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Advertising Has a Headless Woman Problem

Care2, April 19, 2018

By Lauren Longo

Asian woman thoughtfully stares at laptop computer screen.Whether you’re watching an obviously sexist male-oriented comedy or a supposedly feminist film featuring a powerful female heroine, there’s a good chance the movie poster features a woman’s body, but not her face. Marcia Belsky created the Headless Women of Hollywood Project to document how extensive the pictorial beheading of women really is. Belsky’s awareness campaign is just one example that demonstrates the prevalence of objectification and sexualization of women in the media. As the author of this article points out, these on-screen images have real-life impacts. Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., senior scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women, argues in her film series Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women that the objectification and sexualization of women in the media directly contribute to violence against women, because these images encourage us to view women as less-than-human, the first step toward normalizing violence.

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