Why is a certain wargame shop a sexist advertisement that shouldn't have a place in our community? Let's investigate the matter!
Every now and then some playful reality appears that thinks it is good to advertise in an "old style" way, that is with an attractive model posing among the products to sell.
We had already had a similar situation with the advertising of a local play reality that showed a girl in underwear and with a plush d20 in her hand, a situation that had given rise to the initiative #playernottoy by Veronica Fantoni. We talked about it better Thu.
Today instead we will talk about a new sexist advertisement, made by an Italian ludic reality, that is a wargame shop.
As always, we will not name this reality, as by doing so we will only contribute to advertising them. The intention of this reality would seem to have been to attract new audiences with controversial advertising, so as to make people talk about themselves, according to the logic of “just talk about it”. Therefore, in order to be able to talk about why this advertisement is sexist and degrading (because it is important to talk about it), we will carefully avoid further advertising the shop in question. However, we will endeavor to bring you all the offending posts, to still give you an accurate idea of the situation.
So let's see what this advertisement consists of, what are the comments of those who manage the offending shop, and why this advertisement is sexist and degrading.
Sexist Advertising: What Happened?
Il 27 July, for an Italian wargame shop posted a photo album on their Facebook page, showing a model posing in their shop. The description of the photo album is as follows:
The photo album contains 18 photos, of which we report the following three, to give you an idea of the tone.
Even before that, one of them started shooting on Facebook sponsored advertising, published by the store on 22 July. You see it below. This advertisement was featured on discussion groups such as Sexist advertising offends everyone e It is not the alt right.
The condemnation of Women, Dice & Data
With the circulation of the screenshot of the sponsored post on various Facebook groups, the news of this sexist advertisement also reached the ears of the research group Donne, Nuts & Data (DD&D).
As you know by now, DD&D deals with the study and prevention of discrimination in the Italian role-playing community. They published a study on the subject, presented to Modena Play 2019, in the collection of essays Outside the Dungeon and a conference of the University of Trento, and that you can read Thu. DD&D was also the promoter of the #playernottoy campaign, and therefore it is not surprising that it also took care of condemn the commercial move of this wargame shop. You can read their post in full Thu.
The reactions to the post with sexist advertising
The comments of the photo album with the photoshoot of the posing model count many supporters of the shop, who liked the idea and / or the model. In general, these comments they defend advertising, calling it "a nice way to be known", a "goliardata" or "something different without vulgarity". There is no shortage of comments by more or less explicit appreciation to the model, of which we report the most salient:
if at the next tournament instead of money and miniatures you will have a dinner with her (at the expense of the winner) I think you will have to point out a building
The box it sat on immediately became a limited edition 😍😍😍
Shop Response: That's not ours
The babe never ceases to surprise! Mythical
The central box, you give them the luckiest. Who bought it? 😀 hahaha
The store's response: of course me
If I can go out with this angel I become your client and dust off the old warhammer miniatures
In addition to these comments, there are some criticisms of this initiative, as it is considered sexist.
Why is this advertising sexist?
The speech is similar to what we had done in the article on #playernottoy.
First of all, it is good to clarify one thing. To say that such an advertisement is sexist and objectifying towards the model does not mean blaming the model. In fact, DD&D and anyone who sees themselves in intersectional feminism knows that the model is free to do what she wants, and that the nude / semi-nude (artistic or not) and showing one's body are not practices to be condemned. Each person must be free to use their body as they see fit.
That said, it is important to point out that such advertising is sexist, as it is based on the fact of objectify the model's body. Let's see better what this objectification consists of.
A model not integrated with the context
The model, in fact, is not inserted in the context in an organic way, nor is she a participant in the product you are trying to sell. The model, in fact, is not a wargame player, nor a cosplayer, nor is she shown as a nerd passionate about what the shop in question sells. In general, it is not shown as participating in the surrounding environment and products: picks up a manual, but not to leaf through it, doesn't sit at the table to actually play, isn't interested in wargame.
We know this strangeness of her thanks to the comments of the store itself, which clarifies to some users the fact that the model is not a player.
I was hoping she was a player
Store answer: Unfortunately no!
[…] The real question is… start playing? 😂😂😂
Store answer: I don't think so, but I'm convinced that he doesn't think that playing toy soldiers is a loser thing, that partly beyond marketing is the reason why that provocative photo was taken!
it's not that it's totally credible, it seems like he has never leafed through a book.
Shop answer: he was curious with the photo below. Some are posed, others natural.
So, the model is completely out of context and is placed in the shop for one reason only: attracting the eyes of potential customers with his body, always well exposed. If, on the other hand, we had had as a model a player who was actually passionate about wargame, even without discovering her, the advertisement could have shown her fun and her involvement.
Instead, this model, in the promotional photos, it is present only as a beautiful body on display. She has no relationship whatsoever with the wargames that surround her.
Objectification in advertising: what is it and why is it a problem?
This type of representation is objectifying (or objectifying), that is treat the model as an object. Let's see what this concept means, taking up what I wrote for the article on #playernottoy, with the help of Aurelio Castro of DD&D, PhD in psychology:
“Objectifying” means that the model is not presented in a way that visually shows her as a person, with her own identity, her own character, her own goals and her own decision-making capacity. On the contrary, in this advertisement the model is presented in an unnatural position and which has no other purpose than to make the body of the godmother stand out. Therefore, it takes away naturalness from the female body to make it, in some way, more beautiful to look at. In this way, it also takes away the personality of the model, thus making it a mere piece of meat on the market.
As you will understand, presenting a person as an object is not something positive, because it contributes to normalize the idea that you can look at and comment on a person in the same way you comment on an object, regardless of their sensitivity or dignity. This kind of attitude is visible in some comments to the album and promotional image. Here are two of them:
Gnocca and Warhammer ... I could put my signature on it 😂
I'm not sure who to get home if she or the indomitus 🤔😂
And yes, we understand that whoever wrote these comments probably didn't have bad intentions. However, the fact remains that these comments are objectifying and much less flattering than we tend to think. And, of course, the advertising shown didn't help present the model as anything other than a piece of meat.
Why is this sexist advertisement also degrading towards men?
As they also well said on DD&D, this advertisement is not only sexist and degrading towards women, but it is also degrading towards men. In fact, thinking that they can sell their products using a woman's body, it is assumed that their audience is basically made up of men who would rush to their page just to see these photos, rather than out of interest in wargames.
Therefore, it is assumed that the nerdy audience is made up of the proverbial "horny males", who "have not seen a woman for years", because they are "losers" and "single".
Of course, the shop in their comments states that their idea is slightly different. In fact, according to who manages the store, this advertisement should make it clear that a wargame player can hang out with beautiful girls, or at least be interested in beautiful girls, in addition to playing Warhammer. Above you can read an exchange of comments on this tone between the shop and a user. Below is another similar exchange.
User: Besides they say that nerds don't think about hotties
The store's response: the CONTRAST was that!
So, it seems that those who organized the advertising thought of taking a girl, very beautiful and totally alien to the context, in a wargame shop, so as to do a winking photo shoot to remind themselves and their audience that even nerds boys think of girls. To dispel, therefore, a stereotype that is not even known how widespread it is, namely that nerds are beings without sexual impulses and who only think about games. And debunking it by creating an advertisement in which a woman is presented as an object on which the public of the store can "feast their eyes".
This makes me believe that, behind this advertising, in addition to marketing, there are also many levels of misunderstanding on the demographics of role-playing and wargame players, and how to show the (let's call it) variety of interests of that store's audience.
The RPG community can do better
I don't have much else to add to what I have written. This advertisement is sexist, because it objectifies the model and proposes her as if she were a piece of meat. She is somewhat confused as to what it means: seems to appeal to an audience of supposedly "cunt dead", but the store says it wants to show that wargamers are interested in beautiful girls. And, in all this, the comments objectify the model in turn.
It does not take a genius to understand that we are facing an example of bad communication e bad publicity. The fact that the model, according to the store managers, was their friend and had done them a favor doesn't change anything, because the result was still an objectifying photo shoot.
Personally, I think the RPG and wargame community should expect better from their stores. It should demand greater seriousness and greater ethical awareness, in the way they do marketing. The excuse of "eh, but everyone is advertising sexist" does not hold up, because not only is this a false claim, but it does not invalidate the fact that similar shops can and should do better.
If precisely these wargame shops are interested in showing that they have a diverse audience and are interested in girls, they have many other ways to do it. They can make advertising photos using their customers as models and models, who from other photos of them can also be seen counting some girls, while they are playing. Or they might ask their customers to take pictures playing wargames with their partners.
And precisely because there are so many other possibilities, we must expect better than a sexist advertisement.