Offender: Clothing Designer Calvin Klein
Media Outlet: Appearing in April 2010 In Style magazine and other outlets
The Offense: Calvin Klein presents a woman lying on the ground with a man pushing up her skirt. Is she in the throes of passion or being assaulted?
NOW’s Analysis: On its website, Calvin Klein touts its advertising campaigns as “ground-breaking” — but they’re really the same old shtick again and again. Fashion designers love to show women splayed out on the ground, possibly unconscious, possibly being violated, maybe even dead. Why this helps to promote their clothes is a mystery, other than the obvious attention that being provocative brings.
The association of sexiness, glamour, expensive clothes and violence has so permeated our culture that it hardly seems shocking anymore. But it should be. Note all the subtle and not so subtle cues in the photo. The woman has dirt on her — she’s desirable but dirty. Her eyes are closed and she appears immobile — she’s basically an object, not a live person. What’s that shiny substance on her thigh supposed to make us think about?
Designers like Calvin Klein and the advertising agencies and photographers that create these scenes are sending a very dangerous message about how women should be viewed. The concept that women are or should be in a perpetual state of sexual submission, and that it’s the manly right or imperative to exploit such a state, are being sold every day by the fashion industry. When will it stop?
Take Action: Tell Calvin Klein what you think about glamorizing violence against women.
Lisa Bennett, NOW Communications Director