Editorial: Resisting misogyny in ads

·3 min read

Women fall into the cracks of online selling, where sex is the best bait for consumerism and voyeurism.

On the social networking website Facebook, Marketplace brings together buyers and sellers. During the pandemic that limits face-to-face interactions, Marketplace reflects the boost of activities engaging entrepreneurs and consumers.

Lack of self-regulation and Facebook action protecting the public turn Marketplace into an arena for predators and their victims.

On social media, cyber criminals are not only stealing personal information and hawking shoddy merchandise. Some sellers use images of simulated sex and fetishes to promote “performance-enhancing” products.

These images invariably use a female model whose face and body are used as marketing lures. The violence not only victimizes the women posing for these ads but also unwary Facebook users scrolling Marketplace for household supplies or cosmetics and finding instead an image of a couple whose actions or expressions suggest intercourse.

Considering that Facebook is accessible to all audiences, even minors, one would expect the administrators of the site to regulate and sanction sellers objectifying women. Yet, both self-regulation and Facebook regulation are glaring gaps in Marketplace.

A Facebook notice exhorting for responsible buying and selling only mentions four areas: local health guidelines, delivery options, mobile payments service, and disinfection of merchandise.

Another Facebook notice displayed prominently under every commodity warns shoppers to be wary of scams that ferret out sensitive personal information, such as confirmation codes or verification details.

Isn’t the dignity and welfare of women and their protection from sexist objectification and misogynistic stigma as equally important as their personal identity and financial privacy?

Widespread misogyny on the digital portal does not just reveal lapses in government regulation but also society’s blindness and apathy to this violation due to the acceptance and normalization of misogyny as admiration for women or women as creatures of beauty and desire.

Reducing women into objects representing sex and commerce is dehumanizing and negating their complexities as human beings. This is a manifestation of toxic popular culture that justifies deviating the “love of women” into the domination and exploitation of women as child, spouse, mother, worker, creative, partner, and stakeholder in society.

This is hammered on by November 25 as the “National Consciousness Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Children” under Republic Act (RA) No. 10398.

Proclamation 1172 declares November 25 to December 12 as the “18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW)”.

While the government and civil society organizations have made significant contributions in rescuing and aiding women to recover from victimization, the campaign to create a world safe for girls and women should continue.

Misogyny, or the ingrained bias against women and their potentials, lurks in the interstices of contemporary culture. The split in popular culture manifests in our acceptance of a woman running for the highest public post in the land and the representations of women as tools for the gratification of men, from the menial to the intimate.

If Facebook overlooks the sexist and misogynist ads in Marketplace, the issue must get the attention of the Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and Their Children (IAC-VAWC), which involves 12 government agencies.

RA 9262, also known as the “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004,” mandates government implementors to promote the welfare of women and children surviving acts of violence, as well as prevent the commission of these acts, which are rooted in the stigma of discrimination against the personhood of women and children.

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