What do you get when you cross a sexist company with a public relations team? The most disingenuous partnership in the history of all time. (ok, maybe not, but I like to be dramatic).
In the past two weeks it would seem that the patriarchy has over-dosed itself on “damage control” and is trying to recreate it’s image to the public by becoming charitable and health conscious. Laughs all round.
Let’s start with The Sun, that dearest newspaper that is has sexism so ingrained in it’s very design that it cannot muster the strength to realise that calling Page 3 a national treasure, is a disservice to the entire country and is so obnoxious that it can refuse the petitioning of some 180,000 people and stop belittling and objectifying women next to the most recent news of a footballer’s latest misdemeanor and a snappy pun about the benefits system. The Sun newspaper thought it would be an excellent idea to team up with a breast cancer charity and use Page 3 as a way of teaching people how to check their breasts and raise awareness of breast cancer, especially in younger women (well, of course younger women, the age range of page 3 is about 18-21 years, nobody wants to see real breasts that have been impacted by gravity over the years, right? Thanks.)
Now call me cynical, but this has to be the cheapest PR stunt I have seen in a while. Of course, I want women to check their breasts for early signs of cancer, of course it saves lives. But that’s not what this is about is it? No. If this was about women, about cancer and about saving lives, despite it being in The Sun, I would welcome it. This is about making Page 3 palatable and being able to say it serves a purpose other than providing men with kicks and profit margins. Let’s just think about it for a second. Somewhere in a meeting room, with what my experience tells me are probably only men, and if we are lucky one woman, they thought; “let’s use breast cancer to make us look better.” Lets USE breast cancer. Well The Sun, NO SALE, because most of us saw through it. In fact so much so, that the largest breast cancer charity, Breakthrough, had to release a press statement, explaining that they believe it “trivialises” breast cancer. That’s a whole lot politer than I would have been.
Those thinking that this is a serious feature or one that has depth, let’s ask The Sun a few questions:
1. Why is it about ascetically pleasing young women? Do older women not get breast cancer?
2. Why, if it is about breast cancer, and not objectification, are none of the women wearing any jeans?
3. Did you think through that maybe focusing on perky breasts is a bit of an insult to those who have had breast cancer or mastectomies?
4. Your largest readership is male (almost 60%), did that have any bearings on how this feature was put together? And if so, why, when it’s about women and their boobs, not men and their fancies?
Having gone the The Sun’s website. interestingly, I have to scroll down many pictures of breasts before I find a link to how I can actually “check em”. Once I click on the link, I then scroll down 2 more pictures of “Rosie” from Page 3 showing us how to do it, before any actual descriptions…But this is after I get told that I should “check em and then post em” (a picture on twitter) using the hashtag.
Breast cancer isn’t a profit making route, nor is it a way to create some good PR, The Sun, you have somehow made Page 3 more ridiculous to me. I didn’t know it was possible.
Onto the second company to stir rage. It’s a common theme in my life to switch on the television and be angry within, say 3 minutes, and Lynx is usually on the list of adverts to achieve this. But they have taken on a whole new image these days. It is normally a marketing campaign around women (literally) falling from the sky at men’s feet, crashing cars whilst being intoxicated by a man’s scent or having their clothes fall off. There is usually a general theme of women being there for sexual pleasure and that they are men’s entitlement, provided of course said men have sprayed themselves with lynx. What is not to like? That sure makes me want to buy it…women and men should be equally insulted (and no, this isn’t me not being able to take a joke, I enjoy having a laugh, I just don’t enjoy it being at women’s expense).
But now, they’ve taken on a political and charitable theme; It’s all about world peace, and how do we achieve world peace? By wearing new Lynx Peace and showing women (again, ascetically pleasing women) that you love them.
We have a soldier returning from war, a soldier in combat who decides to stop shooting and kiss a woman, what is meant to appear to be a dictator who instead uses his power to get his army to make a love heart and who we are (i assume) to think is a terrorist (yes, there’s elements of all kinds of prejudice thrown in) who instead presses a big red button to set off fireworks for his love rather than a weapon. The footnote of this is essentially, if we all loved women more, had a little sexy time with them and brought them grand gestures of love, war would end? Is that it? *head hits desk repeatedly*
Much like The Sun, this is pretty cynical stuff. Let’s bandwagon an important issue and make some profit over it and let’s make ourselves look good rather than objectifying, degrading and sexist. This is also an example of why campaigners and organisations need to be weary of who they partner with; Last year, the theme for Peace One Day was around domestic abuse and highlighting why this is an endemic across the world creating nothing short of a war against women. So much so, that Peace One Day has partnered with the likes of the UN and anti violence campaigners to create the Domestic violence coalition. It is a shame that some reflection hasn’t been done on why domestic abuse is an endemic, why it is prevalent across the world; ask any women’s rights campaigner and they will tell you; it’s because of a global, institutionalized inequality, which allows us to see women as “less” and men as dominators. It is this force of inequality that allows domestic abuse to exist and often go unnoticed, and Lynx’s sexist advertising plays a role in allowing this inequality and the “lesser than” perception of women to exist. Lynx repeatedly use women in their advertising campaigns as objects, as things to be captured and for the use of sex; does this not sit on the spectrum of institutionalised sexism which allows violence against women to fester in society?
By creating these partnerships, whether with The Sun or Lynx, are we not also condoning how they represent women?
Both Peace One Day and CoopaFeel are organisations very worthy of media and advertising attention. I just wish they had gone about it a different way.