This week, I did something that has plunged me straight into middle-age, and I might very well be booking my ticket to go “find myself” in India, eating, praying and loving my way to an expanding waistline. I have laid my first-ever complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of South Africa. I always thought that complaining about thing on television was something reserved for pensioners who have to find a hobby when they have retired. But when I raised the issue of my fading youth on Twitter, I was told because I did it online. Whew.
The reason for my swelling belly of bile, which made me throw up in my mouth on more than one occasion, was this video:
Now, I’m not really one to take offence easily; I write about things, and publish it on the internet. The comments sections of publications and my Twitter feed has made me somewhat immune to a smorgasbord of nastiness and stupidity. For somebody who leads a marvellously mundane existence, this is an essential defence mechanism, otherwise I probably would be one of those people who complain that Gordon Ramsey dared to show his kids where their food comes from and killed a variety of different animals which he raised in his backyard on TV. But this advert really got under my skin. I am not sure what offends me more. The out-and-out sexism, or the fact that somebody got paid to do this, somebody likely referred to as a “creative”. Yet, there is not even a microorganism excrement size of creativity to be found in the advert. Punning on a woman on a screen, scantily clad, with golf terms thrown in while creep sacks follow her around like they do at a golf tournament? Ha ha ha, totes awesome, bro, you rock, man.
I admit, I’m a mardy arse with somewhat restrained sense of humour. Thus, I watched the advert several times to ensure I did not need to “lighten up”. I floated it around friends to make sure I wasn’t missing the “hook” and the consensus was pretty clear: This is vile.
Do the makers of this ad really think golf is so dull that we should time-warp to an era where women are expected to be subservient and curtsey when they meet a dashing young gentleman to promote it? How did this even get on air? How, in a country where women are raped, beaten and murdered by their intimate partners did somebody think taking a woman and literally turning her into an object was a good thing to do?
I jest about the middle-aged plunge as a result of complaining, of course. ASA and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission actually play a vital part in ensuring that those who try to sell us things take some responsibility. I do not expect much to happen from my complaint – the tournament is over and that disgusting advert will be banished to the depths of the internet – but it would be good if those who decided to make this bro-dude piece of garbage at least realise that this was stupid and, hopefully, be a bit more considerate in future.
ASA say they have forwarded my complaint to the advertiser and we now await their response. To date, the process has been remarkably effective. I don’t consider myself to be a social justice warrior, but abuse of women is something that affects me. The aim of complaining about adverts that are overtly sexist is not to sit around wagging a finger and hate men. It is about working towards a society where attitudes towards woman are not so deranged that they have to fear walking around alone at night or feel shame when they wear a short skirt and are ogled and harassed as a result.
Some argue that there is no direct link between objectification of women and sexual violence. But that’s not true. A UK-government commissioned “Sexualisation of Young People review” found clear evidence that there is a link between consumption of sexualised images, a tendency to view women as objects and the acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behaviours as the norm, as reported by The Guardian.
In the United States, the American Psychological Association found links between objectifying women in media and higher levels of acceptance of victim-blaming and sexual harassment. Women – and harassing and objectifying them – is not a punch line like this advert made it out to be. Going a step further into pseudo-intellectualising what is wrong with the advert, there is also the issue of sexism for women in sport. Women who are involved in sport – playing or reporting on it – are often called a variety of delightful terms of endearment if somebody disagrees with them. On these pages, I have been told that I am not qualified to write on sport because “I didn’t play”. Obviously my illustrious three-balls-over-the-wall-of-the-reclusive neighbours with a big dog innings I played when I was six, counts for nothing around these parts. Women who play usually male-dominated sports are told that they are obviously lesbians, and should rather get back into the kitchen. The disproportionate coverage and pay female athletes received have been well-documented and this advert only adds to the challenges women in sport face.
The advert makes little contextual sense, either. More concerning is that there seems to have been very little comment about this advert from the usual corners of the Internet Outrage Police. Perhaps this underscores just how normalised sexualisation of women has become. Better step aside, ladies. Sport is for the lads; women, you just sit there and look pretty while we ogle you. He he he he. DM