Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

June-26-01

Ad Naseum

Bikini-clad cuties cavorting in tropical paradise: just fine. Himbos stripping down to display their goods for discriminating ladies: no problem. Kissing, groping, and nipple-licking of all kinds: bring it on! A woman discussing with her husband the use of a contraceptive spermicide: no way.

That’s the position Fox Broadcasting Company took in January when it refused to air an ad for the spermicide Encare on an episode of its latest gleefully sleazy—and guiltily compelling—reality show, Temptation Island. In case you missed it, TI corralled four unmarried, but committed straight couples into resorts with a dozen “fantasy singles” of the opposite sex so that they could rut like telegenic bunnies; oh, sorry, I mean critically examine the future of their relationships in front of the cameras. Since the show featured plenty of drunken flirting, frolicking, and bod-flaunting, the problem couldn’t have been that the disputed ad—which depicts a phone conversation between a fully clothed married couple—was too racy for the airwaves. And it’s not that advertising dealing with sexual topics is off-limits—the network has run commercials for the erection drug Viagra.

FOX defended its decision by saying that the ad “did not meet broadcast standards in multiple ways,” including a requirement that contraceptive advertising be focused on “health concerns” rather than on pregnancy prevention. Since when is unwanted pregnancy not a major public health issue?

ABC, which also takes Viagra ads, refused the Encare ad, telling Advertising Age that it has never accepted nonprescription contraceptive advertising because “this raises issues that resonate with people on religious, moral, and ethical grounds.” Even with the critically acclaimed, nudity-rich NYPD Blue, ABC’s programming is generally far less provocative than FOX’s, making ABC’s decision slightly less hypocritical. (CBS has already begun airing the ad, and NBC has agreed to do so.)

By FOX’s reasoning, it’s O.K. to woo as many prurient eyeballs as possible for a television show that’s all about illicit sex, as long as you don’t use it to advertise one of the things you definitely want if you’re having illicit sex: a convenient, affordable birth control method. Of course, condoms fit this bill as well, but nary a “latex” was uttered on Temptation Island, in spite of network honchos’ insistence that FOX is oh-so-concerned about disease prevention. Oh, no, such a product might be too much for viewers’ delicate sensibilities.

Of course, there’s no such risk when shilling Viagra, a drug that basically does nothing but enable male gratification and soothe the male ego. After all, in a culture that is too slowly shaking off the double standard dictating pleasure for men and judgment for women, what could be offensive about a product that’s designed to give men the ability to get hard and get off? But a product that addresses an issue consistently faced by all sexually active straight women between the ages of 13 and 50—people might have moral problems with it.

Should feminists really care that a spermicide manufacturer lost out on the perfect marketing opportunity?

At a time when pro-choice organizations must gird themselves for battles over gains we thought we’d won years ago, and pop-culture sexuality is becoming more ubiquitous and extreme, the rejection of a spermicide ad on “moral” grounds takes on larger meaning.

To complicate matters, when it was revealed that one of the couples on TI had a child, they were bounced from the show. TI producers, who maintain they believed all couples to be offspring-free, insisted that they did not want to be responsible for putting “the mother an

Media Resources: MsMagazine


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

1/23/2015 #HeForShe Campaign Launches Pilot Effort Aimed at Institutional Equality - The United Nations' gender equality campaign #HeForShe has launched a new program called IMPACT 10X10X10. United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson, together with UN Women Executive DirectorPhumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, introduced the one-year pilot effort aimed at encouraging corporations, universities, and governments to play an active role in enhancing women's empowerment and equality in Davos, Switzerland today at the World Economic Forum. "Women need to be equal participants in our homes, societies, in our governments, and in our workplaces," Watson said. First introduced in September, HeForShe is a solidarity movement that calls on men and boys to confront gender inequalities that face women and girls globally. . . .
 
1/22/2015 BREAKING: House to Vote on Abortion Coverage Ban - After they were forced to scrap plans for a 20-week abortion ban, House Republican leaders decided late last night to instead ram through a vote today on a different extreme anti-abortion bill. House Republicans are now pushing HR 7, a bill promoted as a ban on federal funding of abortion that would actually prevent women from using their own money to purchase health insurance that includes abortion care. . . .
 
1/22/2015 House Cancels Abortion Ban After GOP Congresswomen Drop Support - House Republicans cancelled plans to vote on a 20-week ban on abortion after Republican Congresswomen removed their names publicly as co-sponsors of the bill. The vote on the unconstitutional 20-week ban had originally been scheduled for today, the anniversary of Roe v. . . .