Hate women, make money: 8 ads and products that take sexism to new lows

Forget metaphors or subtle stereotyping, these ads and products let contempt for women stand front and center SLIDE SHOW

Topics: slideshow, Sexism, Misogyny, Violence Against Women, Violence, Advertising, marketing, , ,

Hate women, make money: 8 ads and products that take sexism to new lows (Credit: Screenshot via KWTX)

A Texas signage company recently made the Internet angry by using an image of a woman who has been bound, gagged and held captive in the back of a truck to sell tailgate decals.

The image is violent and disgusting, but here’s the other troubling thing: It did exactly what owner Brad Kolb intended — drum up new business.

After noting that the decal had brought in new customers, Kolb remarked to a local news station the he “wasn’t expecting the reactions we got, nor do we condone this by any means.” In fact, he is now trying to spin the stunt as an effort to raise awareness about violence against women.

Kolb probably felt pretty comfortable using blatantly misogynistic imagery to make money because there’s a good marketing precedent for this kind of thing. Plenty of ads use women’s bodies and women’s sexuality to sell products, and those ads are undoubtedly sexist and deserving of critique. But some companies take rank misogyny to new lows, cutting away with metaphors and quietly offensive assumptions about gender to let raw contempt for women and a disregard for their safety stand front and center.

A roundup of nine of the worst ads we’ve seen recently:



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    via KWTX

    Sexist ads and products

    The Texas company behind this violently sexist truck decal is terrible. Also: completely unoriginal.

    via Facebook/Destroy the Joint

    Sexist ads and products

    See? The "Ha Ha, I Brutalize and Kidnap Women" motif is, apparently, a popular one in certain corners of truck culture.

    via Ford

    Sexist ads and products

    Taking a slightly different approach to the "Kidnapping Women Is Cool" theme, the Ford Motor Co. and Indian ad agency JWT recently took heat for a series of ads depicting different women being bound and gagged in the rear of a car. The company and the agency would go on to apologize, saying the ads were "never intended for paid publication."

    via Ford

    Sexist ads and products

    Another ad from the Ford series, this time featuring Italy's former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and three women who are, presumably, supposed to be escorts.

    Sexist ads and products

    The so-called "zombie" ex-girlfriend shooting target (that happens to look a whole lot like a non-zombie woman wearing a bra) stirred outrage back in May, prompting its maker, ZMB Industries, to recall the item.

    via PETA

    Sexist ads and products

    PETA released a "funny" ad featuring a bruised woman wearing a neck brace, grimacing in pain as she walks home to her boyfriend -- who, thanks to his vegan diet, is fully prepared to have violent sex with her that, judging from her facial expressions, she doesn't seem on board for. Extra points docked for the inclusion of faux-concerned voice over that seems to mock real anti-domestic violence ads!

    via David Yamada and Newworkplace.wordpress.com

    Sexist ads and products

    This McDonald's ad apparently thinks that sexual assault hotlines are hilarious.

    Sexist ads and products

    Consent and privacy are clearly not issues that Mitchum Men care about, as evidenced by this "edgy" bit of advertising from earlier this year. The ad, in full (see the next two slides) reads: "If you convinced her the photos are for your private collection, you're a Mitchum Man."

    Sexist ads and products

    Sexist ads and products

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Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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