Daria J. Odegaard and Angela Bachman, Fargo-Moorhead letter: Billboards prime examples of the objectification of women
In 2006 it was reported that men sexually assaulted 754 women in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Due to the prevalence of domestic violence and sexual assault in our community, a domestic violence and rape prevention committee was formed with members of...
In 2006 it was reported that men sexually assaulted 754 women in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Due to the prevalence of domestic violence and sexual assault in our community, a domestic violence and rape prevention committee was formed with members of our community and is facilitated by the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center.
It is this committee's mission to lead, challenge, advocate for, and support the community in the quest to prevent first-time victimization and perpetration of intimate partner and sexual violence. The Centers for Disease Control has backed committees such as this due to the importance of prevention work for all forms of violence.
The American Psychological Association has issued a report about the impact of the media on girls. According to the APA task force, "the proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising and media is harmful to girls' self-image and healthy development."
Due in large part to the media, virtually every girl in America fights a battle against low self-esteem and the impulse to be valued solely for her sexuality (National Institute on Media and the Family). The objectification of women creates a societal belief that violence against women is acceptable and encouraged.
The Rock 102 advertisements, especially the billboards, are a prime example of objectification of women; viewing them as body parts and not as a whole person. This is shown by the photo cropped to cut the woman's head off her body. By doing this, the body becomes depersonalized and viewed as a sexual object, sending the message that she (as a representation of women) cannot think or speak.
The text of the Rock 102 billboard, coupled with the photo, sends a message that women are valued only for their ability to gratify the desires, fantasies and needs of men. Objectification of women is a leading behavioral cause of violence toward women and victimization.
In addition, we see the images as not "real" people as we can assume computerized editing and air- brushed images make her look "perfect." Images such as these may give young girls the idea that this is what they need to look like to be considered sexy or worth our attention.
To assume that all men in our community choose to objectify women, and to assume that listeners may not actually respect women, is insulting. It is argued that the ads are no worse than in magazines. This may be a part of our culture, but it does not mean we have to accept the portrayal of women as sexual objects. When we pick up a magazine, we are choosing to view the contents. When a person is driving through the community and encounters one of these offensive billboards, this is not an active choice and is difficult to miss even if trying to avoid.
If this were your sister, daughter, girlfriend or respected woman in your life, would you like others objectifying her with sexualized thoughts and images? Do the women in your life serve more of a purpose and deserve more respect than that?
Please consider your support against the objectification of and violence toward women. We are requesting that you contact the advertisers of Rock 102 and request their immediate withdrawal of support of Rock 102 billboards and programming that objectifies women. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of advertisers.
Odegaard and Bachman are public educators with the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead. E-mail email@example.com