The advertising industry is no stranger to the idea of objectifying women. Clothing brands to beer companies have relied on sexist campaigns to sell their products. Most of these advertisements, especially for clothing lines, display semi-naked to naked women in provocative poses, trying to allure consumers into buying the advertised product.
Now, Suistudio, a clothing company that designs suits for women, has launched an advertisement campaign titled #NotDressingMen, showing women dressed in suits, striking powerful poses, while naked men hover in the background. The campaign has since gone viral and is being shared widely on social media.
In one of the ads, a naked man is lying on the couch, while a woman… well, manspreads. In another ad, a woman is shown to sitting on a couch with her heels placed on a man’s crotch to show her dominance over him. The campaign aims to be a slap in the face of ads that objectify women. It sends across the clear message that suits (that are generally considered to be symbols of power and style), like power, are not just for men.
While Suistudio’s attempt to send a message across to a highly sexist ad industry by parading naked men instead of women is bold, there’s still an underlying problem with it. Whether it objectifies men or women, it is still centered around normalising objectification, especially to establish power between genders. It sends a message across that to equal the gender scales in the industry and in life, women need to be in bigger positions of power simply because they are women.
Promoting the idea of power in the hands of credible women is great, but to highlight their power by contrasting it with objectified men (and it is the sort of objectification women have been subjected for ages), it’s reducing women’s power to crass displays of sexual ‘ownership’. It sends across a message that a woman is powerful only as long as a she has a boy toy to parade. And more importantly, in the attempt to turn this into a feminist effort, Suistudio forgets that any sexual objectification made with an intention to establish power dynamics between the sexes is only counter productive to the cause of equality.