Calvin Klein and the glamourisation of sexual harassment


You’ve probably already heard about the new Calvin Klein advertising campaign. It’s worked, that’s for sure, in that Twitter and Facebook can’t get enough of complaining about it. And of course the pro-sexism and creepy factions can’t get enough of defending it and lashing out at people who recognise it for what it is – blatant sexist glamourisation of and dismissal of sexual harassment.

It’s so depressingly predictable. I almost didn’t write about it because I don’t want to give the advertisers my attention when I have better things to do right now – like eat lunch for example.

However, I’m incensed. I’ll be brief (that’s not a pun).


This new campaign features butt selfies, dodgy slogans, curiously vagina-like grapefruit and ‘upskirt’ shots of a girl who is not only not annoyed but is kind of, pleased looking. Because it’s flattering to have an upskirt shot taken right? At least that’s what they want us to think. They want us to think that women should be pleased to be objectified, and that being available in this way is what female sexuality is about. That this is erotica (yes ..they’ve actually officially called it “Erotica”). After all, women are the target market – right? (!!??)

“Eat_in #MyCalvins”


This shot, despite vast amounts of complaints (which I’m THRILLED about) is still live on their Instagram account as I type.

It is appalling, and utterly lacking in awareness and basic empathy, that womens’ experiences of sexual assaults and sexualisation are being normalised and packaged as ‘Erotica’ in this way.

Erotic for whom exactly? Well, I think we can answer that..

But that’s Calvin Klein for you. I don’t know if you’re aware of this but if you have a teenage daughter who has recently insisted that you buy her CK underwear there is a very real chance that on her Instagram there is now a shot of her in said underwear, possibly with some sideboob showing and a host of ‘likes’ from strangers, hashtagged #MyCalvins or #meandmycalvins.

This is grooming.

At ‘best’, teenaged girls are being trained to view themselves as sexual objects without desires of their own. At worst the brand is encouraging underaged girls to pose in ways that will attract sexual predators and who will grow up to believe that their function is to look and be sexually available and to be OK with , indeed to like with being viewed as such. How is that erotic for them?

And now, these predators can feel more OK about it, after all the ads have gone viral and teens themselves are hashtagging away, blissfully unaware of the sinister side of their online activities.

I’m concerned, very concerned.

Please engage your teenagers in a conversation about this when you get a chance and consider signing any online petitions you can find. While there is the irritating reality that we are giving CK more publicity here, there is a more positive reality too – people are beginning to see how very real the threat of advertising is to the self esteem and sexuality of our women and girls. And people power is a real thing.


Meanwhile – #NotBuyingIt.





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