Spotted today on the side of a bus: the following La Senza beachwear ad.
The scene: two women on a beach, one lying propped up on an elbow facing camera in a snazzy bikini, the other in a much plainer black swimsuit with her back to camera. First woman is saying to second woman “At least you don’t have guys bothering you all the time.”
Selling your product on the basis that it will make the customer irresistibly attractive to the opposite sex* is common enough. Generally such ads are somewhere between tiresome and faintly offensive, but it’s ground that’s been gone over so many times it’s hard to muster any fresh ire beyond an eye-roll and another addition to the list of companies you won’t buy from.
This though? Is enough out of the ordinary that it made me look at it twice. It’s not entirely clear who’s speaking in the advert: woman #1, woman #2 or some sort of narrator? But the only way I can get it to make any sense at all is the version given above, and it still doesn’t make very much, and it’s not a kind of sense I want it to make.
It’s not saying “Buy our lingerie and men will be attracted to you”, it’s saying “Buy our lingerie and men will sexually harass you at the beach.” ‘Bother’ is not a neutral word. It’s not implying positively received attention or even neutral if uninvited attention; it’s a negative word.
Obviously plenty of people do still insist that wearing lingerie basically anything in public constitutes consent to sexual harassment. (And they can go fuck themselves.) But it’s extremely unusual, and rather worrying, to see this ‘connection’ being repeated by an advert itself.
*And it is always and only the opposite sex, presumably because marketers are pandering to the idea that all straight people are homophobes who will react with terror and fury to same-sex overtures. I guess a lot of us are, sadly. Even the adverts which show the attractive power of the product working to ridiculous extremes (e.g. that Lynx advert with the chocolate dude) never seem to have anyone of the same sex caught up in the tide.