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#Femvertising 2016: Why don’t men care more about sexualized women in ads?

We don’t need to be reminded that the advertising we see impacts the way society views women, but the results of SheKnows Media’s 2016 research on #femvertising — advertising that employs pro-female talent, messages and imagery to empower women and girls — proves the point yet again. And we’ll just have to keep proving this point until more people pay attention — in particular the people who make the adverts that have the ability to send such powerful messages to the world.

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An overwhelming majority — 97 percent of women and 90 percent of men — think the advertising we see affects how we view women. And 90 percent of women believe that portraying women as sex symbols in ads is harmful. Unfortunately only 65 percent of men agree with them. Is this precisely why women continue to be sexualized in advertising — because men simply don’t care enough about how women are portrayed in ads?

Additionally, while 82 percent of women want to see real women in ads, only 65 percent of men agree. And though 60 percent of women believe it is important that people who create the ads are diverse, only 49 percent of men agree. When it comes to our responsibility to the next generation, 92 percent of women think that how they are portrayed in ads has a direct impact on girls’ self-esteem; 80 percent of men agree.

Come on, guys, get with the program.

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Some of the ads called out for portraying women in a negative way are Reebok’s “Cheat on Your Girlfriend, Not Your Workout” (2012), Geico’s “Tarzan” (2016), Dr Pepper’s “Ten” (2011) and DirecTV’s “Marionette Wife” (2014).

It’s not all bad news, however. The #Femvertising Awards are all about celebrating the brands that do get it right. Dove, Always, CoverGirl, Nike, Olay, Yoplait, Playtex, Hanes, Secret and Pantene deserve kudos for challenging gender norms and busting stereotypes.

To those that don’t, pay attention to the following advice from the women who watch your ads (and may not buy your products because you get it so wrong): 

  • You have a huge impact on society. Take your responsibility seriously!
  • Hire women. Listen to them. Be equals. Trust the opinions of women.
  • Providing positive, all-inclusive messages will only improve your bottom line.
  • Think about the long-term effect your advertising has on girls and young women.
  • Any kind of stereotype — gender, race, size, age — is a huge turnoff.
  • Stop touching up photos, and show how people really look.
  • Not all men are “manly.” Not all women are sex objects. Kids are smarter than you think.
  • Feature women of all races and skin tones doing amazing things.

Congratulations to the 2016 #Femvertising winners: Bud Light (Humor); General Mills (Wildfire); Girls Who Code (Next Generation); Organic Valley (Hatch Kids’ Choice); Pantene (Dadvertising); Red Elephant Foundation (People’s Choice), Under Armour (Inspiration) and Women Not Objects (Social Impact).

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For more information, visit SheKnows Media #Femvertising Awards.

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