There are some old-time traditions in my current hometown that I could happily live without. But boy, am I enjoying seeing some of that old-time feminism Spaniards are showing off these days.
Italian fashion designers Dolce & Gabbana, who push the edge with their advertising, fell completely over the side when they came up with this ad trying to glamorize gang rape to sell clothes. The Spanish government called them on it, and D&G pulled the ad, sniffing that Spain was “behind the times.” Except Spain’s actions apparently nudged home country Italy to complain too. And now the designers have pulled the ad all over.
Spain’s protest has that old-timey feel to it, because it seems U.S. feminists have mostly given up on this kind of concern. Kim Gandy, National Organization for Women (and there’s an old-timey organization) president, in a Newsweek article, says there were campaigns against ads in the ‘70s and ‘80s, some of which would look mild compared to the more outrageous ads these days. But nowadays ads mostly get a free pass. Newsweek’s interview with Gandy points out that the same D&G ad ran without controversy in Esquire in the U.S. Some of the current ads NOW has put on its web page about sexist ads, in fact, reek of the same kind of offensiveness as was around in the aura of disco and big shoulder pads and “Fly Me, I’m….” The site would be quaint and irrelevant, except these are ads that someone came up with…yesterday.
But Spanish feminism took off later than the U.S. movement, so Spanish feminists do still get offended at some of this stuff and take it seriously. Not that the country is generally near as prudish as the U.S. You can get your share of naked bodies and occasional softish-core porn on regular TV channels. Leading Spanish newspaper El País a few months ago had two naked women embracing on its Sunday magazine cover. Major, mainstream newspapers have their sex blogs and columnists (this one’s for over 18 and may show bare flesh). No one bats an eye. But there’s sex and fantasy and then there’s abuse, and protesters said the D&G ad crossed a line, encouraging violence against women.
Now, the plot thickens. D&G is boycotting Spain, pulling out all their advertising because they say their “creativity” is threatened and they’re facing “censorship.” And they’re encouraging other designers to do the same, including Armani, which is being eyed by Spain for an ad critics say sexualizes children – it’s the picture here on the right (with some background music) showing two little girls hugging, one in a bikini top, both in make-up.
No offense intended to the fine advertising professionals out there, but we’re talking about commerce, not art. Advertising can be well-done, artistic commerce, but it’s still intended to move the clothes. Art should be free to be, but for D&G to claim their creativity is repressed when they really mean they want to up their sales of tighty whities is hilarious.
As the Newsweek article points out, it’s all publicity for D&G. And I’m highly amused to live in a country being boycotted by a fashion company.
Spain, as you might remember, kicked off whatever movement exists against too-skinny models when the Madrid fashion shows set minimum weight measurements for models. So could this be the start of a real fashion war between Spain and the industry? What’s next, cutting off our supply of sequins? Or armies of tall models protected by oversized sunglasses marching through the center of Madrid trying to muster up the strength in their thin arms to lob their suitcase-sized, leather and metal-studded purses at pedestrians? Or, worst of all, trying to wrap us all up in colored foil like giant-sized, drugstore Easter basket, candy rejects? I better go shopping before it’s too late.