Social Challenges

January 21, 2009 at 11:34 AM (Gender Norms and Expectations, Homosexuality, Uncategorized)

This week we will examine five images of sexual imagery being used as social critique or challenge.waygay

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The first image we see is an advertisement from Abercrombie and Fitch. Although there is no way of knowing for sure if this is a homosexual couple for not, the two men portrayed as laying around the house in a relaxed way. The gaze of the men looks to be directed at the male viewer, as this advertisement was found in the men’s clothing section of the 18 years-old and over catalogue. The shirtless man cuddles in closely to the clothed man. The both have mischievous smiles on their face which makes me wonder what exactly they were up to before lounging.  Rugby?  Probably not. Abercrombie and Fitch has made an effort to include pictures of couples of all sexual orientations, including a lesbian wedding photo in their clothing catalogue.

The Pink video has been revered as being one of the only pro women music videos that both celebrates female sexuality and transgresses the norms of it. While Pink may be a beautiful and sometimes scantily clad singer, the video “Stupid Girls” pokes fun at other young Hollywood starlets who compromise themselves for fame and fortune. Like the website Suicide Girls, Pink confronts the norms of male expectations. She makes fun of plastic, blonde, fake-breasted women and tries to show the little girl in the beginning of the music video that there is a power a woman can hold by being beautiful, smart, and athletic. Pink continues to challenge social norms of female sexuality while singing about girl power on her latest album.

The third image is from the Gay Times, a magazine published in the United Kingdom. Both images were posted in the Tube (London’s metro underground transportation), but one was banned. Both images suggest interracial male sexuality, but one was banned. Perhaps there was too much touching, and the fact that his hips were glued to his partner’s side gave him a personality, like a longing for one another. The second picture, which was allowed, only shows a man reaching behind the other man taking away affection, love, caring, and personality altogether. The man in front has a wide stance and a look on his face that declares “this is just a sexual image; I do not care about the model behind me.” While the touching of bodies, and face from the first image, show more than fashion. It shows a relationship, which was ultimately banned.  At least the Gay Times tried to challenge social norms.

The second video is from Bjorn Borg, a fashion designer who declares “Love for All” in her gay marriage friendly television advertisement. The ad features a church and wedding going on but does not allude to it being a male-male marriage until the final kiss. Not only is it a gay marriage, a female priest leads the ceremony. Bjorn challenges the norms of organized religion by saying, “love for all” and that women can be spiritual leaders also. While an ad like this has yet to make it to the United States, it is available for Americans to view on the internet and hopefully Europe will set the tone for acceptable sexual behavior on television; “Love for all.”

Bianco, a shoe company often features gay friendly advertisements in European catalogue and on the internet. In this photo, two women embrace one another on the edge of a bed. Although it transgresses norms of just hetero couples featured in ads, there are no shoes in the photo, and both women are barefoot.  I am not sure the advertisement exactly advertises anything they are trying to sell, but it is a step in the right direction. I say this because; these two women are not portrayed as pseudo-lesbians gazing in the male direction. Instead, they are portrayed as a couple that spends quality time together, and the soft touching of each other’s legs suggests a comforting relationship.

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