Selling with Sex- Time for Change? – Clippings Autumn 2019

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Sex is good.

Well. Sex is a good time, for both members involved. Unless if you’re part of the 0.4% of asexuals in Britain (aged 16 to 44)[1] you will probably like sex and likely think about sex 19 times a day if you’re a man, and 10 times a day if you’re a woman[2]. If you don’t conform to gender norms or are generally part of the rapidly growing number of LGBTQ+ representing minority, you’ll probably feel left out, or simply tired of the cisgender, hyper heterosexual advertising seen everywhere in advertising.

“We estimate that 4.2% of people aged 16 to 24 years identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, a higher proportion than for other older age groups. Around 7 in 10 of the lesbian, gay or bisexual population are single and have never married or registered a civil partnership. This reflects the younger age structure of this population and that legal unions for same-sex couples are relatively new. ”
Paula Guy, Population Statistics Division, Office for National Statistics.[3]

Picture from Brian Kyed on Unsplash

LGBT representation is nothing new, but it’s a matter of how they are being portrayed. Joe Parker, an ad executive at customer experience agency Biglight, explained that the portrayal of LGBT+ people still seems to be a “checkbox” for brands[4]. Adverts often show a diverse family in terms of background and ethnicity, this is good, but it’s not enough, especially when it just looks forced. Our world is much more diverse than the colour of our skin. Simply because advertising and appealing to minorities won’t get businesses as much money as marketing towards the larger population, doesn’t mean an effort shouldn’t be taken. Companies, producers, and corporate businesses that simplify the LBGT populace down to an inclusion in an advert to seem more diverse, are no better than men who objectify women.

To quote Asad Dhunna, an LGBT+ Muslim advocate, writer and a member of PrideAM, the ad industry’s LGBT+ leadership group: “Many brands have got the ‘LG’ of LGBT+ right, but I cannot think of those that go beyond that, or even brands that get the representation of the lesbian community right,”[4]

Charlotte Summers, writing for DIVA magazine- a magazine published monthly in the UK for lesbians and bisexual women, explains it perfectly:

“As a femme lesbian myself, seeing a character that mirrors me is amazing, but the problem lies within the content. A lot of these romances include a married heterosexual couple but the woman strays with a lesbian lover. They also include a lot (and I mean a lot) of sex, which often is a straight guys fantasy of what lesbian sex is.”

The large part of media portrayal of LBGT, most commonly lesbian people, is highly sexualised. Especially because of the porn industry, lesbian romances have been geared towards appealing to straight men in media for a long enough time that men will approach real lesbian women and ask for entertainment, which had led to many incidents of conflict. An incident back in May sparked national outrage, a full report you can read here.

However, Charlotte Summers is also the founder of the @reclaimyourlabel drive on instagram. With only 475 followers as of writing this article, the campaign to bring about awareness of the sexualisation of queer women on a very popular platform is critically low. If you have Instagram, please like and follow the page. Diversity is important. Representation is important, but it’s not a checklist to make big companies seem inclusive. There are real LGBT people living real lives, suffering much more than any company would have you believe, away from stereotypes and societal norms.

You can make a change.

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