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Can You Spot the Sexism?

 by Lisa Gulya


Tags: Media, media criticism, feminism, advertising, sexism, Minnesota Women’s Press, Ms.,

The current issue of the Minnesota Women's Press improves upon one of Ms. magazine's popular sexism-shaming features. The Ms. version, "No Comment," simply reprints offensive ads alongside contact info for the companies they represent (here's an example, from the Spring 2005 issue). The Women's Press iteration may be a copycat, but its copy is better executed—it actually spells out what's offensive about the ad in question, a bit of directness from which the Ms. feature could benefit.

In this case, the Women’s Press takes on a BMW ad for pre-owned cars, which displays a come-hither-looking blonde woman with the caption “You know you're not the first.” “Isn't it common knowledge,” the Women’s Press snarks, “that a good used woman is just like a good used car? Or maybe the car is preferable because it doesn't talk back—or doesn't ask questions about a man's past ‘driving history.’”

Some people don’t get puns, and some of us don’t immediately spot sexism in the tiny reprinted versions of these ads—I’ve stared at more than one in Ms. without realizing what the problem is—and most of the time, a little context or analysis goes a long way.

mary c._2
12/3/2009 4:21:57 PM

Sorry to disagree (after almost a year and a half at that!), but I think the point of the No Comment feature is that the examples are so embarrassingly sexist that there's nothing more to be said. That's what it's called what it's called. Spelling out what's offensive about the ad is like explaining a joke!


steph g_4
8/6/2008 1:45:11 PM

Yay, MWP! I, too, have sometimes wondered what the big deal was with certain "No Comment" examples (although most of them are fairly obvious). A little context goes a long way. I wonder, is there anyone out there taking on television commercials in a similar way? Personally, I think many are as offensive to men as they are to women. Most t.v. commercials portray men as shallow numskulls who can barely wipe their own asses. Steph Glaros