Sexy billboards: take another little piece of my heart

The Salt Lake community has recently been attacked with media images degrading to women. And, no it is not from television or movies like it so often is, though those outlets are omnipresent as ever. This time it comes from the radio.

What does a radio station–a musical outlet dedicated to sound and rhythm not visual stimuli–have to do with the inappropriate images so readily propagated in the media these days? I ask myself that every time I pass one of the many billboards advertising a local rock and roll station.

This station has decided to use scantily clad, suggestively posed female bodies to advertise music. Not unusual for music videos, it is true. But for an individual station itself? Besides being degrading it is completely absurd. Yet, we live in a society that earns a lot of income from normalized porn. Why wouldn’t a radio station try to tap into it?

I have written to the station, letting it be known how demeaning and offensive such images are. And also how unrelated to rock and roll they are. I even quoted Janis Joplin who said, “Never compromise yourself. It’s all you’ve got,” pointing out that they compromise women everywhere by displaying such images. They completely ignored me. I’m not terribly surprised though disappointed.

There are many problems with these advertisements. There is a disconnect between music and smutty images. There is no reason women should daily be torn down to only our bodies. There is no reason shocking images should be displayed to garner interest in a medium that does not require sight.

But most of all, these billboards represent the epidemic of normalized porn. I have seen so many of these billboards and they have been up for quite a while. How many people see them and don’t think they are a big deal? How many women see them and feel they need to change something about themselves, be more like the suggestive images, to be valued? How many men see those billboards and think it is okay to view women in a such a manner, as merely sexy bodies?

Pornography is so normalized in our society that if I try to have a conversation with someone about why it hurts to see these images everyday, they act like I’m trying to rob the public of freedom. Like I’m trying to force women back into corsets. Like I’m attacking manhood.

I’ve long been fighting normalized porn with discussion and writing. But those billboards really struck a nerve. Perhaps they were the last straw and I can no longer stop at mere talk.

Society has always had ways to keep women down. This is just one more way to do it and it is just as brutal and devastating as anything history or modern society has thrown our way. It might not be the same kind of brutality; it might not leave bruises or broken bones; it might not be a literal corset or glass ceiling; but it is a malicious and devious brutality that once more removes the mind, spirit, and ability from woman.

A Utah-based organization called Beauty Redefined has written a blog post on the subject of normalized porn. They delve into details about the effects of normalized porn in our society. They expound on what I am attempting to say about the devastation that is normalized porn. Find the article here.

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