Jean Kilbourne's Article Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt: Advertising And Violence

The experience of being a journalist and educator and seeing the absurd arguments that that advertisements often insulting a woman’s intelligence and self-esteem, inspired author Jean Kilbourne to create her article “Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt: Advertising and Violence”. While written directly to an audience of women who are getting abused or haven’t but could, Kilbourne also puts advertisers on notice. Kilbourne’s primary purpose is to bring awareness about the potential meaning and effects of “pornographic” advertising onto the audience that it is intended for.

Kilbourne relies primarily on graphic images and research, to create creditability as a writer. Kilbourne relies heavily on obsene language and images in order to create a phycological and moral argument against the impact of advertisements on men and woman alike.

Popular culture ridicules men and calls them “Pussy- Whipped” when not in control of their woman. Woman are supposed to “look for a man who can totally floor me” Here Kilbourne employs the use of derogative language such as “Pussy-whipped” and “floor” to evoke the readers cultural knowledge of the terms to make the reader feel disgust about the term that is meant to degrade men who disparage fidelity and commitment and the woman who allow this to happen.

In this essay Kilbourne points out how, in many of the ads, people see every day are pornographic, and “The main goal of pornography is to show power over one another”. The ads are often encouraging male violence and for men to be forceful and dominant, the advertisers make it seem that the value of sexual intimacy is more than emotional intimacy.

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Also, advertising encourages young boys to want to mimic men that are shown in the ad’s, and makes women believe that they should be attracted to the men who are in control and are forceful towards them.

Many advertisements are misleading and show that if a person is willing to have sexual intimacy one will get great things from it. For example in Kilbourne’s article she uses a cigarette boat ad to show that women are rewarded for ones sexuality by the man’s wealth. The ad has a women lying in a man’s arms obviously after sex saying “ Does this mean I get a ride in your Cigarette?”. This type of advertising is considered pornography because it uses poses and postures that you would see in something pornographic. Advertising like this is insulting to women’s intelligence and self-esteem because if they don’t look or act like the models in the advertisements then they won’t get the things shown. She creates an emotional appeal by giving examples from around the world. For example, as the case of a male Canadian judge who accused a three-year-old girl of being sexually aggressive and suspended the case of her molester, the molester was allowed to go back to his old job of babysitting .

Kilbourne uses many cases like this to get peoples emotions going, so they care more about what is going on in different types of advertisements that they don’t see at first. and sweat dripping down their muscles. To a boy it is known from a young age that in order to be sexually appealing to women you need to have a six-pack and wear Calvin Klein. Does this approach not also teach a self-hatred for young males? Guy or Girl if we are equal in all aspects then we are both victims in advertising and we can both be affected just the same. Kilbourne makes the claim women are taught to be submissive, and men are taught to be aggressive. The author goes on supporting her claim with ethos including statistics showing that men are not only responding to these ads with a degrading view of women, they are responding with violence upon women. Kilbourne makes claims that women are sexually abused in response to these ads as well as sexually assaulted and uses statistics of violence in general to support her claim.

Kilbourne refers to a case in which a man, William Kennedy Smith, was accused of rape yet was acquitted because the woman who accused him was wearing Victoria’s Secret panties. After the author presents this key evidence she states, “it is too frightening to face the fact that male violence against women is irrational and common place.” The main point that Kilbournee is talking about in her article is that society needs to be more careful with how they are advertising because not only is it degrading to women, but also teaches young kids that it is ok to pose provocative and to use sexual activity to get what you want. When children see it in ads they are going to assume that it is all right to do. Kilbournee has been criticized for digging to deep into advertisement but all her facts show that we should start working on making advertising less pornographic.

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Jean Kilbourne's Article Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt: Advertising And Violence. (2022, Jul 16). Retrieved from

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