Objectification of women’s bodies or the “male gaze”

Once again an advertising completly objectifies women’s bodies by objectifying the model’s body: the last commercial for Yves Saint Laurent in France, depicts a woman bending on a chair such as she achieves a very sexual position. Others show women (or girls to be honest) opening their legs.

 Résultat de recherche d'images pour "yves saint laurent pub"


These adverts were exposed in the streets of Paris the 6th of March, and a day later the ARPP (Authority for the Professional Regulation of Advertising) asked YSL to withdraw those adverts from the streets. The 28th, the Paris Council decided to prohibit sexist or discriminatory adverts (but sadly this is just in the capital, and not on a national level).

One of the essays I had to write for uni was about objectification of women’s bodies, and I came across a very interesting thought Kant had in Lectures on Ethics:

“(…) as soon as a person becomes an Object of appetite for another, all motives of moral relationship cease to function, because as an Object of appetite for another, a person becomes a thing and can be treated and used as such by every one.”

And this is exactly what’s happening on these adverts: the danger they represent is huge and an immense company like YSL should know it and take it seriously. The women/girls depicted in the pictures are objectified: it implies that they are used and seen as objects to satisfy some kind of envy or desire. This is completely degrading and dehumanizing.

To go further, Andrea Dworkin and Catherine McKinnon (they’re both feminists anti-pornography), argued that objectification consists in a differential power between the one being objectified  and the objectifier; the one being objectified is a victim and the objectifier is its oppressor. I believe this could be applied for these kinds of adverts as well, but it’s difficult to argue who is the oppressor: the photograph? the whole YSL company? the public? all of those cited before?

Anyway, I believe that this kind of objectivation is one of the many things that lead to gender stereotypes and roles, as well as inequalities between men and women.



Renard, N. (2013) L’objectivation sexuelle des femmes: Un puissant outil du patriarcat – introduction. Available at: https://antisexisme.net/2013/08/13/objectivation-1-2/ (Accessed: 29 October 2016).

Papadaki, E.(l. (2007) ‘Sexual objectification: From Kant to contemporary feminism’, Contemporary Political Theory, 6(3), pp. 330–348. doi: 10.1057/palgrave.cpt.9300282.


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