Message to the Guys: Donating Your Organs is Almost Like Sex

This ad promoting organ donation appeared in a Belgian men’s magazine.

The message at the bottom reads: Becoming a donor is probably your only chance to get inside her.

Nice way to objectify women to get across your “altruistic” message, suggest that women are only good for “getting inside of,” imply that women who don’t fit the above ideal of (poorly photoshopped) beauty aren’t quite as deserving of life, and portray men as so shallow that this is the only way to get them to do a good thing, all at the same time. It’s really quite impressive.

And yet, while I really do want to be pissed at this level of objectification, condescension and sexism, and on some level I am, I’m ultimately just incredibly bemused. I mean, who the hell thought this was a good idea?

Also, let’s just consider the menz for a minute, can we? Think about it. You’re some poor guy who donates your organs for the purpose of showing the world how very macho and heterosexual you are, and then you die and your organs go to — oh noes — another man! That would, like, make you totally gay, dude!

Or, um . . . something. I don’t know, I find homophobia almost as confusing as heterosexuality so insecure and compulsory that it requires comparing organ donation with a sex act.

cross-posted at The Curvature

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35 comments for “Message to the Guys: Donating Your Organs is Almost Like Sex

  1. November 14, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Lyrics from a silly MC Frontalot song in which he insists upon donating a lung to a fan:

    “Now you’re freaking out, and that’s okay.
    Having that much of another man inside you isn’t going to make you gay.
    (Or so what if it does? I mean, you need the lung.)”

  2. desipis
    November 14, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    I mean, who the hell thought this was a good idea?

    Probably the marketing professional who realised such an ad would increase donor rates amongst its target audience and ultimately save more lives than a less controversial one.

  3. November 14, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Desipis, if you honestly think that men are going to view this ad and sign up to donate organs in larger numbers than if they had viewed a non-offensive but still eye-popping ad, you think a hell of a lot less highly of men than I do. I personally think that men are generally intelligent creatures not ruled by their penises. But you keep going with the PeTA “we’re too lazy to come up with more interesting and less offensive tactics, and anyway the ends justify the means” mentality.

  4. November 14, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Yeah, it’s not so much offensive as it is kind of gross.

    I mean, what’s more arousing than dying and getting your torso cut open, then having your kidneys removed and put in another person? Right? Right?

  5. November 14, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    That logo on the bottom is pretty phallic as well . . . .

  6. Katlyn
    November 14, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Why would anyone sexualize organ donation?

    and desipis, I highly doubt it’s going to work.
    This ad might give some guys a hard on, but it’s not going to make them sign up for organ donation.
    Do you really think men are that stupid to think donating their organs is just like getting laid?

  7. November 14, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    This happened to me the other day!

    Me, to random dude: “Your liver is SO hot.”

    Random dude: “Really?? Here, TAKE IT and PUT IT IN YOU.”

    Doesn’t it bother men that they’re treated like lobotomized zombies by marketers? I think it would bother me.

  8. November 14, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Ginger, that totally made me LOL.

    And I have these conversations with my husband all the time. I think it bothers the smart and/or observant guys at least.

  9. Peter
    November 14, 2008 at 10:28 pm


    The girl in that photo looks like should could be 16 years old, and she’s obviously anorexic.

    Are the appealing to pedophiles?

  10. Kate
    November 14, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    I agree that this ad is offensive to men and women. Obviously the over-sexualization of this teenager girl is horrifying but I agree with what Ginger said – aren’t men offended that they are treated like stupid pigs who would actually listen to an ad like this? Having watched the movie “Killing Us Softly 3” (highly recommended!) on the medias depiction of women over the last 30 and how advertisements show a pattern of disturbing and destructive gender stereotypes – I can see how this ad fits exactly into those same ideas of women being submissive, objectified, and overly sexualized at a young age. I wish more people stood up and said something about ads like this so they didn’t exist anymore!

  11. Maria
    November 15, 2008 at 12:54 am

    So it’s obviously offensive and awful, but on a whole other level, I’m just confused.

    Donate your organs to get inside her? Which is like sex, how? Plus you’ll be dead, so does it matter? Do you get post-life nookie through organ donation, I mean, what the hell?

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  13. November 15, 2008 at 10:28 am

    I personally think that men are generally intelligent creatures not ruled by their penises.

    The two aren’t mutually exclusive. For example you are a generally intelligent creature, but when you are hungry you are ruled by your desire to eat.

    But anyways speaking as a transgendered woman who has had various amounts of female and male hormones coursing through her I can conclusively say that yes hormones can heavily influence judgment even when its just a picture on a box.

    It may be a useful way of simplifying the world for economics to consider everyone as rational actors all the time, but the financial crisis going on right now shows the dangers of such assumptions.

  14. Nate
    November 15, 2008 at 10:33 am

    I think you are all seriously overthinking this.

    It was meant as a joke. I’m sure no one wanted to sexualize organ donation.

    Now, I agree that a huge number of ads are very harmfull to women, but there are much worse ads out there for much, much worse causes.

  15. Peter
    November 15, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Y’all are right. This ad is so stupid on many different levels.

    First, the girl looks like she’s in her late teens, quite possibly high school age. Using a high school aged girl as a sexual prop is pretty creepy.

    Also, as others have mentioned, what is the tangible connection between kidneys and sexual intercourse? That’s just freaking stupid. And the implication that people, in this case men, have to be teased with teenage girl flesh, to be coaxed into making a charitable contribution for a worthy medical cause? What moron thought that was an appropriate idea?

  16. November 15, 2008 at 11:05 am

    It was meant as a joke. I’m sure no one wanted to sexualize organ donation.

    Now, I agree that a huge number of ads are very harmfull to women, but there are much worse ads out there for much, much worse causes.

    Well if it’s supposed to be funny, then it can’t possibly be offensive! My bad. And in the future, I will not write about any story, piece of advertising, etc., unless I can point to no more than three things out there that will meet each and every person’s subjective criteria for being “worse.” Next . . .

  17. November 15, 2008 at 1:10 pm


    So….donating a kidney to a family member is incest, hmm?

  18. November 15, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Donate your organs to get inside her? Which is like sex, how?

    The picture, and its implications about the target audience, are offensive.

    The slogan, however, is just wordplay.

  19. November 15, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Sorry, let me clarify my meaning there.

    The slogan, is just wordplay – offensive wordplay, perhaps, but not seriously intending to suggest that organ donation is similar to sex, except in a punnable way.

  20. exholt
    November 15, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Offensive, patronizing, and a good way to convert most to lifelong celibacy…….

  21. Rebecca_J
    November 15, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    I find this ad creepy, in the sense that what if there was actually a guy out there who donated his organs for the express purpose of getting off on the idea of his “organs” possibly someday being inside a female. Like REEEEAL deep inside. If that was the case I might be tempted to say um you can keep your organs kthxbai.

  22. November 15, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    I’m an organ donor, so where’s my boderline-anorexic, overly sexualized, barely pubescent male model? /snark/ Pffft!!!

    Does anyone in the marketing/advertising industry have an intelligent imagination?!

  23. imnotgivingmynametoamachine
    November 15, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    I do get tired of the assumption that I (as a hetero male) must be so thoroughly stupid and selfish that the only way I can be convinced to support a decent cause is by showing me pictures of scantily-clad women, and insinuating that I might be able to have sex with them. That said, I’m kinda impressed at how creepy this one is: I mean, I get that it’s a joke, but the “part of you inside her” basis for the organ-donation-is-like-sex analogy just gets more disturbing the longer I think about it. Mainly because the sense in which “inside” is meant in the organ donation context is spectacularly different to what is meant in the sex context… and so when I inevitably try to reverse the analogy and get the sex-is-like-organ-donation version, I feel just a little bit ill.

    I really wish I’d never seen this ad.

  24. November 16, 2008 at 12:24 am

    she’s obviously anorexic.

    And you know this how? Anorexia is a psychological disorder with many symptoms that you can’t see. So, no, that’s not obvious.

  25. Kelsey Jarboe
    November 16, 2008 at 12:58 am

    I’m with Red Glasses– can we stop throwing the A word around?

  26. Kate
    November 16, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Auguste – I don’t think that its ok to use wordplay in ad slogan that insults half of the population. While I fully understand that it is not meant to actually suggest that organ donation is similar to sex, why use a campaign that is going to degrade and offend so many people? Why not be honest about the benefits of organ donation and show it as an easy way to save lives, not joke about cutting a young girl open and putting your organs inside her? I think people respond to honesty and facts, such as how many lives it can save, rather then vulgar ad campaigns that are basically meant to make people laugh.

  27. Brezo
    November 16, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    As Kate said, for something especially as serious and needful as organ donation, people will respond to a tasteful message with actual facts. This ad, yes, meant to be a joke, only succeeds in just that – promoting a sick joke. What is the use in even making an ad that promotes that? They’re not even selling anything. Instead of gaining the awareness of MANY prospective donors (if gaining ANY donors at all was what this ad set to do, not quite sure its a little hard to tell..psht) this ad is aimed at only the stereotypical horny man (and occasional pedophile) Apparantly female donors and family members need not apply.
    Ad: FAIL. Disgusted.

  28. November 16, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Definitely Brezo — and you know, the guy from the company who made the ad said it was necessary because there’s a problem in Belgium where most people think they’re automatically signed up to be an organ donor, but they’re not. This ad does nothing to contradict that perception at all. It doesn’t say anything explicit about how if you haven’t signed up, you need to in order to be considered a donor. There aren’t any facts or information whatsoever.

  29. Frumious B
    November 16, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    @Peter November 14th, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    she’s obviously anorexic.

    Dr. Peter can diagnose a person from a photograph alone.

  30. jz
    November 16, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Fortunately, the efficacy of this ad campaign is measurable. I look forward to a followup here when results are available.

  31. Feather
    November 18, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Imagining her in need of an organ transplant. Uh, sexy.

  32. Lila
    November 22, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    The underlying problem with this ad is that it creates a link between organ donation and sex, even for those who find the ad itself ridiculous. People’s responses to later encounters with the idea of organs going to less conventionally attractive women (can you imagine if that model were the least bit overweight??) or to men are going to clash with this construct, possibly causing significant problems.

  33. Valerie
    March 29, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Not only is it “man/sex machine” crap, but did they think about the potential backlash? “NO, that shank isn’t getting my organs because if she won’t put out while I’m alive, why should I care what happens if am dead?”

    I am not saying that all men would think like that, but those that validate their manhood through sex do get pissed off when they are denied in a very public way.
    It’s an ego crusher for them, and organ donation is too important to just slap stick comedy your way through it. Lame.

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