When it comes to men’s advertising, a classic trope we regularly see is the use of women - more often than not, naked - as props, whilst a dominant-looking, dapper Dan gazes into the camera. Nobody bats an eyelid, and the world still turns. So what happens when the shoe is on the other foot? And by that, I mean the man is the naked submissive prop and the woman is dressed to kill with a pose to match. Naturally, the campaign becomes a controversy and it causes an uproar.
The best bit about all this is that the brand behind the campaign, Suistudio, couldn’t give a fuck if society finds their campaign uncomfortable. The brand actually purposefully chose to tackle the gender stereotypes in advertising in order to change the way that we think about ‘rigid gender roles’. The campaign, named ‘Not Dressing Men’, features female models in some incredible tailored pieces, embellished with the help of the throw-in naked man. Not Dressing Men is a great way to tackle the gender roles that are consistently perpetuated in male-targeted advertising, and it’s actually a breath of fresh air to see something that’s addressing the way that this kind of thing is becoming so normalised.
Whilst there are many who are seeing the campaign as a way to encourage the conversation around sexism and objectification, there's many turning the whole thing into one large debate, with one Instagrammer (and a female one at that) commenting: 'If it was the other way around with the woman on the couch and a man above her, feminist groups would jump and criticise. This double standard needs to end.'
What many are failing to see is that, in the fashion industry especially, countless campaigns with heavily sexist undertones have been released targeting male consumers for fashion and fragrance brands over the years. With that, many have spoken up about them and asked for change, and Suistudio - the sister brand of menswear company Suitsupply - is merely turning the concept on its head and visually challenging consumers and critics alike. After years of getting angry and/or offended by these kinds of gender stereotypes in advertising, there is - on the whole - very little to show for it in terms of progression. So whilst words aren't doing the job, why is there anything wrong with taking the phrase 'if you can't get mad, get even' literally? The campaign is obviously tongue-in-cheek, yet simultaneously empowering, regardless of what people say.
Maybe the controversial debate around how women are used in male-targeted advertising will dig that bit deeper as a result of Suistudio's latest ads.