Friday, July 20, 2007

Can't We 'Evolve' Past Sexist Ads?

Some say that my hometown (Pittsburgh) is in the mid-west, which also means that a lot of folks believe that the city is backwards or behind the times. Well, a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette appears to smash that perception.

The article states how all of Pittsburgh’s local TV affiliates have canned a new Trojan ad, which depicts a bar full of pigs (males), and one human woman. As a certain hog and the lady are getting more intimate, the piggy jumps up and heads to a condom-dispensing machine. Upon retrieval of the latex, he too turns in to a human.

Pittsburgh has decided to not run the ad because it is inappropriate, which is very different than the recent slew of stations that are choosing to not air ANY condom ad because it talks about the "immorality of contraception." And while I agree that it is necessary to display ads that show viewers the importance of safe sex (against STDs and unwanted pregnancies), I also agree that by this pig ad is not the right way to go about it.

The ad reinforces the notion that all men are pigs. I would be just as outraged if a commercial was aired depicting women as a dog on a leash (or a group of baby chicks perhaps). The Trojan ad is harmful in other ways as well. It appears to say that men can only rid themselves of the pig spell if they approach a woman (who is of course up to society’s standard of beauty) – meaning all homosexuals are out. It also seems to say that a man is still a dirty, mud-wallowing pig if he is not white.

That being said, I do believe that we should be careful in what we DO advertise. In Pittsburgh one can still watch America’s Next Top Model, or a Viagra ad, or watch a commercial that zooms in and out on a greasy carton of McDonald’s fries. It is important that we send messages that reflect ALL realities, which means making condom ads available for our viewing pleasure (education)…just as long as we are not perpetuating sexist, racist ideals in the process.