Most of us are familiar with the above advertisement for Dolce & Gabbana. Whether that is because we have seen the ad for ourselves or because we’ve talked it to death in an NYU classroom, the picture undoubtedly has engrained itself in our minds. It certainly stuck with me, and not just because it has been brought up in most advertising and gender classes that I have taken. Of course the image of a scene that is pretty clearly depicting a gang rape is not going to leave one’s mind easily. It is especially difficult to accept this because it is an advertisement for a clothing company that appears to be exploiting the gender inequality present in our society simply to sell more of their product. What really stuck with me throughout the time that I’ve participated in discussions about this ad was that a couple other images that were part of the campaign are hardly brought into the discussion:
The above image clearly displays women in a dominating position over men, and the image below depicts men dominating over other men:
When presented with the first ad, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that Dolce & Gabbana uses sexist advertising for their clothes. However, when put together with the other images, we are able to see it as an entire campaign that was created with an S&M theme in general, which, although taboo to some, can hardly be considered sexism. I think it is important, especially for print ads, to be viewed as whole campaigns if they belong to one rather than just as separate entities. One of the first goals of advertising is to stick in the consumer’s mind, and Dolce & Gabbana’s ads did just that.