Open Letter To Edgars

Open Letter To Edgars

In the momentum of #MeToo and the End Sexual Exploitation lobby more generally, some beer brands “apologised” for objectifying women in ads in SA. Yet Edgars made it clear in the midst of world cup soccer fever that they just don’t give a rip about women!

As many of us followed the world cup soccer and other sport on YouTube this last week, reports started coming in from all over regarding an Edgars underwear ad. The ad featuring a very thin Nordic looking woman writhing around on a bed in underwear (targeted at men) had many people very angry. The ad call to action so to speak was, ‘get something for her that’s really for you.’

Ever increasingly, the sexual objectification of women and girls is being seen to be undermining the rights, sexual autonomy, physical safety and economic and social equality of women. The harm done to women is not merely moral as some suggest, it is political, because the corporate control of our visual landscape cannot be disconnected from public health interests. The growing evidence, which supports the connection between sexual objectification of women and girls with aggression towards them, cannot be ignored. Likewise, research has linked self-objectification in women to mental health outcomes including depression, disordered eating, and reduced productivity.

In South Africa it is not at all controversial to point out that gender based violence is a huge problem. Nor would it be outrageous to observe the alarming trends in young girls suffering from negative body image and premature sexualisation. Responding to the social and structural drivers of this vulnerability is a significant public concern. Furthermore, in the South African Constitution, Chapter 2 in the bill of rights, we see the recognition of everybody’s dignity (everyone’s intrinsic worth). No human being, it follows, may be treated as something less than human and as a mere object. We suggest that woman being viewed primarily as an object of male sexual desire, rather than as a whole person, is a social driver that contributes to the diminution of women’s constitutionally protected dignity.

So the Edgars advertisement is a clear example of such an indignity toward women. Even after the Pinion Project and many others appealed to Edgars to remove the ad, nothing happened and the ad continues. The potential brand damage should be sufficient to wake up the help desk at Edgars, but as I have said, not one word from them.

Understanding women’s lived experiences and mental health risks associated with the corporate control of our visual landscape, is full of difficulties when it comes to regulation to be sure. We should all encourage self regulation and being responsible in the public space. Still, overt disregard like this from Edgars should motivate women and men, not only to stay away from Edgars, but to share this post.

  • We call on Edgars to embrace social responsibility and remove their underwear ad campaign, with an apology
  • We call on the public to boycott Edgars until such a removal and apology.

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