What’s with the aviation industry?

// 17 February 2009

southwestern-1.jpgThe Southwest Airline blog posted enthusiastically about how they’ve wrapped one of their planes with an advert for Sports Illustrated magazine:

This definitely seals the deals on Southwest Airlines’ FUN and edgy factor!

Err, well, that’s one way to see it. This is the same airline, of course, which chucked a woman off her flight because they considered her outfit too revealing.

As a commenter on the Wired post says:

Promoting SI on a plane is fine, but how about putting an SI cover with Venus Williams holding up a Wimbledon trophy instead?

Of course, this follows hot on the heels of Virgin Atlantic’s advert that we were all astounded that the Advertising Standards Agency decided wasn’t sexist at all. Then there was Ryanair’s ‘sexy schoolgirl’ ads, and their “beds and blowjobs” gimmick last summer. Then there’s Sprint Air in the US, which played on the “MILF” thing.

Flight attendents don’t like this either, as you might imagine. In response to the last example, their US union said:

“For Spirit flight attendants, the sexist and shameful advertising that management continues to associate our carrier with is embarrassing and diminishes our role as safety professionals,” said Deborah Crowley, AFA-CWA Spirit President. “As the face of the airline to many passengers, it is embarrassing for Spirit flight attendants to work for a management team with such little regard for so many outstanding employees.

(H/T solobassstever)

Comments From You

Leigh // Posted 18 February 2009 at 9:34 am

The ASA wrote “We considered that the ad was unlikely to be seen as sexist or derogatory towards women or to cause serious or widespread offence. ”

Sadly I think this is true. So many women are happy to see and evaluate themselves according to sexist standards that obvious gender bias fails to offend them.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 18 February 2009 at 10:57 am

There have been innumerable complaints to the ASA regarding the now routine sexualisation of women and girls by the advertising industry. ASA has consistently refused to accept such sexually degrading advertisements are misogynistic or promote a climate of male contempt for women.

Irrespective of whether or not some women consider these sexually degrading advertisements ‘harmless’ the issue is the ongoing normalisation of women as men’s sexualised commodities.

One can make the same argument with regards to racism and homophobia because not all within these groups consider racism and homophobia is rife, but again this misses the point – because when women are commonly represented as men’s sexualised commodities and institutions such as the male-dominated ASA refuse to recognise the issue it becomes a ‘non-issue.’

We are indeed in the midst of an immense backlash against the few gains feminists attained and once again profit is the reason and it is so much easier to portray one half of the human race as sexualised commodities. Reason is because patriarchy is very much alive and kicking and of course men as a group are not represented as women’s sexualised commodities. Women still have a very long way to go before we achieve our rightful dignity and respect from ‘mankind.’ (sic).

Victoria Dutchman-Smith // Posted 20 February 2009 at 10:32 am

Jennifer’s comment is spot on. Normally when I read this blog I can feel quite fired up about things, but this just leaves me depressed. Particularly the ASA’s comment on the Virgin ad: “We considered that most viewers would understand that the ad presented exaggerated stereotypical views of the early 1980s and played upon perceived attitudes of that time in a humorous way.” But these “stereotypical views” are offensive and it’s not “humorous”. What other forms of prejudice is it now apparently okay to “play upon”, on the grounds that while these attitudes may have ruined people’s lives, it’s all a bit “retro” now? It does create a real feeling of powerlessness to see that the ASA is essentially a brick wall on this matter.

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