Americans are subjected to an inordinate amount of advertising, and many people have no idea what underlying messages are laced throughout those ads.

According to Dr. David Scott, professor of speech communication at NSU, the message is often sex and the objectification of women.

Scott presented "Sexual Appeals in Advertising" as the final in a four-part series offered by First Presbyterian Church, highlighting Domestic Violence and Abuse Prevention Month.

As part of his presentation, Scott showed a popular light beer commercial involving two women.

"I'd like for you to watch this television commercial, but I understand some of you may find the material offensive and rude," said Scott.

During the commercial, two young, voluptuous women in clingy dresses are having lunch and begin an argument about the beer. One declares the beer to have great taste, while the other states the beverage's attraction as being less filling.

"Tastes great," says one woman, sternly.

"Less filling," stresses the other woman.

The argument escalates, while the women stand up, knock over the table and begin fighting. The fight escalates, and the women rip each other's clothes off, leaving them in their undergarments, all the while both proclaiming the beer to be either great-tasting or less filling.

Finally, the fight results in the women wrestling in a mud hole in their underwear. The commercial breaks to a bar full of men who pronounce the commercial couldn't get any better. One disagrees, envisioning one of the women asking the other at the end of the mud-wrestling match if she wants to make out.

"The disturbing thing about this commercial, aside from the obvious objectification of women, is that I showed this in class at NSU," said Scott. "And I asked them if they were troubled by the content. Out of a class of 16, two of whom were men, they laughed it off and didn't seem worried about the message it sent at all."

Scott indicated many TV advertisements are indicative of how the American public has socialized the objectification of women.

"To me, these commercials are quite disturbing," said Scott. "I often ask my students to deconstruct ads. The objective of this ad is, of course, to sell beer. The motivation for people to buy beer is it increases sex appeal. There are psychological theories that indicate this repetitive pattern of alcohol-sex, alcohol-sex provides men with the expectation of receiving sex after drinking or buying women alcohol. A lot of abuse and violence against women occurs when alcohol is involved."

Scott spoke of a mass communication theory known as the "cultivation hypothesis," in which people learn about the world through their exposure to media. Scott pointed out that in recent years, this exposure has grown exponentially.

"Kids today spend a lot of time in front of the television, surfing the Internet and playing video games," said Scott. "This creates mediated realities. Children learn about reality through the media more so than from parents, teachers and other sources. The result? Today's children are desensitized to violence and are over-sexed. This leads to a different norm as far as standards and behavior are concerned."

Scott cited statistics regarding women and abuse, including the fact that a woman is raped every two minutes in the U.S., and that 30 percent of women murdered suffer death at the hands of either a husband or boyfriend. And four out of five women are dissatisfied with their appearance.

"What role does media play in this?" asked Scott, "especially when advertisers admit they're not just selling a product, but a lifestyle?"

Scott encouraged participants to view all media advertising critically, as the images about female beauty -- or lack thereof -- affect everyone.

"Beautiful women in advertising don't just indicate to women they need to be that beautiful, but they also tell men that's the kind of woman they should expect to be with," said Scott. "Objectification is the first step in the dehumanization process. Once a person is an 'object,' it is much easier to treat them with violence."

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