Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt
In Jean Kilbourne’s essay, “Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt”: Advertising and Violence, she paints a picture of repression, abuse, and objectification of women. Kilbourne gives an eye-opening view to the way American advertisers portray women and girls. Throughout the essay she has images that depict women in compromising poses. These images are examples of how often we see women in dehumanizing positions in advertisements and how desensitized we have become. Kilbourne implores us to take the media more seriously.
She is putting a microscope on society and showing that the objectification of women is acceptable. Kilbourne’s essay is directed toward a general audience and she does a great job of relating relevant and recent advertisements. She uses popular name brands like Calvin Klein and Prada that most people would recognize. This makes the essay relatable to the general audience that it is directed toward. Kilbourne helpfully uses popular brand names ads in the essay to show the audience how commonplace these images of women being exploited really are.
The ads that she picks to scatter amongst the article are dominant and speak for themselves. There is a picture of a naked woman tied to a tour bus with only watches covering her privy parts. She looks petrified. In the context of a magazine, this ad probably wouldn’t get a second look. When you are reading Kilbourne’s essay on how women are exploited and you look up to see the image of this woman, it creates shock value without Kilbourne have to say a word. It make makes a powerful statement. There is another ad that the author shows, where three men tearing at woman’s clothes.
One man is pulling her arm, another at her leg and the third man has her lifted off the ground by her derriere by pulling the waistband of her pants. The ad looks like it takes place in a back alley. If the ad were a movie, this woman would then be beaten and raped. The image invokes horror. The author does a successful job pointing out that this ad is selling jeans to women at the same time promoting violence toward women. Also, Kilbourne effectively explains alcohol’s major role in sexual assaults and rape. She states, “between one-third and three quarters of all cases of exual assault involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, the victim, or both. ” (Greene and Lidinsky 598) She binds this in with how advertisements endorse violence toward women by giving examples of alcohol adds promote making bad decisions or not remembering what you have done. An ad that Kilbourne uses explain, is a bottle of Smirnoff and in the background there are a bunch of sheep, but when you look through the bottle you see a wolf in sheep’s clothing. She influentially notifies how often alcohol is present in date rapes. Over half of all reported rapes on college campuses occur when either the victim or the assailant has been drinking. ” (Greene and Lidinsky 598) She is divulging how women turn on each other. She commendably argues how women blame each other and how we are part of the problem. Kilbourne’ convincing language throughout the essay invokes a very strong reaction. For me the language was effective but I can see how it could put some audiences off. She could have been more effective to a broader audience if the language was less offensive.
Kilbourne incessant use of words like rape, violence, sex, and addiction were used throughout the essay. These words might be a reach for some, when going from an advertisement to directly link it to horrible words rape, desensitizes them to saying like these. Kilbourne’s style is direct and to the point. It is effective if you agree. The tone is incredible intense and again if you agree it is effective but it could be off-putting if you are not as passionate about the media exploiting women. Kilbourne successfully switches from second to third person.
Specifically when she references an instance of a jury that was mostly women did not find a man guilty of rape because the accusing woman was wearing Victoria’s Secret underwear when the rape occurred. “Women are especially cruel judges of other women’s sexual behavior, mostly because we are so desperate to believe we are in control of what happens to us. ” (Greene and Lidinsky 598) She makes a general statement about women and then draws you in by having a personal knowledge being woman. Kilbourne is reaching with her attempt to try to tie addiction with advertising exploiting women.
There isn’t a transition between the two and leaves readers questioning if she started a new essay and/or what in the world does this have to do with advertising. It seems, in her passion trying to convince the reader about advertisement’s exploiting women, she feels as long as she has a reader on the hook, lets point out some other problems that women have that are not their fault. She jumps from alcohol addiction to eating disorders. Kilbourne makes valid points on these subjects but loses the reader along the way. By the time you finish the essay, you are left confused about what you just read.
She does a shoddy job at best to try to intertwine addiction and advertising. Making them separate essays would have helped her argument for both topics. Although Kilbourne makes an effort to address the opposing side, I can see where someone who disagrees with her stance has a valid argument on stating that she is bias. She tends to generalize advertisements and also stretch her interpretations to ads to back up her argument. These points make the essay look one-sided and take some credibility away from her overall point.
Kilbourne’s essay is overall effective in getting her point across. It is obvious that she has spent an ample amount of time researching and gaining statistics to support her claims. Her voice is powerful throughout the paper. Although there are some weak points and one-sidedness, overall it is a thoughtful essay by a scholar that is very well versed in the subject. ? Works Cited Greene, Stuart, and April Lidinsky. From Inquiry to Academic Writing: a Text and Reader. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008. Print.