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Freedom of Speech or Respect of Human Dignity?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at OK State chapter.

The privilege given by the First Amendment of the US Constitution to have free speech makes many rules avaiable to advertisers without any regulation. That’s fine: Free speech is a necessity in a democratic society; that’s a fact I’ll never question, but what if the privilege to have freedom of speech undermines human dignity, and  what if advertising plays with a women’s intimacy to sell any product? 

Here is a big struggle between freedom of speech and human rights where protecting one means jeopardizing the other.

Advertising that devalues human’s dignity is dismembering and dehumanizing should not exist.

Dolce & Gabbana’s advertising depicting a women being restrained on the floor by a half-naked man, while three other men stand around her and look shocks me so much, as it clearly depicts gang rape. A women with an alienated expression and an absent look, in a passive and helpless position, immobilized and subjected to a man’s will is a great representation of violence toward women. Seriously, where is the artistic content in it? What is the point of this ad apart from legitimating rape and violence against women in real life?

I can imagine it works and sells, even if the link between the product and sex is slim at best… And beyond sales, it’s about building an unique brand image. In using shocking advertisings, and thus cutting through a cluttered marketing environment, a brand may try to market itself as “edgy” and “daring”. But not sure that women would rather not feel humiliated, and basically used as piece of meat for selling a product. 


So… what to do against this problem ? 

 Maybe, America should take governmental measures like in Norway and Denmark where sexist advertising is formally forbidden, or like in London where the new Mayor Sadiq Khan, has banned body shaming advertisements in public transport. Or even changing people’s viewpoints, because this is an social issue that concerns everyone, because it’s about respecting human dignity.


All that is not feminism, becasue it can certainly apply to men also, but most would seem to be common sense.