Created by: Hanna Norris for Gender & The Body (SOC 343) Created: July 6th, 2011

Sexualized Violence in Ads
Research Question: In what ways do advertisers use violence and sexual content to portray women and men? When sexualized violence is used, to portray women as willing sex objects and men as violent aggressors, what effect does this have on both genders conception of sex roles and sexuality?
    Concern about the sexual objectification of women in advertisements has been largely focused on the idea that these advertisements depict women and men enacting particular gender specific sexuality scripts, that reinforce "rape myth." "Rape Myth" is a term used to described the cultural belief that women enjoy sexual assault and therefore share some of the blame in their attack. Ads that depict women in a way that suggests submission to sexual assault, may be normalizing this rape mythology. I defined something as "sexually violent" if it used women's and men's bodies in a sexual or alluring way, to reinforce violent sexuality scripts, whether that was depicting rape in a sexual way or stalking, domestic violence etc... Feminists, Advertisers, and Community Activists have argued about the impact of sexually violent advertisements (as well as in other media representations) on individual men and women's conception of gender and sexuality, as well as society wide norms.  
1. Ads portraying gang rape, murder of women, domestic violence, stalking, and women in sexually compromising positions are common to some of the most popular companies out there: Dolce & Cabbana, Calvin Klien, Wranglers, American Apparel, Valentino, Burger King...
2.The portrayal of Sex and Violence against women is used to sell a variety of products: from toothpaste, to gum, to clothing, even a whopper!
3. In these ads, men are largely depicted using their bodies to be "aggressors," and women are shown with a  "submissive" body position ( Malamuth & Briere, 1986). In some ads women are shown smiling, while an attack is alluded to, in others it appears they are simply "giving in" to the attack. These advertisements link violence to sensuality.
4. According to the Social Learning Theory (Bandura) human beings learn through observing others, they imitate what they see others do, and what they see around them. Some researchers and theorists believe that repeated socialization and exposure to sexual violence against women (in advertisements and in other settings) normalizes the rape act, along with other violence such as stalking (Capella 2010). Our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors are all influence by our environment, and that includes media messages.
5. These ads are often prominently featured in magazines directed towards teens and preteens like: Teen Vogue, Seventeen, etc. We may be socializing boys and girls at younger ages into these violent sexual scripts
6. Research has shown that after exposure to sexually violent ads (like the Dolce & Cabbana ads shown above), men were significantly more passive and accepting of interpersonal violence towards women, in some cases had more aggressive thoughts, and found the most violent ads the most exciting (Capella et al. 2010. Anderson 2003 as cited in Capella et al. 2010)  
  7. Some research has suggested that since these ads are largely shown in "women's" magazines, that women are complicit in the creation of these "myths," and are socialized to see themselves as "victims ( Dee, 1985)." Some more current research though, discounts this assertion, by demonstrating that after women view sexually violent ads, they are more likely to negatively evaluate the ad and the advertiser, and are also more likely to be offended (Capella, et al. 2010).
8. Research is mixed as to whether these sexually violent ads even accomplish their purpose: to sell their product. Some research has shown that after watching sexually violent ads interspersed in a television program, subjects were less likely to remember the ad or buy the product, than if the ad were neutral (Bushman 2005).
9. Scully & Marolla found that Convicted Rapists draw upon rape myth to justify and excuse their crimes. When they do this, they are tapping into the cultural ideology around rape, that suggests that "women ask for it," "say no when they mean yes," "enjoy it once they get into it," etc. All of these themes are often represented in ad campaigns.
10. In 2008 alone 200,510 rapes occurred. That number is according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, undertaken by the U.S department of Justice. This number, however, does not adequately assess ALL the acts of sexual violence that go unreported to the police and survey takers. Sexual Assault is still something associated with shame and stigma, and the "victim" is often blamed, drawing upon the cultural stereotypes shown in these ads.