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Selling Sex To Market A Product

January 15, 2014

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned. Maybe I just don’t understand it. Maybe I’m just being puritanical. Then again, maybe I just have more respect for women (and myself) than those making the decisions on what it takes to market women have. Maybe I denounce and curse in the harshest possible terms the idea that we as a society (read men) only respond to a product if the woman selling it is all but naked.

I’m taking a turn from the themes I usually write about. This weekend I saw two things that I personally found demeaning to humanity and humiliating to women. The first was a woman on ESPN Classic Channel emphatically making the argument that the only way to save the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) and pack the arenas is to have the women athletes wear skimpier clothing, i.e., show more flesh. She was adamant as she said, “There are some great bodies under those uniforms” and people need to see them. She said something else to the effect that we need to see those legs or hot legs or something along those lines which was short for people (read men) will only come to the games if the women athletes are half-naked. Another person drew the connection to women’s beach volleyball. I believe the exact comment they used was “less is more” as in less clothing when it comes to selling women’s sports. To which I respond, “Who says? Who makes up that rule?”

The other thing I saw, which was also on ESPN Classic Channel, was a program about Danica Patrick, the female race car driver. Part of the show centered on her main sponsor and how she had made them a ton of money by essentially wearing a g-string and doilies. The program showed one of her commercials with three male teenagers talking about how easy it is to use the product that Patrick endorses. Then, as they’re staring at the computer screen, Patrick appears wearing a towel, makes a comment about the product, drops the towel and supposedly steps naked into the shower — “rest left to imagination…fade to black.”

Look, I’m a divorced father, who was married for 31 years, who maintains a very close friendship with his former wife. We have a grown son. I am not now nor have I ever been a prude. But I do have a sense of what I view as decency and self-respect that I refuse to compromise on. I believe women are to be treated with respect, but at some point that begins with them having respect for themselves.

The women’s movement for decades said women were objectified. The women’s movement told us that sex within the marital relationship was legalized rape. They argued that women were sexual slaves shackled to servitude and sexual abuse by a wedding ring. They opposed the objectification of a woman’s body. To be fair, most of the women making those claims were unattractive to the point that they made Ray Charles thankful he was blind, but that’s not my point. Now supposedly women have come a “long way,” and how are they doing it but by selling T&A? We see it on Fox News. A cursory google search found 2.7 million hits when I typed in “panty shots of Fox News hosts.” And, no, I did not click on any of the links; I was looking for a number to quantify the point I am making.

My consternation is precisely about reducing women and men to animal levels. I’m a man, and I can tell you we’ve been blessed with wonderfully good imaginations. I object to the idea that the only way a woman is marketable is if she looks good in a bra and panties. Who came up with that idea? Who made it a rule?

If I had a daughter, I would be outraged at the thought that the only way she would be marketable is if she were willing to take her clothes off. Are we really supposed to believe that the only way for the hamburger chain Carl’s Jr. to increase burger sales is to have a scantily clad Paris Hilton humping and gyrating as she washes a car? Maybe if they made a better burger they could sell more of them which would translate into more people hearing about their product. I do not recall Burger King, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, or Long John Silver’s having to stoop to such lowbrow theatrics to sell their products.

I do not buy into the need for a bra-and-panties basketball league. Women professional basketball players are amazing athletes who have worked their entire lives to hone their skills, and yet they are supposed to believe the only way their product can become popular is if they take their clothes off? Despite her won/loss record, Danica Patrick is a worthy race car driver; it offends my sensibilities to think that the only reason she is marketable is that she is willing to take her clothes off.

What does it say to our young boys and young men who are being bombarded with such rot? What messages are we really sending in these instances? If angry old battle-axes argue that marriage makes women sexual slaves and objectifies them, what does a half-naked Paris Hilton gyrating on a car to sell hamburgers do?

These are my musings. I’m not trying to convince anyone else of my position, but, with that said, I do not believe I am wrong in thinking as I do. Has the marketing society come down to the next great marketable woman being the one who looks best with her clothes off? Where does it end? Do we want our daughters and little girls growing up thinking the only way they can become marketable athletes is if they are willing to take their clothes off? How long before the marketing of a product half-naked isn’t enough? How long before some marketing genius pushes the envelope beyond just half-naked?

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Mychal Massie

About the Author

Mychal Massie

Mychal S. Massie is an ordained minister who spent 13 years in full-time Christian Ministry. Today he serves as founder and Chairman of the Racial Policy Center (RPC), a think tank he officially founded in September 2015. RPC advocates for a colorblind society. He was founder and president of the non-profit “In His Name Ministries.” He is the former National Chairman of a conservative Capitol Hill think tank; and a former member of the think tank National Center for Public Policy Research. Read entire bio here

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