So are French advertisers more perverse and misogynistic than the Swedes?
During my daily cycle to work, I’m often confronted by women in their underwear. This morning, it was a lady at Carrefour. It’s better still when I take the metro. Currently, its the online banking company ING displaying skin tight frenchies across the walls of the underground. The advertisers certainly do have wild imaginations; the use of a woman wearing knickers to promote a supermarket or a bank is a bit out-there to say the least. Personally, I love it. Gets the hormones going before the day has even begun.
‘An object of sexual desire’
Needless to say then that I’m happy I don’t live in Sweden where an advert promoting the television operator ‘Boxer’ is going to be banned because, would you believe, it portrays a male as ‘a purely sexual object which could be deemed offensive by the general male population’. Good old Sweden where all men and women are equal. In France, our walls are permanently plastered with naked ladies, but over there things appear different and even men can no longer be used as objects of sexual desire to sell a product. In Europe there are regulatory organizations which monitor the standard of advertising in 22 of the 27 member states of the EU, such as the ARRP in France. Even if certain feminist groups such as ‘les Chiennes de garde’, who feel that ‘the advertisers encourage the sexist clichés’, don’t like it, the human image is protected by a self-disciplined ethical body which, in France, is made up of 22 legal advisors. Each day, they evaluate 140 advertising case studies in general accordance with the ethical charter which they themselves have put together, ‘whilst keeping in mind the views of the independent associations that make up the Joint Council for Advertising’, states the director for the ARPP, Stéphane Martin.
Sexual equality lessons at nursery!
There are no feminist associations or movements for LGBT rights present in the council, however let’s acknowledge, like Stephan Martin, that ‘there will always be flaws’. He highlighted that ‘nudity in itself is not banned’, as if he had guessed that I was obsessed with beautiful women in suspenders. ‘Sometimes, a simple pose can be perceived as being degrading to a human’. Another important factor is that ‘the content of the advert must conform to the product.’ The French feminist group ‘Les Chiennes de Garde’ claim that ‘advertisers use scenes of a sexual or violent nature to advertise for almost any product (yoghurts, cars etc.)’
In the event of any abuse of this conformity, an ethics jury from the regulatory organisation can be freely hired by your average Joe. However, to this day the regulatory organisation have never received a complaint regarding any adverts portraying men in a degrading way. Therefore, if neither the law nor the organisation protecting the consumers are in question, only one thing can explain the tendency to find naked women all over posters and billboards...the advertisers are sexual maniacs. In Sweden they have found the solution. From nursery, children are educated about equality. No more dolls for girls and cars for boys, each child can develop their own personality independently from gender stereotypes. Maybe we should send our advertisers over there to learn a thing or two!