What? Using Sex To Sell Something?

    January 23, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

BET.com recently dropped a section of its website offering photos of scantily-clad, suggestively-posed women. BET says they removed their "B-Girls" widgets as part of a phased plan, but one activist claims it was her staunch opposition to seeing men enjoying themselves that led to the removal.

I kid, I kid. No emails, please. She actually launched a campaign from her blog, which has the purpose of combating "negative images of African-American women," just a few days before BET actually removed it. Gina McCauley perhaps would testify that complaining to advertisers actually works, which is more than the Parents Television Council can say.

In addition to her offense to the images themselves, which featured women in bikinis, and lingerie and the advertisers whose ads appeared next them, McCauley seemed especially incensed at the ease with which the content could be disseminated via widgets:

"If they want to make a widget to disseminate images of B-girls, then why not make the B Girl section about actual B Girls and highlight their talent instead of their tatas," she wrote.

Because nobody would download them is my guess—unless I missed the "Internet is for personality" craze. 

BET said the B-Girls link was removed in November, and the content, which had not been updated in months, was scheduled for demolition as part of a site upgrade. That could be a copout or the truth; we’ll likely never know.

Nevertheless, McCauley’s taking credit for it, on her "whoring out our daughters" followup:

"We pointed out that these same companies would not DREAM of running the same ads on pages featuring similarly clad White women. So last week we challenged McDonalds, Nissan, the Army, Navy, General Mills, and Kraft on their use of Black women as props and prostitutes."

She’s right. Nobody ever advertises in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, Cosmopolitan, or Playboy. But that is pretty rotten about McDonald’s participating in the sex trade industry. Wow. What were they thinking?

There are points to be made, for sure, about the sexed-up and demeaning culture of desire we’ve been launched into over the last century. One could argue several causes for this: men like naked women and that’s a good way to catch their attention, no moral implications needed; sex sells so well that it causes young women and girls to feel bad about themselves and as a result they sex themselves up for attention, which gets them into more media where advertisers are trying to reach young men, a vicious circle; and the Victorian aversion to sexual imagery, activity, and thought has produced an effect whereby those who reject sexual repression are criticized and ostracized by those still very much under the impression or subconscious influence that sexuality is dirty and dangerous in some way.

Perhaps all of them are true, or none of them, but people are somewhat sensibly calling out the inundation of sexual imagery in media as a direct cause of low self-esteem among women. And one can understand also how that low self-esteem could be magnified among a population coming out of oppression of another kind. It is difficult to teach worth when all the images around teach the opposite, or just one kind of worth. So dig, I can understand that.

Doesn’t mean that men will stop wanting to see (or should stop wanting to see) naked women, or that a portion of the female population will allow them (even want them) to see it, or that the activity necessarily makes them "whores."