Women Are Not Objects, It's Time The Ad World Got The Memo

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 

#WomenNotObjects calls out sexism in advertising

Madonna Badger, an advertising executive in New York, did a simple internet search one day that turned into a crusade to change the way ad companies portray women. Her own company, Badger & Winters, has vowed to never create imagery that objectifies women. How many other ad agencies can say the same?

The search she performed? “Objectification of women.” The results? Nauseating.

Now I’m not sure what exact images came up when she performed her search, but I just performed my own and the results made me want to set my computer on fire.

Badger and her business partner Jim Winters decided to create a video featuring women holding copies of ads and demanding a change. They posted the video anonymously on January 11.

I am your mother.

I am your daughter.

I am you sister.

I am your manager.

I am your CEO.

Don’t talk to me that way.


Yes, we need to demand more from the companies constantly selling us shit. This collective, massive, suffocating barrage of images we’re allowing to inundate our lives is unforgivable. We’re brainwashing our kids from the get-go — and we can stop it. There’s still hope to teach the next generation not to put up with this crap. Misogynist advertising can lead to violence, sexual harassment and the mistreatment of women, as evidenced by forty years of research by Jean Kilbourne.

Women still make about 75 percent of all purchasing decisions and only 11 percent of advertising creatives are women, notes Badger in WWD. We have the money. We spend the money. Our voices mean something and they need to be heard.

Tragically, Badger lost her three daughters and parents in a 2011 fire. “I’ve been looking for my purpose. It’s certainly bigger than making money,” she says. “There is great dignity in our work. I’m proud of it, and this company which I built and now Jim and I have been building for almost a decade. I’m proud of the differences I’ve made in a lot of people’s lives, for sure. But I wanted to find something that was bigger than me, bigger than the fire and that could be a true service to people that could have lasting effect.”

Small efforts can make a lasting difference. At 2014’s Oscars, The Representation Project started #AskHerMore in response to the fact that women are only asked about their appearance on the red carpet. The hashtag ended up shaping the questions interviewers asked women for the years since. #WomenNotObjects aims to bring attention to the objectification of women in advertising. It’s time we call out these brands and let them know we expect more.

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