Naïveté and Submission

A French anti-smoking ad compares smoking to oral sex, with the slogan “To smoke is to be a slave to tobacco.” The New York Times describes the visuals of the ads thusly:

The slogan is bland enough: “To smoke is to be a slave to tobacco.” But it accompanies photos of an older man, his torso seen from the side, pushing down on the head of a teenaged girl with a cigarette in her mouth. Her eyes are at belt level, glancing upwards fearfully. The cigarette appears to emerge from the dress trousers of the adult.

The image is here if you want to take a look. And it’s… ick.

The vice-president of the advertising firm that created the ad says it intends to portray smoking as “an act of naïveté and submission.” Which is apparently what oral sex is? Complicating the issue is that the teenager with the cigarette in his/her mouth looks scared; the person with the cigarette in their pants has a hand on the teenager’s head, and the whole situation looks more like abuse than sex (or naivete or submission, for that matter).

I’m with the French feminist who commented that “what is most shocking [about this ad] is the banalization of sexual violence,” and that “It’s a poverty of imagination. When people have no ideas they use female bodies.”


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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2 Responses to Naïveté and Submission

  1. Canadian Nurse says:

    You do know that there are two ads in this campaign using boys and one ad using a girl, right?

    Here’s all three pics.

  2. Carpenter says:

    I don’t think it matters that the boys are also being forced to give head, it is the fact that the dominant in all the photos is male that is relevant. This is the same old crap, the penis being the thing that penetrates is equivalent to power, something women don’t have. When men are forced to suck a dick, they become submissive like a woman.

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