Deviance and Social Control

Over and over, pornography depicts acts of terrible violence to women’s bodies. Yet even as part of these images of women beaten and dying and always as a ghost image behind these sufferings, a more silent and invisible death takes place. For pornography is violent to a women’s soul. (Griffin 202). Advertisements and public messages are far more effective in communicating their overt and subliminal context. The reach of the advertisement and its ability to affect behavioral changes are reasons enough to understand the portrayal of women in advertising and its relation to women in society.

“In spite of the inferior role which men assign to them, women are the privileged objects of their aggression,” this the telling quote offered by Simone de Beauvoir that establishes one of the essential problems in patriarchal societies—men commit violence against women.. Images of battered women in luxury brands show them as having equal probability of being subject to domestic violence and consuming brands that would make them objects of desire. Portrayal of death and murder of a women lying face down is a cue for the kind of violence women are at times risk of being subjected to.

A product is being sold here but what is being termed acceptable here is violence and death in a sexualized context. One might assume that such representations of women are confined to hard-core pornography, but in fact one finds numerous representations of death in mainstream advertising. Sexual violence and rape is depicted in the advertisement which depicts the female gender as the causality. One of the ultimate questions that must be asked when studying gender and popular imagery is that of causality—what is the impact of images on people’s lives and their relationships? The brand imagery relates to sexual violence.

The advertisement tries to sell its product while subtly trying to say that the photograph used is endurable. Scenes of violent assaults against women are used continually in horror films for entertainment purposes. Note especially the transition from the Hills Have Eyes poster (taken from a rape scene) to the unrated “Version to Die For”, which is the same scene only bloodier and more terrifying. Some companies use these violent images in their advertising campaigns for shock and aesthetic value to help sell their products. Because we see these images regularly and without serious commentary, they become normal.

The mainstream media depicts masculinity in the form of oppression and violence against women. The mainstream media culture plays a critical role in constructing violent masculinity as a cultural norm by offering up a steady stream of images of violent men (and boys). People look around for cues to justify their actions and mainstream media readily provides them with such cues. What we have seen is the disturbing trend of portrayal of various forms of violence against women. It seems that the media has already passed a judgment on what is acceptable in society and any discussion about it is considered passe.