Violence against women is… sexy?

No, that can’t be right.

But then why have well known names such as MTV and Louis Vuitton used violence against women as an advertising tactic?:

You probably wouldn’t guess it (I certainly didn’t), but this ad from MTV is actually promoting safe sex.  The tiny little writing in the top right corner reads: “Girls, protect yourself. Demand your partner wear a condom.”

Okay, I guess that makes sense. This graphic image certainly grabs the viewer’s attention, which is a good tactic to use when addressing such important issues.  That message, however, is not quickly understood.  In fact, I couldn’t even read the text when I downloaded this image and had no idea what this ad was actually trying to promote until I researched it more in depth. The image itself is what is portrayed most dominantly and the subtext of that image is violence, not protection. In AAD252, we have discussed pervasive, invisible and possible images in depth, but not one of those terms seems to fit this particular ad.  If I were stretching the definition, this could be an invisible image as the actually message it is trying to portray is nearly invisible.

On a whole other issue, are we really comparing a penis to a gun here? The pervasive message of this image is offensive/inappropriate in regards to women, but the actual message is offensive in regards to men.

So how could this advertisement be changed to better express the message that the creator was trying to get across? In a discussion on, commentors suggested the use of a revolver instead of the gun chosen to try to compare the Russian Roulette to the chances of getting an STD when participating in unprotected sex. This would certainly bring some light to the message, but I still do not think the image could stand alone. The text needs to much larger and much more prominent for this ad to successfully portray the message of safe sex instead of the unintended message of violence against women.

MTV may have not sexualize violence against women, but I can find no alternative message in this Louis Vuitton advertisement.

The focus is apparently supposed to be on the designer shoes, but the eye does not immediately go to the product. Instead the viewers eyes follows down the legs of an apparently naked woman leaning against a large target, with a number of knives sticking out around her legs… How this image relates to designer shoes, I am not sure.

Perhaps the addition of violence connotations is Louis Vuitton’s attempt to draw in the male consumers, as the headline states “Shoes for men and for women.”

Whatever the intended message behind this ad, it instead (and hopefully unintentially) sexualizes violence against women. Perhaps the creators realized that shortly after releasing this image, since I it is not one that seemed to have circled far – I can’t even find it again.


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