«

»

Aug 24 2005

Huevos

Seaturtleegg

mAke hottt l o v e like crazy

I see on Feministing that in Mexico a women’s group is trying to get an anti-turtle-egg-eating TV ad banned because its scantily-clad sexbot spokesmodel "promotes women as sexual objects."

I can just imagine the torrent of guffaws issuing from the Pussy Marketing Department if anyone were to suggest such a deranged action in the US, where it is illegal to produce television or print ads that do not feature 18-year-old hotties in thongs humping things.

"What! Not present women as commodities for the purpose of lining our pockets? Are you mad?"

What is sort of ironic is that the aforementioned sexbot model is shilling for an environmental group called Wildcoast, who want sex-obsessed Mexican men to stop treating supposedly aphrodesiac sea turtle eggs like Viagra. Wildcoast’s own spokesmodel was mystified when it turned out that other (unnamed) environmental groups wanted nothing to do with the sexbot campaign.

"They had this kind of feminist point of view, that we were denigrating women. But all companies sell through women, so why not have a woman carry the message directly to the men who are eating these eggs?"

That’s right! Everybody else is demeaning women for fun and profit, so obviously they’d be fools to try to educate the public on conservation issues any other way.

60 comments

  1. norbizness

    Didn’t we have the “I’d rather be unapproachably naked than wear fur” PETA campaign here? It’s working, I haven’t worn fur since. Your move, Alicia Silverstone.

  2. Sam

    Every now and then I wonder when there will be enough images of stripped women around to make men happy.

    I want to hear a man say, “No, actually, I don’t need a hooker-themed headless toilet to compliment my extensive porn collection, Maxim subscription, strip club souvenirs, 2005 nudie calendar, Playboy coffee mug, and pen with a naked woman on it when you turn it upside down. Those items will serve my naked woman viewing entertainment needs just fine and I don’t need any more, thanks.”

    I figure there has to be a point where men push the sexbot plate away and signal they can’t eat another bite, but men’s ravenous appetite for consuming women seems never to be satiated.

  3. Sara

    Sam, I think there are some people who stop noticing the level of porn saturation around them. After your wall of naked lady posters and desktop naked lady, etc. have been around for a while, you sort of stop seeing them.

    Though, I don’t think people exactly get tired of things they find attractive. It’s not like people get so sick and tired of tasteful decor that they have to close their eyes. Repetition can be boring, but nice things are nice.

  4. flamingbanjo

    Images of attractive women are used to market products to men and women. I’m gonna bet that there are more square inches of model flesh per issue in Cosmo than in Playboy.

    The practice is so ubiquitous that I doubt that a sexy model alone is enough to sell a product. But the absence of images of beautiful people is, from an advertizing standpoint, unacceptable. We’re all so used to seeing the symmetrical, wrinkle-free faces with perfect skin and widely-spaced eyes that are used to sell every product in the world that models that didn’t possess these qualities would probably register as having something horribly wrong with them. Even the “controversial” Dove’s “Real Women, Real Curves” campaign seems to feature women who, while not anorexically thin, are still far beyond typical.

    Subtext is everything in advertizing, and cultivating an assocation between a product and attractive people is probably the most basic form of the “this product will make you attractive to others” (or “this product will give you access to attractive mates”) subtext. I can’t see it going away any time soon.

    As for the environmentalists using this method to sell their point of view, it’s an interesting dilemma: Sure it seems kinda sleazy, but on the other hand shouldn’t they employ the most effective advertizing they can to get their message across? Especially when the message is designed specifically to counter the supposed aphrodisiacal claims about turtle eggs?

  5. Twisty

    You know what, fuck PETA and the horse they rode in on. They’re the NRA of anti-cruelty world.

  6. Twisty

    Images of attractive women are used to market products to men and women. I’m gonna bet that there are more square inches of model flesh per issue in Cosmo than in Playboy.

    Are you arguing, Flamingbanjo, that because misogyny is an accepted marketing tool, it is an acceptable marketing tool? How does it make sense to ask people to give a fig for turtles, and to not give a fig for half their own species, at the same time? Are there really only so many figs to go around?

    It is unclear whether turtle eggs are a worthier cause than human social issues, but does one never just stand up and say “enough!”?

  7. norbizness

    Careful, Twisty, hatin’ on Alicia Silverstone is a lot like slavery.

  8. flamingbanjo

    I’m sort of inclined to think of advertizing in general as a con. Even if you’re conning people into doing something positive, it’s still a con.

    If I’m running for Student Council and my opponent hands out cupcakes and I hand out brussel sprouts because “cupcakes are bad for you”, which of us is more likely to accomplish our goal of bribing potential voters to vote for us?

    Since the target audience for this ad was men who think that eating turtle eggs makes them more virile, the creators of this ad no doubt aimed it squarely at that demographic. An ad that pleased feminists would probably not have pleased the target demographic. So again, my devil’s-advocate question: Is it better to take the high road and be ineffective or take the low road and actually stand a chance of accomplishing a noble goal?

  9. peacebug

    my first posting … but been reading your blog for a while now. great stuff!

    which prompts me to share this bit from a local high school booster club. it’s an advert for the cheerleading squad’s upcoming carwash, written by one of the moms, to wit:
    ……………………
    Hello Booster Club Parents,
    The -HS Cheerleaders are holding their first fundraiser of the new school year this Saturday…It’s the “much anticipated” Cheerleader Car Wash. While we can’t promise anything quite as exciting as Paris Hilton’s famous carwashing video, we can promise that it’s entertaining. Don’t worry, dads are on hand to make sure they don’t leave too much grime and that the suds are properly rinsed away.

    The girls would certainly appreciate you all forwarding the attached flyer to your members. Thanks so much.
    ………………………………
    it’s positively enervating really … one can only hope that the daughter whose mom wrote this IS NOT AWARE of how her mom views her own flesh-and-blood’s abilities …

  10. Chris Clarke

    You know what, fuck PETA and the horse they rode in on.

    I’m pretty sure PETA would approve of neither.

  11. Finn

    Flamingbanjo sez:

    “So again, my devil’s-advocate question: Is it better to take the high road and be ineffective or take the low road and actually stand a chance of accomplishing a noble goal?”

    I sez:

    That is a great question and is similar to one that I was pondering with a great deal of consternation several months ago when a friend on another forum suggested that intentions don’t matter so much as results.

    Yesterday, during a 2-mile run, it hit me. All human activities ultimately result in the same thing: death and continued entropy. So, results are a lousy thing to base your life on. I’d say intentions may well be the ONLY thing that matters and that results are dubious and debatable til the cows come home.

    See ya on the high road. Fuck results.

    -finn

  12. Sam

    Interesting way to look at things, Finn. I suppose if pressed to choose between the two I would agree with you that good intentions mean more than results when speaking of long term change.

    English-speakers even have the word “Machiavellian” to describe that shitty kind of people for whom any amoral, unscrupulous means of getting what they want is justified by the end result of getting what they wanted. The general consensus on these people is that they suck mightily.

  13. Chris Clarke

    Eloquently put, finn. I’m with you.

  14. Twisty

    Joe Finn! My hero! I take back all that bad stuff I used to say about you!

  15. Twisty

    Peacebug, yipes! Don’t even get me started on cheerleader carwashes.

  16. Crys T

    “An ad that pleased feminists would probably not have pleased the target demographic. So again, my devil’s-advocate question: Is it better to take the high road and be ineffective or take the low road and actually stand a chance of accomplishing a noble goal?”

    You’re trying to make it sound as if the ONLY way of advertising effectively is to treat women like pieces of meat, and that is absolute bullshit. I’m sure if we sat here and brainstormed, I bet we could come up with a very, very long list of effective ads that DIDN’T rely on using women’s bodies to hawk the wares in question.

    Quit trying to set up false dichotomies. There are literally dozens of different approaches that could have been taken to concoct an effective ad campaign for conservation purposes. Only most of them would have taken some actual thought, rather than sleazy, simple pandering.

    I personally am more than sick of people trying to tell me that acknowledgment of my humanity has to be put on hold “for the greater good”. What a load of stinking, putrid, lying bollocks.

  17. flamingbanjo

    Well, actually “devil’s advocate” means that I’m not necessarily arguing that. What I’m suggesting, or wondering aloud about anyway, is that the turtles who are facing extinction might appreciate the most effective of all possible ad campaigns, the one that’s most likely to actually change their situation.

    Also, I’m hard-pressed to refer to a group of environmentalists trying to preserve an endangered species as “Machiavellian.”

    It is an area of continuing frustration to me in progressive politics that sometimes we work so hard to construct messages that don’t offend the choir that we lose everybody we’re trying to reach in the process. When Howard Dean made his much-maligned comment about reaching out to voters with confederate flag stickers on their pickups, the (predictable) liberal backlash was that the confederate flag was an insulting symbol of racism (which it is.) But that completely misses the point — in order to effect change, we need more than just the choir. We need to reach people who don’t already agree with us.

    Hence the “brussel sprouts” comment — I’ve noticed that messages that have been vetted through the liberal progresso-matic image-sanitizing machine tend to resonate only with, well, liberals.

    If I thought that printing the Kyoto Protocol on a bikini bottom and shaking that Kyoto Protocol on camera would get enough people who wouldn’t otherwise support it to support it, I’d wear it myself. (This would not, in fact, work.)

    Advertizing does not generally work by appealing to our higher natures.

  18. Anonymous

    I would guess a brief explanation why eating turtles eggs is not only not an aphrodesiac but an ecological disaster about to happen would be more effective at fixing the situation than “Got a semi-boner looking at my jiggling jugs? Good, now don’t eat turle eggs.”

    Paris Hilton’s porno-mercial for Carl’s Jr. gave a lot of men boners, but what it didn’t do was give a lot of men or women the urge to eat Carl’s Jr. more and advertising bigwigs are calling the ad a flop at generating sales.

  19. Sam

    I would guess a brief explanation why eating turtles eggs is not only not an aphrodesiac but an ecological disaster about to happen would be more effective at fixing the situation than “Got a semi-boner looking at my jiggling jugs? Good, now don’t eat turtle eggs.”

    Paris Hilton’s porno-mercial for Carl’s Jr. gave a lot of men boners, but what it didn’t do was give a lot of men or women the urge to eat Carl’s Jr. more and advertising bigwigs are calling the ad a flop at generating sales.

  20. Anonymous

    This is a hypothetical, but it’s my hypothetical, and it’s sort of the same situation.

    I am the token male at a sexual assault/domestic violence program in the rural Northwest. I am their legal advocate. I accompany people to court, help them with court paperwork, act as liason to their attorneys, if necessary, while they’re in shelter, work with law enforcement and probation and parole officers, and, in general, do a lot of the legal scut-work involved in getting recalcitrant judges to give protection orders, get abusers convicted of something other than fourth-degree assault, and send actual rapists to jail, rather than to their senior year in college.

    So, as token male, I get to do a certain amount of the male-centric work the agency does. I speak with fraternities and the almost entirely male police departments in the area, and, unlike my viciously competent female predecessor, I don’t get crude sexual jokes or bizarre, passive-aggressive justifications for rape or personally harassed by perpetrators. Most of it is passive. Miasmic. So without something to really be offended by — they’re pleasant to me — I have a good relationship with police and prosecutors and judges, despite my personal conviction that they sometimes either don’t care or blame the victim.

    Part of my job is to enact cultural change, but cultural change often means absolutely fuckall to the victim of a crime who’s trying to put their victimizer away. And, you know what? I agree. Putting the movement ahead of your safety when you’ve been victimized is probably stupid. So I put up with a certain amount of misogynist bullshit in order to do my job, the direct services part of my job, right. It’s easier to deal with selling out your long-term ideals than selling out the person sitting ten feet from you.

    Mexicans eat turtle eggs because they believe that turtle eggs give them boners. Turtle eggs do not give them boners. Mexican environmentalists attempt to replace non-boner-giving turtle eggs with actual-boner-giving models. Environmentalists sell out long-term goals (stop the objectification of women) for short-term goal (stop the extinction of sea-turtles).

    When I was doing HIV advocacy, I used to tell people to switch from shooting to snorting meth *all the time*. Do I believe that railing crank or giving penis-obsessed, superstitious idiots boners are acceptable? No. But they’re going to get boners from something, whether it’s my poster or Tijuana bibles or sea turtle eggs. If it saves the species, then fine: I’ll sell out. Let them have their boners.

    – ACS

  21. Chris Clarke

    Also, I’m hard-pressed to refer to a group of environmentalists trying to preserve an endangered species as “Machiavellian.”

    I work for an environmental non-profit whose work you’ve probably heard of. I’ve spent two decades doing this kind of work. And I’m here to tell you, I wouldn’t worry too much about that adjective being unfair. The aims are usually laudable, and most of the tactics above reproach, but I have met some scheming goddamn Machiavellian enviros in my day.

    Don’t do us any favors by exempting us from the obligation to conduct our business in a non-sexist fashion. Mexican women have the power to end the practice of eating turtle eggs, and we’re not going to sway them by offending either their feminist sensibilities, or their proprety, or both.

    I’m in the business of preaching beyond the choir. (I edit the only English-language environmental magazine ever to have run a cover story on NASCAR. This next issue we’re working on bass fishing.) And the secret is: never piss anyone off by accident. Make sure the people you piss off are the ones you damn well want to piss off.

  22. jc.

    Among other things is that these adds (as pointed out in conjunction with Paris hilton) don´t cause any change in the behaviour or even call attention to their message.
    A truly efective add should probably have struck dirctly at the bubble of mexican machoism. Something like “Only men with small dicks and no girlfriends eat turtle eggs. They still have small dicks and the turtles are all gone. Be a real hombre, hombre, and take viagra instead.”
    O.k. I know dick size and aphrodisiacs aren´t the same thing but i bet men would´ve paid attention (even if they only were pissed off) instead of saying something like ” Nce tits. Jose, pass me another beer and some turtle eggs.
    Pragmatism is necessary in the real world but it costs and the ends quite often do not justify the means or the moral cost.

  23. TeenageCatgirl

    ACS, that argument only works if advertising that way were the only way to advertise, which it isn’t. And the disrespect with which women are treated in the media, the fact they are shown as pieces of meat with convenient orifices is what contributes to those women you work with being raped, and what instills the attitude in the police force, legal system and society at large that they deserved it for being what they are.

    Personally, the fact my female predecessor had received that kind of treatment and especially defences for rape would be enough to offend me.

  24. Crys T

    But of course, Teenagecatgirl, if you were a man anyway, and not likely to ever be raped (at least not out of misogyny), it’d be damn easy for you to take it all with a grain of salt.

    Shit. I love the way that people who aren’t actually in the line of fucking fire are always the ones to preach that those of us who are should just suck it up “for the greater good”.

  25. Anonymous

    Quite. You’d think from the way he wrote this that he’d been the target of misogyny rather than an observer -

    “Putting the movement ahead of your safety when you’ve been victimized is probably stupid. So I put up with a certain amount of misogynist bullshit in order to do my job,”

    When have you ever faced misogynistic victimization ACS? When have you ever been targeted because you are a women? Oh wait, you haven’t because you’re a man.

  26. Finn

    ACS sez:

    “Part of my job is to enact cultural change, but cultural change often means absolutely fuckall to the victim of a crime who’s trying to put their victimizer away. And, you know what? I agree.”

    I sez:

    You give me much to think about. Especially the part about multiple principles that sometimes conflict.

    What I can’t agree with, though, is that as a victim we gain the right to suspend principle. For how long, I would wonder? Is there a statute of limitations, then the victim returns to their regularly scheduled principles?

    I guess my opinion might be changed by some time in the trenches, but the “do meth, it’s better for you than heroine” rationale leaves me thinking it may be time for you to get some time away. Not saying you’re wrong, but just thinking out loud.

  27. Anonymous

    Who are you calling “we” Finn? Neither you (I assume you are a man) or ACS is a victim of misogyny. Nor do you get to make the call as to how victims of misogyny (women) should respond to it.

    If you read carefully ACS is saying he suspends his own principles. For what reason it isn’t quite clear. It sounds like he’s doing it to have a good relationship with the men he deals with in law enforcement and the criminal justice system, a privilege his female predecessor was not afforded.

  28. Finn

    “Who are you calling “we” Finn? Neither you (I assume you are a man) or ACS is a victim of misogyny.”

    Fair enough. I was using “we” to refer to victims of anything at all. Didn’t mean to imply anything else.

    You could interchange the roles in any victim scenario and the principle question is the same, though, right?

    If I get my car broken into, do I get to suspend the normal right and wrong until I’ve exacted vengeance on the perpetrator? That seemed, at least to me, to be the question.

  29. Anonymous

    Getting victimised because of systematic sexual oppression is not analogous to having your car broken into. Your car was being targeted, not the fact of your existence.

  30. Crys T

    “If you read carefully ACS is saying he suspends his own principles. For what reason it isn’t quite clear. It sounds like he’s doing it to have a good relationship with the men he deals with in law enforcement and the criminal justice system”

    EXACTLY!! He gets to be buddy-buddy with these guys in a way no woman has the chance to, and OF COURSE he’s not going to blow it by having, like, *real principles* that would force him to treat women as human on a consistent basis. I mean, if he did, wouldn’t the guys would think he was, y’know, *pussy-whipped* or something???? Gawd, we couldn’t have that, could we?

    Just for once, I’d love to see one of these guys who are telling women we need to hold off on our own status as humans till “the time is right” say the same to another group of minority or minoritised status. They wouldn’t have the fucking guts because they’d know how putrid and hypocritical and plain bigoted it exposed them to be. Yet they have no compunction in telling women what we should do.

  31. Ron Sullivan

    I’m not going to slam ACS’ attitude, let alone his work, and I’ll even do him the kindness of assuming his self label as “token male” reflects an in-house joke. I’ll even give “viciously competent” merely a raised eyebrow, because I’ve heard lawyers talking about themselves and each other and I know a sporting compliment when I see one.

    One cultivates buddy-buddy relationships with petty powermongers because that gets the work done in the real world, not because one prizes such buddyships. Frankly, I don’t see anything in his post telling us we need to hold off on our own status “until the time is right” and I’ve had that argument with more people than I care to recall.

    ACS’ agency is working to make cultural change by saving the lives of individual women. I have absolutely no quarrel with that, and I’d take advantage of it even if I did think he was a flaming sexist. (I take a similar utilitarian view of surgeons; if they do what I need them to, I’ll use them and then never have to see them again. I’ll undermine their little cultural sandcastles in my own way and work, thanks, and they probably won’t know what hit them, or even that their little minds have been changed.)

    I’ve known a few lawyers who’ve worked the domestic violence and women’s shelter arenas, and I’ve heard from them and read elsewhere about the sexist, racist, inbred culture they have to work in to get their work done, to keep those women they represent alive. The lawyers I’m talking about are women. Sometimes they do frontline a male associate, if that’s what it takes to get the job done.

    About the ad campaign: I’d say it was dumb for a couple of reasons.

    One: it’s run-of-the-mill unimaginative. People use “sex” (it ain’t sex; it’s weird abstraction) to sell, and claim it works, except when (as with the Paris Hilton ad) it obviously doesn’t. Do sexist men really believe what a woman tells them, whatever her body type and attire? Um, no. We aren’t seen as “authoritative” by them. The ads might give them a boner, but so what? People keep mistaking eye candy for persuasion, and for sex, come to think of it. (I have to wonder if they even think of it to come.)

    That ad would work better if it featured a reg’lar guy telling them that eating turtle eggs reveals them to be needle-dicked, noodle-dicked nerds, and doesn’t work, and if it did work they’re ensuring no turtles will be left when they really needed them, when they’re wrinkly old farts. Or that eating turtle eggs is an idea they’ve been slipped by plotting capitalists/feminists/commies/church hierarchy/ yanquis/mothers-in-law/their jealous old patriarchs and it gradually renders them impotent. Whatever. But the word needs to come from a man to be credible to sexist men. See ACS’ post above for a perfect example.

    It’s a false dichotomy, and it isn’t even actually about sex. It’s about kneejerking and stale ideas.

    About fucking the horse PETA rode in on: From what I’ve seen of horse anatomy, I think the horse would barely notice, whatever PETA thought.

  32. Anonymous

    You’re right. I’m not the victim. All I know about the effects of misogyny are (a) what I can observe and (b) what people tell me. I’m also not telling you it’s okay for me to compromise my principles, or that my compromise should be used as a model; I’m just telling you that it’s what I do do.

    There is one particular judge who will not give out a protection order — to anyone — without abject supplication from both myself and the client. He won’t let the victim in the courtroom without a lawyer. He puts the victim on the stand every single time and badgers them about why they haven’t left their abuser. This is enitrely unacceptable behavior. I feel like if I don’t choke down my bile when I’m speaking with him, if I don’t persuade, rather than confront, I’m putting my client, and any future clients, at serious risk from their abuser.

    Am I aware that he only treats me with the limited respect he does because I’m a male? Yes. Because of how he treated my predecessor, who had to choke back quite a bit more than I did, and whom I respect enormously. Do I, in this situation, turn my back on the privelege I’m being granted as a male? I’m … not sure. Is this rationalization? I’m … not sure.

    Any given set of principles is going to eventually be incompatible, and the problem with prioritizing short-term events, like the extinction of a turtle or a protection order, is that they are events for which the time will never be right again. The temptation to put off your advocacy or compromise your principles isn’t just an illusion. Sometimes compromising your principles works … and that’s hard.

    – ACS

    P.S. I’d like to highlight JC’s comment that, to a certain extent, I’m making a false dichotomy. The ad he/she proposes would probably work better, if he/she could actually get it put up.

  33. Crys T

    “Sometimes compromising your principles works … and that’s hard”

    Sorry, ACS, but this is bullshit. You are acting as if showing women as lumps of meat is the one and only way to run an effective ad campaign. Which it quite patently is not.

    Therefore, it’s not a question of “having” to make a short-term compromise for a long-term goal. It’s about taking the easy, no-brain road, and to hell with women. End of freaking story.

  34. Anonymous

    It isn’t the one-and-only way to run an effective ad campaign. However, the targetted demographic is pretty much defined by being (a) sexually insecure, (b) superstitious, and (c) heterosexual then appealing to their sexual insecurity is a pretty obvious hook. If you believe that the turtles are in danger of extinction, then, while any means aren’t acceptable to keep that from happening, I think it’s not entirely off the table to act as though you’re in an emergency.

    One way to appeal to sexual insecurity, which seems resonably effective, is with a sexual appeal. This has ethical consequences. As I pointed out above, JC has another option entirely, which doesn’t have the ethical consequences that the first option does.

    – ACS

  35. Crys T

    “I think it’s not entirely off the table to act as though you’re in an emergency.”

    And of course, emergencies ALWAYS require women to be reduced to fuck-hole status, isn’t that right? Look, a couple of people above have actually freaking outlined different strategies that could have been used to get the message across without dehumanising women in the process. Why are you so bound and determined to act as if the only viable option to save the damn turtles was to treat women like shit?

    Probably some people will find my next comment out of line, but I actually don’t care right now: I’m finding it creepy and disturbing that someone who believes the only–or at least the best–way to get an effective message across to other men is by dehumanising women is working in any capacity for an organisation that deals with victims of sexual assault.

    You are fucking propping up and defending the very mentality that leads to those assaults in the first place.

    There was NO FUCKING EXCUSE for thoe ads. NONE. So quit trying to make out there was.

    And, really, if you profess to care about any woman in any way, seriously think about going off to work on your sense of entitlement and your sexism before presuming to in any advocate for women who are victims of sexual violence. Because you have got one hell of a hypocritical stance to work on.

    In short, with friends like you, women like me don’t need enemies.

  36. Finn

    >In short, with friends like you, women like me don’t need enemies.<

    Not trying to take up for him one way or the other, but ACS is merely pointing out that victims in many cases are between a rock and a hard place. He’s suggesting that if you think he’s bad, you should try dealing with the people he has to navigate in order to make progress for his clients.

    The suggestion is that the system is so corrupt, there’s no fixing it, especially not on a timetable short enough to help the people he’s representing.

    I look at it as the difference between real life and untested principle. I mean, it’s easy for me to say he should take the high road, but I have no idea what that entails. Does it mean compiling data on judges and attempting to have them removed from the bench? Or, does it mean working with them until they finally croak and we can replace them with new blood?

  37. Sam

    That rock and a hard place you say women are between are really one man and another man.

    There’s the way of working with the sexist judges while simultaneously holding them accountable for respecting basic human rights. Crys T is right to get angry when a man says he believes in women’s human rights, but not right now, maybe later when it’s less contentious for him. That attitude is the same one relegating millions of Iraqi women to the status of religiously-mandated men’s property right now while men debate what’s “practical” enough for bigoted, sexist men to accept.

    Former C.I.A. Middle East specialist Reuel Marc Gerecht said on “Meet the Press” that it’s all right if women can’t vote in Iraq because in 1900 women couldn’t vote in the US either. He followed that up with, “I mean, women’s social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy.” He says that and American men who know better simply shrug because, hey, men are sexist, potentially violent fucks don’t you know and what can you do about it?

    It’s the same justification that appealing to sexist men is always more important than appealing to women for the sake of male-defined expediency. The cycle continues because the very real fear of men’s power-over (judge) and violence (Iraqi men) keeps men like ACS from acting to please women instead of sexist men. Male power brokers are putting in place yet another gender apartheid (remember women aren’t seen as quite fully human yet in Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.) under the auspices of “getting work done”. The work that never seems to get done is pulling women out from under men’s thumbs so they’re not kept as human pets and servants anymore, but who can think of that with the terrible plight of sea turtles in mind?

    Raising the status of women worldwide would probably go further in stopping environmental damage of this sort than disconnecting from sexual politics why men feel the need to boost their sense of masculinity at Mother Earth’s expense.

  38. Twisty

    Spinster auntly duties have kept me away from my desk for the past day, and I am pleased to return and see that you guys have, as usual, dissected the issue with deadly perspicacity and (best of all) a grasp of English grammar. A pleasure.

  39. flamingbanjo

    I was in Canada last year and on the side of buses I kept seeing these ads promoting AIDS awareness and safe sex. The ads featured a black man and a white man, shown from the bare mid-shoulder up, embracing back-to-front. It was tastefully done but definitely racy, and I can’t really picture it being on the side of a bus in most U.S. cities. Why? Because the image would have offended a lot of people who disapprove of “the gay lifestyle.” And yet it seemed like a very effective ad campaign for reaching the target audience, younger gay men who are statistically at higher risk for contracting HIV.

    In this instance, would it be right not to run those ads because they offended some people, even if the people who took offense were not in the target audience and could not point to any concrete harm the ads had caused them? And even if the ads were shown to be effective?

    It sounds like you’re saying that the survival of a bunch of turtles is not as important as your right to not be offended by ads on Mexican television. How is this different from a fundamentalist’s claim that trying to prevent gay men from contracting HIV isn’t as important as his right to not be exposed to offensive images of “the gay lifestyle?”

    The most effective PSA campaign I can think of was the now-famous 70′s anti-litter campaign featuring the crying Indian chief. I still remember it vividly decades later. Yet the image of the stoic, feather headdress-wearing, wise Native was itself a pretty blatant stereotype and probably wouldn’t pass muster today. The ad didn’t make a reasoned case for not littering, it relied on an emotional appeal to what we would now probably refer to as white liberal guilt. Because that’s how ads work. Emotional appeals, carefully targeted at the group whose behavior you’re trying to change. It doesn’t matter whether it’s their choice of aftershave or their decision to use a condom, the approach is the same.

    It is by its nature manipulative.

  40. Twisty

    Well, “gay lifestyle” does not equal “objectification of women.” The Mexican ad is not about being offended so much as it is about the perpetuation of oppression. Though oppression is, of course, offensive.

  41. Chris Clarke

    From what I’ve seen of horse anatomy, I think the horse would barely notice, whatever PETA thought.

    From what I’ve seen of horses’ loins
    I hold with those who’d sex enjoin.
    But if I PETA had to fuck,
    I know enough of what they bray
    To know a boy’s a mare’s a duck
    Or so they say
    Because they suck.

  42. Anonymous

    You’re right that clients get doubly victimized, once by their abuser, and once by the courts. They often have a Hobson’s choice between a victimizer that wants to deny them liberty and often life and a victimizer that wants to deny them protection from the first victimizer. Every time I walk into court, I have a chance to confront the judge, and I don’t, because if I do, I damage that specific client’s chances of getting a protection order.

    If all I do is recite what I believe, I never have any moral conflicts. I have no official power to hold the judge ‘accountable’, and there is no higher power to hold him ‘accountable’ to. Any ‘accountability’ I assign is symbolic tilting at windmills. He holds the power to lift state protection from someone I have a duty to represent if I assert my values. It isn’t unreasonable to expect that he will.

    You keep railing about me, but you’re not telling me the solution to the problem. I don’t want to keep doing this: I want to quit being a hypocrite. To do that, I need to have a solution.

    – ACS

  43. ae

    ACS,
    Would it help you to think of the sexist bullshit ad(s) as the media arm of the system in which the women you defend find themselves at the business end of a fist? It’s all of a piece, brother — psychic and physical safety.

    If you perpetuate (support, however passively, and w/ distaste even) the sexist ad as an effective means to an end, you do the women who are the victims of a more nefarious expression of passive or objectified personhood significant harm. You save them to be attacked another day in other ways.

    The problem is not turtles, hottt chixxx, or women who won’t leave; it’s men who eat turtle eggs, men who batter, and the gendered system of entitlement and threat of violence on which these are based. Surely the Mexican equivalent of Madison Avenue can come up w/ a high concept ad that doesn’t sell out half of the human population to bonerfy some sad sacks. This is indefensible, and it does not behoove you, your philosophy, or the good work you do to persist in privileging what is, in effect, a deeply ruinous sexual caste system (the net effect of female sexual passivity and perpetual availability as presented in all media all the time ad infinitum, ad nauseum, ad fuckoffium). Women, simply put, are not adornments, and I’m surprised everyday that this argument still needs to be made.

    On the question of what you should do, I say you have to save the life of the person next to you. It is your moral duty to save that life as long as your method for doing so is not ethically or morally bankrupt. Playing the system by taking some super-sexist judge’s shit sometimes has to be done, AS LONG AS you try to counter this asshole judge’s efforts in every other way every other day. But if you turn into that judge, say, or do not work to dismantle the misogynist system you find yourself in, then your efforts eventually turn meaningless. It’ll mean job security for you but thousands more battered women coming down the pike. This judge, the huevos-eaters, the ad makers, the batterers, they’re all in this together. And so it begs the question, who’s it gonna be, us or them?

  44. Anonymous

    Would it help you to think of the sexist bullshit ad(s) as the media arm of the system in which the women you defend find themselves at the business end of a fist? It’s all of a piece, brother — psychic and physical safety.

    If you perpetuate (support, however passively, and w/ distaste even) the sexist ad as an effective means to an end, you do the women who are the victims of a more nefarious expression of passive or objectified personhood significant harm. You save them to be attacked another day in other ways.

    As I’m pointing out for a third time, JC (and later Ron?) pointed out that there were other ways to address the machismo at the root of the problem, which was something I didn’t see. Dude that came up with the ad didn’t see it either, or had already put too much work into it by the time he didn’t want to quit.

    Still, I mean — and this reduces this to a hypothetical were the conditions were as I saw them to begin with — I really feel that inaction has an ethical consequence. If you have a chance of two possibilities, even probably incorrect actions, both of which accomplish ethical good but carry ethical weight, I can’t just do nothing. So if the turtles were dead tomorrow, or soon, and the ad tested well for reducing turtle deaths … I’ve been backed into similar corners before, and I can’t say what I’d do.

    Not that the moral calculus would ever be that clear.

    And so it begs the question, who’s it gonna be, us or them?

    At the end of today, barring the Rapture, it’s going to be all of us. They’re going to be here next week, next month, and next year, and they will be here on the day I die and the day you die. Some of them will find out that they can say the right words and pass, and we won’t ever get to the point where there aren’t some in power, or situations where speaking truth to power screws someone or something you care about. Culture can’t be engineered to do away with monsters — turtle-eaters, rapists, et cetera. We can, at best, exile them to the furthest places, where they can’t do any more harm.

    – ACS

  45. Anonymous

    “You keep railing about me, but you’re not telling me the solution to the problem. I don’t want to keep doing this: I want to quit being a hypocrite. To do that, I need to have a solution.”

    How about setting up some anti-sexism workshops for the judges and law-enforcement you deal with? You said you think they indulge in victim blaming. Give them an alternative point of view to think about. If it wouldn’t be appropriate in your position, see if an outside women’s rights agency can be brought in to confront their prejudices. You may have to bite your tongue with a judge in a courtroom but do you always have to do that in other aspects of your work?

    Read Robert Jensen and John Stoltenberg on masculinity and the ways men oppress women and how it benefits them. You’ve got work to do on your male privilege, like everyone says here, if you are defending the use of sexist advertising to get a point across. Sometimes principles have to be bent. In this case however they don’t.

  46. Anonymous

    “Probably some people will find my next comment out of line, but I actually don’t care right now: I’m finding it creepy and disturbing that someone who believes the only–or at least the best–way to get an effective message across to other men is by dehumanising women is working in any capacity for an organisation that deals with victims of sexual assault.”

    It is disturbing and you were right to call him on it.

  47. Chris Clarke

    So if the turtles were dead tomorrow, or soon, and the ad tested well for reducing turtle deaths … I’ve been backed into similar corners before, and I can’t say what I’d do.

    Maybe we could put the turtles in a room with that straw man, there. They might be able to nest in it.

    I recognize that you’re describing it as a reductio ad absurdum argument now… but if it is, why are we having this conversation?

    Culture can’t be engineered to do away with monsters — turtle-eaters, rapists, et cetera.

    Yep. We’ll always have slave traders, inquisitors, and witch-burners.

    No, wait. Come to think of it, we don’t have nearly as many of those kinds of folks lurking around as we once did. Wonder what happened. Couldn’t have been cultural engineering, could it?

    In any event, calling turtle-eaters “monsters” is ridiculous. Borderline racist, in fact- and that “borderline” is giving you the benefit of the doubt, because I’m a hell of a nice guy that way.

    Most of us do things that are far worse for the world than eating a sea turtle egg. What kind of mileage does your vehicle get, ACS? You know that sea turtles are at huge risk from oil drilling in the gulf of Mexico, right? You have a cell phone? Cell phones are the primary use of an ore called coltan, the market for which drives deforestation – and nasty, horrible genocidal wars – in the Congo basin.

    You have any kids? Are you prepared to call people who bring more larval North Americans into an already overpopulated, overconsumed world “monsters”? Because on the scales of Enviro Justice, one fully-loaded double-barreled stroller full of Brio-chewing, Thomas-the-Tank-Engine-watching future GOP voters counts for far more damage than some schlemiel in Quintana Roo worried about his floppy dick. Do you know how many species native to the Pacific Northwest are in big fucking trouble just so that you can turn on your porch light or have potatoes barged to you from Twin Falls?

  48. Chris Clarke

    And how many lives lost because you forrgot to close that italics tag?

  49. Ron Sullivan

    Know what, y’all? I’m not going to spend any time doing the Inquisition bit on a guy who hitches up his belt on a daily basis and advocates for women in a hostile courtroom. He’s been smart enough to notice that there was likely a better way to do those Don’t Eat Turtle Egg ads, and you know what: He didn’t write or run those ads in the first place. Save your wrath for somewhere it might actually have some use… Like the people who can’t think past their preconceived notions of how to make an effective ad.

    Frankly, I don’t see much of a defense of those by ACS here either. I (to be presumptuous, and please correct me if I’m wrong) suspect ACS is seeing some broad-brush indictment of the compromises he makes in doing his job when he sees people slamming “compromises” in general, and he’s defending himself, not those ads, mostly. I think he’s mistaken in equating what he does with what the ad-people are doing, and I’d hoped that would be clear when I mentioned the male-authority thing. I’d like to separate the two discussions here very firmly.

    Hell, if you want to be all doctrinaire and pure, using a man as an authoritative voice just because it works would also be playing the stereotypes like a piano.

    It just wouldn’t involve female jerk-off decor, which would make it at least one less harness gall to half the populace.

    And Chris, if you think there aren’t any more Inquisitors, look over your shoulder and sacrifice some pizza. I know that spirit, and I’m too familiar with it when it shows up among us treehuggers. It’s paralyzing, and it’s what I was talking about when I dissed the Nearings ‘way back when. The difference is that, as ACS was wishing, the Inquisitors have less State power… sometimes… and we’ve marginalized them a bit.

    I don’t think ACS is suffering from the same failure of imagination as the ad people. I really don’t think that Suddenly I Organized a Discussion Group will work for him, or for his clients. If anyone here wants to volunteer to be the test case, hey get in touch with him. It ain’t me, babe.

    I gotta ask. Has anyone here actually had her or his mind changed on anything big, let alone unexamined, by a “workshop”?

  50. Twisty

    Italics fixed.

  51. Chris Clarke

    Yep, Ron, that’s why I said “not as many.” Which is, obviously, not necessarily a permanent thing.

    For the record, I suspect ACS is probably a net benefit to the planet and the people on it, and I hope he doesn’t mistake my arguing with him for contempt. I agree that the conflation of his doing work while choosing his battles (a good thing) with excusing some careless sexist marketing (a bad thing) was just as sloppy as conflating Mexican guys who eat turtle eggs with rapists.

    As Ron knows, having been subjected to working with me for some decades now, blaming what we used to call Third World people for consuming the increasingly scarce bounty of the natural world is a huge hot button issue for me. Which certainly isn’t to say that I hold them blameless. It’s just too easy to criticise people who have far fewer options than we do.

  52. Anonymous

    “How about setting up some anti-sexism workshops for the judges and law-enforcement you deal with?”

    We do this. In your experince, does doing this for a hostile audience ever create any road-to-Damascus conversions? If it does, I’d like to rip off your curriculum.

    Number of cops/prosecutors that have approached me, thinking I’m ‘on their side’ about their complaints about SA/DV trainings: two. Appropriate facial expression while trying to deflect complaints with, ‘You know, there’s a lot of good information in there,’: unknown.

    “Yep. We’ll always have slave traders, inquisitors, and witch-burners.

    No, wait. Come to think of it, we don’t have nearly as many of those kinds of folks lurking around as we once did. Wonder what happened. Couldn’t have been cultural engineering, could it?”

    The slave trade, the inquisition, and witch-burning are all cultural activities. Whether slaves are traded, inquisitions are conducted, or witches are burned requires the consent of a society and the mobilization of a great deal of resources. If you’re talking about private witch-burnings, private witch-burnings have a name: they’re called “murder.”

    Everyone has their own private capacity to rape, even without the consent of their society. There exists tolerance for rape today, but it’s limited and often covert. Take the example of murder: we are almost entirely culturally intolerant of murder. Murder still exists, because all you need to commit a murder is a sharp stick.

    – ACS

  53. Anonymous

    “As Ron knows, having been subjected to working with me for some decades now, blaming what we used to call Third World people for consuming the increasingly scarce bounty of the natural world is a huge hot button issue for me. Which certainly isn’t to say that I hold them blameless. It’s just too easy to criticise people who have far fewer options than we do.”

    Bush meat is one thing. The people that traffic in turtle parts are basically the same thing: extremely poor people who see turtles as their way out of poverty. Quite another are the consumers of endangered animals purported to give people boners. The people that purchase tiger penises, rhino horns, et cetera, et cetera, are not in extreme poverty and just looking a way to survive: they’re the superstitious, boner-seeking upper and middle class, and I have no qualms about condemning what they’re doing.

    – ACS

  54. Chris Clarke

    The people that purchase tiger penises, rhino horns, et cetera, et cetera, are not in extreme poverty and just looking a way to survive: they’re the superstitious, boner-seeking upper and middle class, and I have no qualms about condemning what they’re doing.

    I am in absolute agreement with you here.

  55. Anonymous

    “Number of cops/prosecutors that have approached me, thinking I’m ‘on their side’ about their complaints about SA/DV trainings: two. Appropriate facial expression while trying to deflect complaints with, ‘You know, there’s a lot of good information in there,’: unknown.”

    Maybe you need to start being unequivocal about your support for these workshops and your condemnation of misogyny. I bet they didn’t approach your predecessor in the same way so why are they getting the impression from you that you might think the same way they do? As for road to Damascus conversions, who said that was going to happen? Changing peoples views can sometimes take a long time, especially when they receive social approval for their prejudices. You need to keep chipping away, using any opportunity you can to get the point across. The appropriate expression for someone who is criticising those workshops is surprise that they could even think in such an obnoxious way if you want to be polite, and scorn if you want to let them know your real feelings.

    Are you going to read those authors I recommended? A lot of Robert Jensen’s stuff is on the internet.

  56. Crys T

    “You keep railing about me, but you’re not telling me the solution to the problem.”

    EXCUSE ME???!?!?? If you were referring to me, I sure as hell did give you a solution to the problem: use another damn advertising tactic, because for whatever there is you’re trying to sell, you can find a number of ways to do it that are effective.

    I don’t know what made you so determined to say that the one and only possible tactic for the ads was demeaning women, but HEY, you WERE. I don’t know how much clearer I could have been: the sexist choice was shit; other effective choices are possible–USE THEM. Why on earth is that so hard to grasp?

    And seriously, why do men always feel the need to debate it?

    A: “Actually, you can achieve your goal without treating women as subhuman fuckholes.”

    B: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! You CANNOT!! Sexism is Just the Way Things Are!!!!!”

    A: “No really, look here: I’ve actually set out an example of how it can be done, just have a look.”

    B: (voice rising ever higher) “NO NO NO NO NO NO!!! Women As Fuckholes!!!! It’s the Only Way!!!!”

    A; “No, honest, just have a look. If you don’t like my example, C has done one as well. It can be done.”

    B: (flecks of foam at corners of mouth) “You are too naive and stupid!!! Women As Fuckholes or Nothing!!! Those are your choices!”

    Come on, ACS. That’s the argument I was getting from you, and now it seems as if you’re trying to obscure the original point behind a lot of….well, off-the-point dithering, dragging in anything you can think of to detract from the point that the solution to a shitty ad campaign is pretty damn simple.

    My point was that sexism was unnecessary for a successful ad campaign. And I was right. Just because sexism is easy does NOT in any way mean that it is the only thing that the target audience would respond to.

    Which means all the protesting that Women as Fuckholes is somehow working for the greater good–which is a massively repugnant idea….you are actually saying that one specific species of turtle has greater value than all women*–is not valid.

    Still confused?

    And by the way: your analysis of rape as something only “monsters” do in “private” is proof positive that you haven’t got a handle on what rape is, why it exists or how it is perpetuated in this society. I’ll therefore say it again: you have NO BUSINESS being in any way associated with any group that deals however obliquely with female victims of sexual violence. And your reiteration of the idea that women need to basically lay down and spread or at least accept subhuman status when it’s “for the greater good” puts you absolutely beyond the pale.

    *which you pretty much DO state here: “If you have a chance of two possibilities, even probably incorrect actions, both of which accomplish ethical good but carry ethical weight, I can’t just do nothing. So if the turtles were dead tomorrow, or soon, and the ad tested well for reducing turtle deaths”–so perpetuating the idea of cunts on legs is a-ok as long as the ads “test” well (completely ignoring, of course, that there very well could be other, nonsexist ads that might test as well or even better….no, hell, when you can slap up a side of woman-as-meat without even having to think about it, hey, just do it. After all, it’s not, and NEVER FUCKING WILL BE ACS who suffers from this. Just go with it.)

  57. Christopher

    Um… when ACS said “You keep railing about me, but you’re not telling me the solution to the problem.” he was talking about sexist judges, not this ad campaign.

    He was saying that his choice often seems to be between appeasing sexist Judges, and thus gaining the women he represents some legal protection, or between being confrontational with them, and thus risking that the women he represents will not have adequate protection against abusers.

    He was asking, essentially, what you would do to signal your displeasure to sexist judges while at the same time managing not to come out worse legally speaking.

    He’s pretty much admitted that there were alternative strategies for this ad.

    Anyway, I’m new here, so I have to ask, is it ever okay to use sexy women in an ad? Heck, is it ever okay to even look at sexy women?

  58. Twisty

    Heck, is it ever okay to even look at sexy women?

    The sad truth is that in a patriarchy, women are not fully human. We are the sex class. When you are “looking at” a “sexy woman” you are oppressing her. Think you’re in an untenable position? How do you think she feels?

  59. Crys T

    Christopher: and I pointed out that he was dragging in all those other topics to distract from the real topic of the thread, and his defence of the ads.

    And as for the “looking at sexy women” thing, hell, don’t you even see how that idea springs from your sense of entitlement? That you could even consider that other human beings have a function of pleasing/arousing you?

  60. Christopher

    “And as for the “looking at sexy women” thing, hell, don’t you even see how that idea springs from your sense of entitlement? That you could even consider that other human beings have a function of pleasing/arousing you?”

    Well… kind of. But does the fact that I think some women are pleasing to look at then imply that their purpose is to please me?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>