Swiffer’s appropriation of a feminist icon and their quick backtrack is the latest reminder of how sexism is still alive and well in advertising. Famously prevalent in car commercials and video game marketing, sexist advertising takes a character of its own in the gun industry’s marketing, feeding off exploitative images of women and starkly violent visions of masculinity.
1. EAA Corp’s serial sexist ads
The European American Armory (EAA) Corporation’s advertising frequently uses exploitative imagery of scantily-clad women to promote its guns, using sexualized female bodies to both draw attention and generalizing the idea that gun ownership and usage is sexy.
2. Glock’s “Wrong Girl” Ad
This four-minute ad follows a young woman as she returns to her home, where she is alone (and scantily-clad, of course). As her door rattles, she is left looking vulnerable and scared – until she picks up her gun and disposes of the grisly predator with sheer force of fear. Glock’s message promotes the age-old argument that guns stop rape, painting women as helpless victims until they have firearms at their side. Smaller outfits than Glock have used the same concept in their advertising.
3. “Which would protect her health best?”
Beyond being another example of the guns-stop-rape meme, this ad implores parents to make sure their daughters are armed. A cell phone and a pink-wrapped condom sit beside the gun, pitting contraception as weak. It also perpetuates the idea that all rape is committed by masked strangers in alleyways, ignoring the prevalence of acquaintance rape.
4. Open Range Sports targets bachelor parties
In another example of exploitative imagery, Open Range Sports uses a pregnant woman dressed in lingerie in a bridal veil to remind men that they should get their shooting out of the way before their weddings. This bizarre ad is part of a larger “Shotgun Wedding” campaign advertising bachelor and bachelorette parties hosted at gun ranges.
5. POF-USA tell us assault rifles are sexy
The Patriot Ordinance Factory’s ad uses the iconically sexist mudflap girl silhouette, with the company’s flagship assault rifle emerging from her breasts. The imagery crudely sexualizes assault weapons, perpetuating the concept of a violent, bigoted masculinity.
6. Bushmaster wants to reissue your “man card”
Sexism in gun ads doesn’t just emerge from misappropriating sexual violence or using exploitative imagery of women. Bushmaster’s extensive “man card” campaign is an example of how gun advertising casually taps into a conception of violent masculinity. The campaign, which used to have an entire section of the Bushmaster website devoted to it, allows you to test your manliness and revoke others’ man cards. It tops off with a poster of an assault rifle, the possession of which allows you to “consider your man card reissued.”
7. Daisy Rifles will help with your son’s manliness
This Daisy Air Rifles ad is targeted primarily at mothers, and promises that “millions of clean-cut, alert American boys” grew up on their product, developing “character and manliness.” By attaching a concept of gun ownership to “manliness” and hammering home the idea that boys develop “strength” through shooting, ads like this one perpetuate the social norm that guns and violence are integral to masculinity.
Kumar Ramanathan is an Intern with ThinkProgress