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Using Sex to Sell: Topics to Explore Category
Sexual Messages

Advertisers are selling much more than products these days. Lessons and activities focus on messages about sexuality seen in current advertising.


Messages About Heterosexual Relationships in Ads
Participants explore how advertisers use images of sexual relationships to sell products, and how these images reflect stereotypes of sexual gender roles and feelings.

People As Sexual Objects
Participants explore the ways advertisers use people as sexual objects, and discuss the possible effects of this imagery on individuals and society.

Sexual Violence in Ads
Participants explore the ways advertisers use sexual violence imagery to sell products, identify sexual violence themes in images that do not show actual violence, and discuss the possible effects of such imagery on individuls and society.


The Calvin Klein Controversy
After researching public response to CK ad campaigns, participants write and debate their own interpretations of the ads.

Changing Sexy Images
By altering the image, participants change the meaning of sexy ads.

Countering Sexual Messages
Participants brainstorm ideas for counter ads by “talking back” to images.

A Match Game for Sexual Stereotypes
A game designed to increase participants’ awareness of the stereotypes—gender roles, behaviors, body types, feelings—used in ads with sexual messages about relationships.

“Re-Humanizing” Sexual Objects
By writing a thought-diary for the models appearing in ads as sexual objects, participants increase their awareness that such models are, in fact, real people with real feelings.

Sexual Imagery and Popular Culture
Through collage-making and discussion, participants explore the meaning of sexual imagery in popular culture.

In Advertising, Sex Is Not the Same Thing As Romance
By examining ads of both varieties, participants explore how advertisers use different images to show romance than they do to show sex.

But Sex Has Nothing To Do With It!
Youth explore how advertisers use sexual messages and images to sell products that have nothing to do with sex, feeling sexy, or being attractive.

FCUK is a Four Letter Controversy
From media coverage to public outrage, participants explore the controversy surrounding FCUK, a clothing company based in the United Kingdom. Youth examine ads, and discuss their own interpretations.

Protesting The Abercrombie and Fitch ‘Magalog’
After reading news articles that report on the controversy of the A&F magalog, from when it hit the stores until it was pulled from the shelves, participants examine how protest plays a part, if any, in retailers’ decisions regarding racy material.

For More On Sexual Messages, See:

The Gift of Sexuality, Part 2: Sexuality and the Media
Participants use images taken from print ads to make a collage illustrating how the media portrays sexuality.

The Gift of Sexuality, Part 3: Sexuality—Media/Fantasy or Me/Reality
Participants compare how the media portrays young adults and their sexuality to real life images of the same group. Youth also discuss their own interpretations of the “sex is a gift” message.

Victoria’s Secret is Out: The Mass Marketing of Underwear
Participants examine and discuss how ads, TV commercials, and special events have made underwear manufacturers household names. Youth discuss target audiences, body image, and sexual messages of ads for Victoria’s Secret and Calvin Klein, and then take a closer look at marketing underwear to teens.


Media Literacy 101 Using Sex to Sell Talking About Abstinence Reducing Risks Reading Media Be the Judge Producing Media
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