Let me start with the unexceptional observation that since the dawn of big time advertising young women have been the most common and presumably effective prop employed to sell products of all descriptions.  Naturally, the women have to be attractive, which they are, almost without exception, and they must also be clothed in ways that reveal, or strongly suggest prominent physical attributes.

But beyond that, and most striking, is the way that women once exposed (especially in print ads), are then obliged to assume positions that relate not to everyday activities and standard postures, but to sexual encounters.  Gather together a group of ads featuring women and before you is a comprehensive manual of sexual positioning.  See women, lips puckered, necklines plunging, breasts scarcely concealed, reclining in all manner of ways:  A picture of easy receptivity to men’s advances.  Note how often they’re bent over in exaggerated fashion, or placed on their knees or have their legs angling off in directions most unnatural.  Observe the prominence usually given to the posterior region.  The suggestions of sexual escapades are unmistakable.

The goal here is for the male consumer, at least, to make love to the product as those very suggestive ads recommend.  Significantly, most ads spare men from the manipulations just described, since they’re usually presented in conventional postures offering few hints of imminent sexual coupling.  So are we to conclude that sexual signaling is essential in order to lure the male customers, whereas appeals to women can be far more subtle and sophisticated?  What’s your position on this?

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