And, since I’m clearly the sort of person who likes to harp on things that divide us, let’s talk about cleavage.
You know: breasts.
After all, as my wise daughter once proclaimed in Starbucks, “Everybody has boobs or knows someone who does.”
I’ve seen several different local events promoted recently with photos that rely on “boobage” as the kids say. Big eye-roll from me over here. When I see such adverts I know that: a man is pitching to men, the male gaze is considered most important, and that I’m not the target audience for such an event.
“So what?” you say. “Not every event is meant for you, and it doesn’t have to be.” That’s true. But often such events are intended for both men and women but the pitch is default (heterosexual) male-oriented. So that message is telling me that while they may want my patronage, they don’t really care much for who I am.
On the other hand, if these are events not particularly meant for women the boob-centric advertising is still problematic. Why? Because it contributes to a culture that believes that all women are essentially potential sex providers depending on the whim of the men involved. Remember this?
He was just bargaining for sex, it isn’t like he did anything without her consent.
Add to this the fact that many such promotional photos are for events that feature alcohol, and it all feels a good deal creepier. And dangerous. “Come looking for boobs and get liquored up” is a recipe for lines to be crossed and boundaries to be violated. Honestly, guys, boobs are not to be purchased, traded, hoarded, or displayed as part of a set like baseball cards. They do not exist to increase your personal status amongst other men.
If anyone reading this would like more opinions on this topic I highly recommend this Twitter thread, which begins:
@_katherine_may: A note from a very weary editor, to all male writers:
Women's breasts are not communication devices. They are not sending you, or your male protagonists, encoded messages. They are, in fact, insentient. They neither dance nor issue invitations.
In conclusion, if you are promoting local events and all you can come up with as a selling point is boobs, try again. Get a second opinion. Here’s a thought: maybe ask a woman.