The history of sexist advertising is being flipped. It's amazing, but it's not enough.

A new, very NSFW ad campaign is turning one of the most played-out advertising tropes on its head in a brilliant way.

The campaign, by women's suit-maker Suistudio, is called "Not Dressing Men." The ads consist of sharply dressed, suit-clad women striking powerful poses while naked men lounge in the background, reduced to the role women have so often played in advertising: objects.

Photo courtesy of Suistudio.


According to Suistudio USA vice president Kristina Barricelli, the company is simply filling an empty space left by advertising's very one-sided history of objectification.

"There is nothing wrong with sex, the naked human body, and the inclusion of that in a campaign. Sex is a big part of fashion," she writes over e-mail. "The problem is that in recent history, we haven’t seen a naked man objectified in the background. How strange! Why not?"

Photo courtesy of Suistudio.

Barricelli is careful not to call the campaign an attempt at gender-flipping, but instead, it's a call to viewers to reconsider the rigid gender roles reinforced through advertising over the years. That the campaign has to do with suits — clothing that is more typically coded as masculine — buoys Barricelli's vision.

Filmmaker and activist Jean Kilbourne addressed the role ads play in objectifying women during her 2015 TEDx Talk.

"Women’s bodies are dismembered in ads, in ad after ad, for all kinds of products, and sometimes the body is not only dismembered, it’s insulted," said Kilbourne, outlining some of the many dangers of objectification.

Examples of objectification in advertising from the 1970s: An ad for Mr. Leggs trousers via Adweek (left) and Weyenberg Massagic Shoes via NY Daily News (right).

"When women are objectified, there is always the threat of sexual violence, there is always intimidation, there is always the possibility of danger. And women live in a world defined by that threat, whereas men, simply, do not," Kilbourne explained. "The body language of women and girls remains passive, vulnerable, submissive, and very different from the body language of men and boys. Probably the best way to illustrate that is to put a man in a traditionally feminine pose: It becomes obviously trivializing and absurd."

But simply flipping the role of which gender is being objectified won't solve advertising's sexism problem alone.

In 2016, ad agency Badger and Winters launched the #WomenNotObjects campaign to highlight some of the most absurd and ongoing examples of sexism in advertising. In the campaign's powerful launch video, models hold up copies of objectifying ads and offer sarcastic commentary.

In a 2016 interview about the campaign, Badger and Winters co-founder Madonna Badger explained how she came to realize that this decadeslong practice was neither good for the well-being of women nor the brands themselves.

"Agencies create advertising that promotes not only the product, but also the people who make it," Badger told CNN. "Ads should never 'use people' or take advantage of women and men in any way, shape or form. It should never show people as objects that have NO power NO possibility and certainly are NOT equals."

So while the Suistudio campaign does a great job of shining a light on the one-sidedness of advertising objectification, the ads aren't a solution in themselves — and to be fair, they don't claim to be. Maybe in the course of selling suits via an eye-catching campaign, however, these ads will have the pleasant side effect of encouraging people to get involved with groups like Women Not Objects, the Women's Media Center, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and The Representation Project in their fights for gender justice.

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Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

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Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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