Shakesville (apparently my favorite blog!) has a great series of posts, called Today in Disembodied Things, chronicling media and products that excise not only the identities of women (and perhaps men, I'm not sure) from their bodies, but also cut away other, what I presume advertisers think are unnecessary, parts of their bodies.
As you can imagine the parts left over are most often what, if you believe the media, are the most coveted parts of women: legs, breasts, butts, etc.
Something like this (note, I'm unsure of when this ad was made. It's not new, but still relevant. It's just something I found.):
Beyond treating women as accessories (though they do), with these ads advertisers make statements about what women are. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of them would like for women to just be a set of breasts (preferably young) or long legs.
What's worse, this meme changes little whether the models have clothes or not. One of the consequences of presenting models in this way is the stripping of their agency. Does it matter whether or not a woman has clothes on if she's just a pair of breasts?
I redid this advertisement using myself as a model, wondering how it would change the image.
Despite being disembodied, I don't think that the image of myself could be perceived as attempting to attract a gaze or objectify me. I don't even feel that the image reduces me to a body part. I'm not sure if this is because I took the picture or because I'm a male in the image, or something else.
But I'm just a guy wearing jeans.
The woman in the original ad, on the other hand, is intentionally sensual. Her nudity is underscored by the pattern on her butt (where it would be if she actually were wearing Levi's), drawing attention this sensuality.
But it's not anything she does, nor even the very fact that she's a woman that is supposed to make her sensual. It is the passiveness, the inability for her to act (in addition to her thinness, whiteness, and shape) that are supposed to do that.
I can't help but wonder how domestic violence, and especially rape, are influenced by images such as these. I'll save a deeper analysis for another post, but I would assume that this image, of women as accessories, as passive, as nothing but body parts for male consumption contributes to a culture in which rape is both pervasive and often seen as the fault of the victim.
(note: this was cross-posted on my blog. I don't normally promote my own stuff, but this is part of a school project and I want to get it some exposure.)