Posted by: joshjasper | November 19, 2009


I have really been struggling with something as of late.  It all started the other day when I was eating lunch outside and noticed the gigantic billboard that Great Sounds Audio placed on Dodge Street that shows a voluptuous woman  dressed in tight clothing, laying next to a flat screen television.  Why is she there?  We know why.  The better question though has more to do with why I am not saying anything about yet another example of a woman being objectified in our community. 

As I was leaving the grocery store the other night I picked up the recent edition of Dubuque 365.  (free newspaper)  I was eager to read about the Festival of Trees event that was being advertised on the front page.  Before I reached that article though, I came across a large advertisement from Graham’s Style Store for Men and Women.  The ad was titled “Holiday Hotties by Frank Lyman,” and was an image of a woman laying down in tight clothing with her cleavage exposed.  The advertisement had a holiday theme with green and red colors.  Tis the season I suppose to once again put women in a role in which they are to be viewed only as a sex object. 

I feel like such a hypocrite. 

This morning I presented to 50 freshman college students on gender stereotypes.  In this presentation I talked about violence being a learned behavior, and then examined the words we as a society use to label one another, and how those labels can often lead to violence.  I closed my presentation with sharing violence prevention strategies that included challenging sexism, speaking out, and being a role model for others.

How is it that I can teach what people should do to end violence, but yet I struggle with speaking out against advertising that clearly reinforces those very stereotypes? 

It’s so easy to do nothing.  No one likes confrontation.  With that said though, I need to do more.  I need to have the strength to challenge ALL forms of sexism, and speak out so that others will follow….because they inevitably will.



  1. I hear you.

    (I will challenge you on the “nobody likes confrontation” because I think some people do seek out confrontation, but that’s another topic for another day!)

    For me, I think the reluctance to say something to someone is often due to the fact that, ultimately, I respect other people’s right to have a different opinion. If they don’t think this kind of advertising is wrong, who am I to judge?

    When I look at it in this “moral” or even subjective perspective, I find it difficult to say anything because I am perceiving it as just a difference of opinion. For me to object to the way they are, “in my opinion” disrespecting others ironically seems to indicate my lack of respect for THEIR opinion.

    What I find helpful is to approach it from an objective position as much as possible. When confronted with facts and data and research that clearly demonstrates the connection between this kind of advertising and abuse, how can they NOT come to the same conclusion as me? I think this is why I value education. It allows people to make better-informed decisions.

    I know it doesn’t always work this way. Maybe they do have the same info and data and research but still come to a different conclusion as to what is right or makes the most sense.

    Sadly, too, it often comes down to money and greed and selfishness. People do whatever makes them the most money. As long as it helps them, what does it matter what happens to anyone else? Let everyone else figure out what is best for themselves, right? That shows true respect for others, doesn’t it?

    We are making progress, I think. Issues like global warming, for example, are helping people to understand that their actions and behaviors DO make a difference and DO affect what happens to others – and could, ultimately, impact them in some way in the future.

    I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself for your “perceived hipocracy.” Sometimes we can make more of a difference when we hold our tongues and wait until another time or place to say something.

    You DO speak out against sexism. This blog is a great example of that. If you simply react every time someone says something, you become that “clanging gong” that no one wants to listen to. I’d rather you compose the beautiful melody that no one can ignore. Your passion for – and commitment to – ending sexual violence in our community are the real indication of how “strong” of a role model you really are.

  2. That billboard and struck me as being distasteful, an embarrassment to what has been an iconic local small business (Great Sounds Audio), a slap in the face to every parent is trying to raise their kids properly without being a prude and another slap in the face to every female that drives by and sees the damaging and insulting image. I’m sure that image came from the maker of the TVs but the management of the local store approved it’s display in our town and they should reconsider such thoughts from this point forward. They should not sink to the lowest common denominator. They have operated so far by the strategy of being better than the competition.

    Moving to national advertising by big corporations I have sent the following comment to NBC: “Today when I watched The Office online as I always do I was beyond offended at the Reebok Easytone shoe ads. The images of a female in her underwear and the extended closeup of a pair of large breasts (covered only from just above the nipple on down) easily crossed the lines that have already been pushed too far. I’m a liberal and I still object to this objectifying of women and sticking it in our kids faces during “prime time programming” even. If the ads are not kept tasteful then I won’t bother watching. Please have some taste and discretion.”

    Surely if we all speak up and do it often enough, we can at least push the lines (that advertisers feel dared to cross) back in the other direction a little bit, which would be a victory in my eyes. My son is just getting old enough to notice these things and that’s not the type of person I want him to mature into. I thank everyone who does find the courage and a productive way to voice their objections.

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