Jennifer R. Livingston
Utah State University Killing Us Softly: A Reflection Paper
In our modern world, advertising is always present. Marketers use every possible source of media to get their message through – internet, television, print, radio, mail, product packaging, sponsorships, etc. With consumers being constantly bombarded by advertisements, how does a company ensure that their message is the one that sticks? What makes an advertisement successful? One might say that a good advertisement is entertaining, memorable, and improves product sales. According to the research of Jean Kilbourne, advertisements succeed in doing much more than selling products. “They sell values, they sell images, they …show more content…
Their bodies are literally turned into objects like bottles or furniture (see Appendix C). While men are portrayed as sexual aggressors, women are oftentimes the submissive or even unwilling participant. Some advertisements outright depict sexual violence (see Appendix D and Appendix E). It is not uncommon to take a portion of a women and focus solely on that body part, removing her face and effectively turning her into simply a breast, abdomen, pair of legs or buttocks (see Appendix F). In some cases, women are actually dismembered or portioned into cuts of meat, which sends the message that women are no different nor more valuable than a piece of meat (see Appendix G and Appendix H).
This objectification of women is demoralizing and dehumanizing. Jean Kilborne suggests that the dehumanization of women is very dangerous because “turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step toward justifying violence against that person.” The rates of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence in this country seem to support her statement. When men see women as objects, things to use for their pleasure, they fail to see them a human beings worthy of respect, love and affection. It is much easier to treat a thing with disrespect than it is to treat a human being – an equal – that …show more content…
Kilborne says, “just about everyone feels personally exempt from the influence of advertising.” She also shared a quote from an advertising editor that says, “Only about 8% of an ad’s message is received by the conscious mind. The rest is worked and reworked deep within the recesses of the brain.”
Society is deeply impacted by the messages being sent through the media. Young women and girls who are exposed to this kind of advertising are especially vulnerable. They are not aware that the women they see are being photoshopped, airbrushed, were born genetically thin and tall, or any combination of these things (having a thin body and still being subjected to photoshop). They are taught to sexualize themselves, to change the way they look and act, and to become the “ideal woman” without realizing that it is an unattainable goal. These young women may be at a higher risk for developing eating disorders, depression, anxiety and self-objectification. They suffer the mental and emotional consequences of living in a society that tells them they are not, and never will be, good