Bell’s new advertisement has made it to my home today. As Nathan, my sweetheart, stepped inside the door, he handed me Bell’s brochure which arrived in our mail today. His comment is that he HAD to show this to me because well… After looking at it, I realized why.
The advertisement is a typical Bell fold-over brochure. This one is promoting its internet service. On the cover is a picture of a textbook (likely a basic anatomy textbook) depicting “The Female Body”. The female’s breasts and genitalia are cut out of the page of the textbook. To the right side reads, “You’ll do anything to protect your kids from inappropriate content. So will we.”
Upon seeing this, the first thought in my mind is “What the hell?” Apparently, the female body is “inappropriate content” for our children. So much for the new age of enlightenment. Seeing this ad, I feel like I have been thrown into the dark ages.
There are two important issues that come to mind when I see this ad. First, education about sex (even just the anatomical parts) is a bad thing. It is inappropriate for our children to learn about sex. Second, the female body is a bad thing. It is inappropriate and shameful to see.
Let’s address the first issue.
Sex education was always a hot topic when I was in high school. There will always be those who think that teaching kids about sex would encourage them to have it. No, no, and NO. Nice theory, but in reality, children are curious and they will do anything to satisfy their curiosity. Children at a young age already KNOW about sex. Maybe they aren’t fully capable of communicating what they know, but certainly they KNOW. Children learn things on a subconscious level and I’m afraid sex is one thing they learn about – right from birth. Think about it. A child is born out of its mother. It spends 9 months in its mother’s womb, then during labour it makes its passage into the world through its mother’s vaginal passage. A women’s genitalia is inherently connected to a child’s existence through birth. So how can we assume that a child knows nothing about sex? If anything, a child knows alot more about the topic than some who have repressed knowledge about sex or just ignored the topic completely.
Getting back to the topic of children having sex. I’ve explained that children already know about it, so that means eventually one day they are going to want to try it. Plain and simple. That’s just the way of life. So why try to shield the child from the topic? It just doesn’t make sense. It’s not logical. Here’s an analogy from a once popular TV show, Beverly Hills 90210 (Yes, they had some wisdom on that show! Amazing, isn’t it?!). You have a large pool in your backyard. (You know, one of those nice big pools all the rich Beverly Hills folks have). You tell your 5-year-old not to go into the pool for fear of drowning. Then you erect walls and boundaries so that the child cannot get into the pool. Eventually though, the child will get through all those boundaries and dive into the pool and possibly drown. Wouldn’t it have just been easier to teach the child to swim? So too, children will eventually have sex. Statistically, about two-thirds or more of teenagers have had sex by age 18. (Source: http://www.soundvision.com/Info/teens/stat.asp). Wouldn’t it be better to teach the child about sex before it’s too late and the child contracts an illness or becomes a parent before s/he is ready? If you’re a parent reading this, wouldn’t it be better if you taught your child about sex? Wouldn’t you sleep better at night knowing your child got the information you wanted your child to receive about the topic of sex? Or would you REALLY rather your child learned about sex from John/Jane Doe on the street (and you won’t even know about it)? The bottom line is children will start to have sex (usually between the ages of 15 and 18). It’s been that way for ages. Heck, at one time, not too long ago, 13-year-old daughters were married off and would have children within the year. (I know this for a fact, my aunt was 13 when she got married.)
Sex education does not encourage kids to have sex. Kids will have sex without any encouragement.
The second issue with the Bell ad is one I consider to be a more important issue. The message that is relayed to me is, “The female body is inappropriate content.” The issue of kids aside (I’ve already gone over how children already know about sex. By that same token, kids know about the female body, even if subconsciously. So why hide the female body from children? It nurtured the child for 9 months, for goddess’ sake!), the message relayed taps directly into women’s issues about their bodies and further promotes a negative image of women. “Women’s bodies are bad. It is shameful to be a woman. A woman’s body should be covered up. Children need to be protected from the shame that is women.” As a women, I’ve learned over the years to appreciate my body. As a pagan, I’ve learned that the body is each person’s temple and it should be treated as such. Not many women are as lucky. Some women struggle with these issues still. Some cultures still treat women as the personification of evil. Some cultures still force women to cover their bodies because it is shameful to expose them. It has been a long road for women to gain equal rights as men. For some, that time still has to arrive. The Bell ad perpetuates the idea that women are shameful and evil. It perpetuates an idea that I thought would never be seen again in this society (North America). I guess I was wrong.
As a pagan and as a woman, I strive for acceptance of who I am. I strive for basic tolerance and acceptance of who people are. I am tempted at this point to blame Christian thinking or Muslim thinking for extreme interpretations of “God’s word” that women are evil and shameful, but not all Christians or all Muslims think the same way. Not all are ignorant. So, I guess I can blame ignorance as well as the people who decided that printing this ad was a brilliant idea (i.e., ad executives and agency people, the CEO of Bell).
The Breast Blog has already taken action to have Bell Canada remove their ad campaign. (http://thebreastsite.com/blog/archive/2005/02/10/214.aspx) (Apparently, there is a commercial as well, but the message when acted out supposedly makes more sense than the print ad.) In conversation with a female Bell executive, the Bell executive has “no opinion” on the ad. (http://thebreastsite.com/blog/archive/2005/02/21/232.aspx) So much for female solidarity. I guess her job is more important than the bigger issues of society, even issues of women in society. (I have to comment that I have no sympathy for the female Bell executive. I studied business and have a Bachelor’s of Business Administration, but I pulled out of that working world because of situations like this. I knew it would just get worse as you moved up the corporate ladder. There is no way, if it were me, would I sit and keep my mouth shut while the company I work for prints a degrading ad. Yeah, I realize I would lose my job, but… been there, done that already! Ah, life is much better from my vantage point, but I do have a mission… read my main website for more information on that. See my links to Brigid’s Flame.) The Breast Blog needs more help in dealing with this issue because Bell Canada is not willing to pull the ad. It seems Bell Canada needs more incentive for the scales to tip. There is a phone number posted on the Breast Blog so people can call Bell Canada directly. For my part, I will post a comment on that Blog linking to my Blog entry as support for their/our cause. I will email Bell Canada too, provided I can find the right contact information (they’re probably hiding it, so they don’t have to listen to people and deal with consequences of their actions). The other thing I will have to do is get a new phone line. It has been an ongoing discussion between Nathan and I to get rid of our land line, seeing as we hardly use it. I’m afraid the recent Bell ad just tipped the scales over for me. If they want to know if their recent ad worked, well, yeah, it did. I don’t want their services anymore. They don’t deserve it. Women are their customers too and they just slammed and degraded them. I hear Sprint Canada offers a good deal and they haven’t slammed women as far as I know.
Well, Bell Canada has done it again. A remarkable achievement. This time in ignorance.
Your local webmistress
P.S. To see Adrants comments and picture of Bell ad, http://www.adrants.com/2005/02/
. To view a message board comments, http://www.ihaveanidea.org/cgi-bin/forum/