Is it just us, or does advertising really blow lately?

So you thought the advertising industry had reached its lowest low with last month’s Super Bowl Misogynfest? Yeah, us too, but it turns out it’s not over yet. Advertising’s latest trend? Blow jobs.

Exhibit A: Durex

Where to start? Well, first of all, the word choice here tips us off to a few things: Men are controlled by their erections, and women are made up of fruits and contentment and everything nice (oh, and we love giving head). Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with some good ol’ fashioned consensual oral sex, but this ad is taking a consensual act and de-leveling (un-leveling?) the playing field by attempting to provide us with the subjects’ innermost thoughts. Now we can see, even if things look pretty equal, that the woman’s “luscious and dainty” brain is inferior to the man’s “judgment and knowledge” (located in his crotch). Um, at least they’re using a condom?

Exhibit B: France’s Anti-Smoking Ad

As Melissa at Shakesville points out, this ad is more than just a misguided attempt to equate smoking with oral sex – it is also a depiction of blatant sexual assault. The models (clearly quite young, so we’re looking at statutory rape here at best) are being told by the text that smoking turns you into a slave. Presumably in the same way that they are depicted as “sex slaves” in this image? Gérard Audureau, the president of Droits des Non-fumeurs (creator of the campaign), defends the ad by saying, “Using sex is a way to get [young people’s] attention. And if it’s necessary to shock, let’s shock.” This image goes way beyond “shock,” and when it comes to young people (or any people), forced oral sex should not be used as a scare tactic.

Exhibit C: Canadian Council for for Israel and Jewish Advocacy

Girl: Uhhh…
Boy: What?
G: Don’t be mad…It’s just that it’s small…
B: Small?!
G: I don’t know if I can go there.
B: I consider this a spot of worship. It may be small, but it’s brought the driest places to life. Baby, this is paradise. [camera pans to show map of Israel and tourist guidebooks covering boy’s crotch].
G: OK, but if I go down there for you, you have to promise you’ll down south for me next winter.

Hey potential male tourists! Traveling to Israel is just as good as getting a blow job! And you won’t even have to go down on your girlfriend until next winter! Jokes about oral sex on small penises are always hilarious, especially when they’re used to promote potentially life-changing spiritual pilgrimages.

Blow Job Wrap Up:

OK, so we might not be looking at a future where all advertising will feature blow jobs. But! Three recent campaigns are choosing to take the blow-jobs-are-edgy-and-will-get-us-attention route, and that is three to many judging from the ways in which they’ve gone about it. Sexism? Check. Grotesque depiction of sexual assault? Check. Schlocky jokes about small penises and the horrors of cunnilingus? Check. Focusing on male sexual satisfaction only? Check. (Although, to be fair, the Durex campaign includes an image of the couple having penetrative sex where the woman is having an orgasm, but the focus is still on the guy’s junk.)

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that these ads all coming to our attention at the same time is just a coincidence, and not evidence of a new and unwelcome trend in “sexy” advertising. Because that would really suck.

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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23 Comments Have Been Posted

Fatal error?!

I've seen that first ad before, and as gross as it is, what really boggles me is the whole "fatal error" business. Does the mean the man doesn't want to be blown, or that he considers himself or the woman a "fatal error?" Huh? And total FAIL for the "boobs" and "bush" placement—way to objectify, folks.

Fatal Error...

if you notice where "brain," "judgement," and "knowledge" are placed...and the rest of the man is "fatal error"...I think it's stating that the man thinks with his groin.


that first one is unintentionally funny because of the giant typo on the woman's side, "satisfield". Though I'm confused why her crotch is *thinking* "bush bush bush".

my boobs think "boobs" all

my boobs think "boobs" all the time, yours don't?

ps great typo noticing.

In one of the other Durex

In one of the other Durex ads, in which the woman is orgasming on a "wood" surface. har har. Anyway, the words 'Elysium' and 'Valhalla' are all over her. I'm pretty sure both of those are from the Viking and ancient Roman cultures and they mean 'the after life'. Yes, it's supposed to be paradise. But it also means... you're dead. Kind of an irreversible thing. I'm all about paradise, but I'm also all about living life, both the ups and downs. I'd like to be able to go back to paradise time and time again. Not just once. And for good.

Le petit mort = french for

Le petit mort = french for orgasm

literal translation: "the little death"

Demoralizing? Yes.

Oral sex is fine and dandy when both parties are willing; it also can be very satisfying for each individual. I believe that men and the social media have made the act of oral sex very demeaning and menial for a woman. This entails makes the above ads very demoralizing for women.

and the "TASTY" that goes

and the "TASTY" that goes down her throat? and all the contented, satisfield, happy, pleased? please.

and most of the guy is a fatal error, except for his crotch? way to prove you hate both women and men durex.

Yeah, what the post

Yeah, what the post said—and as a graphic designer, I'm just horrified that they used the font 'Hobo'.

Durex ad

I am completely aghast at the "feminine" word play on the girl ( I definitely do not go walking around all day thinking those things however pink they may be) but If I was a guy I would be morally offended with the portrayal of men being walking ignoramuses with boners being the main driving force....literally... Great job Durex

My initial reaction to the

My initial reaction to the Durex ad was that it was implying the man had an STD and thus was dangerous, 'fatal'. The brain matter/judement stuff at his crotch is in connection to him wearing a condom, the 'smart' decision. Meanwhile the woman likes the fruity delicious taste of the condom, and it doesn't hamper her satisfaction of the act, while still protecting her from the man.

No one commented on Exhibit B, so I will

"As Melissa at Shakesville points out, this ad is more than just a misguided attempt to equate smoking with oral sex – it is also a depiction of blatant sexual assault."

Is it? ReeeaaaAAAALLLllllllly? A girl goes down on a guy and it's assault?

"The models (clearly quite young, so we're looking at statutory rape here at best)"
WTF those gearls are not OBVIOIUSLY younger than 18, they could be 20 or 21, and they aren't being raped.

"...are being told by the text that smoking turns you into a slave. Presumably in the same way that they are depicted as "sex slaves" in this image?"
Well, that I get. And one can make that assumption based on the visuals, but some girls LIKE being slaves. Granted, whomever came up with this campaign took a real stretch to equate being a slave to both a cigarette and a man are one in the same, but there's an assumption that both are just as bad. Meaning, you don't want to be a slave to the man. My only point is, some girls do. They really genuinely do. Not because they have to, but because they want to.

"This image goes way beyond "shock," and when it comes to young people (or any people), forced oral sex should not be used as a scare tactic."
I agree that sex shouldn't be used as a scare tactic, but royally fail to see how the images above read 'forced oral sex' (although I understand the image's incinuation) these girls are not being forced, or look in any way forced. In fact they both look pretty damn comfortable in that position. Yes, they could be mentally forced. But I don't think the average teen is going to look at that and think, omg those girls are being forced. It just looks dirty.



I have to disagree with you (obviously, since I wrote the original text you are disagreeing with) on this. The French anti-smoking ad depicts two models, one female and one male, who do appear to be quite young (you're right that I can't say for sure that they're under 18, but I'd put a lot of money on it – especially since this is a campaign aimed at young people). Both models have an adult (presumably male) hand pressing down on the tops of their heads. Both models look reluctant and fearful (probably to drive home the anti-smoking message, but since the oral sex metaphor is in play they look fearful of the potential sex act) and, to me, fear+adult hand pushing you toward his crotch+language about being a slave=implied sexual assault.

There is nothing here that indicates that these young people like being slaves, either to the men in the ad or to smoking (the negative aspects of being a slave are being used to send an anti-smoking message here). Though I am with you that some people genuinely do like being slaves, those people are not typically a) under 18, or b) used as a cautionary tale to highlight the dangers of smoking. The very purpose of this ad (to scare teens out of smoking) makes the notion that these models are willing and happy sex slaves highly unlikely.

So to answer your question, "A girl goes down on a guy and it's assault?", no, obviously not. But a woman being pushed down in front of a man's crotch, with a fearful expression and text beneath her that calls her an unwilling slave? Yeah, that is sexual assault.


one doesn't...

...have to make that assumption based on the visuals. One can read the text in French which says to smoke is to be a slave to tobacco. And since it's an anti-smoking ad, one can draw the conclusion that being a slave to anything is in this context negative.

Also, the ad is aimed at young French smokers (according to the org which created the ad), and the French Office for Prevention of Smoking is worried about rising numbers of youth smoking as young as age 14. Whatever the actual age of the models involved, it most certainly is drawing a line of comparison between youth : smoking :: youth : sex slave/assault.


On a wider note, I just read (and misplaced the link/site) a thoughtful comment about the implication of responsibility/guilt on the part of the smoking youth = implication of responsibility/guilt on the part of an assaulted youth. I agree, it's a very disturbing analogy to make, and unpacking it reveals more and more wrongness.

And p.s. to Anon 11:52, of *course* my boobs think boobs boobs boobs all the time, but it's my crotch that likes to diversify. Some days it's "labia labia labia" and other days it's all "clit". ;)

victim blaming

I think another problem is that it's victim-blaming. Like, if you're a smoker, they are telling you to stop smoking. But the ads are likening it to being a sex-slave, so they're sort of mixing messages, like "this is your fault, you are the one who has to fix this," which is a problematic message in the metaphoric-oral sex slave ad. get it? Like it's their fault they are giving blow-jobs to gross older men.

A Man's Perspective

From a Man's Perspective, these ads are simply boring and uninspiring. As a Man I need to be motivated to be all that I can be, to be inspired into action.

After having examining all three advertisements and having read through all of the comments up to this point, I can say one thing for sure, there really isn't anything to be upset about. Lets break each advertisement down and understand why I dislike each.

#1. This is a boring ad, simple as that. Who in the hell really concerns themselves with what a condom company has to say about what men and women are thinking or made up of. The point of a condom isn't to think, its to protect and be thrown away, in the worst way sound *flushing sound*. When considering what men are thinking in juxtaposition to what women are thinking really, well, turns me off. Appreciating this fact, it then becomes important to note that women aren't pink, their awesome!

<i>A portion of this comment has been deleted by the administration due to its mean-spiritedness and ethnocentrism. Now back to the rest of the comment.</i>

So there you have it, my take, as a Man, why these ads are boring and uninspiring.

A man's perspective?

While I wasn't able to read your entire comment, I have to say that it is easy for you to feel that "this is a boring ad" but, if you are truly a Man, you would be bothered by the fact that both men and women are being portrayed in a negative light. What you fail to take into account is that this reduces both to the idea that this is how we think. These ads are/will be seen by many young people and if try to pretend that advertising doesn't have sublimal messages you are kidding yourself. Look at the models used consistently in any and all advertising. Male models can be any size, but have you seen Teen Vogue? Have you seen any Dolce & Gabbana ads?

Do you purchase Axe products?

There are numerous issues going on in the ad, and if you are not offended as a man, you should be offended as a Human Being.

Objectification is never good and when you include submission, force, & sex, everyone loses.


There is no one being objectified!

Riiiiiiight. Because

Because something like "boobs boobs boobs" and "bush bush bush" is objectifying at all. *eye roll*




That is not objectifying. Its sexual.

It's also objectifying. The

It's also objectifying. The two aren't mutually exclusive, dear.

Not Objectification?

The words, put into human form, whether male or female, have portrayed both sexes as simply sexual objects who are reduced to words which seem to represent them, their thoughts, or both. I didn't say this simply from the female perspective. The sex industry, while a booming industry, tends to reduce PEOPLE to a base form which can, and does, degrade everyone involved. While viewing, purchasing, or participating in any part of the sex industry is definitely a personal choice, I believe it tends to do more harm than good for all involved.
I am sure there are ways to market a condom respectfully, and this does not.
Yes, this ad objectifies.

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