Camel cigarette ads encourage sexual harassment
I have just cancelled my subscription to Omni magazine and I feel it is necessary to inform the MIT community of what I think is a giant step backwards in the fight for women's rights. While reading the May 1989 issue of Omni, I came across a pamphlet-type advertisement for Camel cigarettes in the center of the magazine. I did not know that the ad was for Camel until I turned the page. The front of the ad showed a picture of a seductive-looking blond with the caption "Bored, lonely, restless? What you need is ..." Upon turning the page, I was faced with Camel's "foolproof" advice on "How to impress someone at the beach" entitled "Smooth Move #334." First on the list was, "Run into the water, grab someone and drag her back to the shore, as if you've saved her from drowning. The more she kicks and screams, the better."
The more she kicks and screams, the better?! I am outraged. I think there are many other women out there who would be horrified at the prospect of being dragged out of the water by a total stranger and taken to God knows where to face an unknown fate. As if the words were not enough, the "advice" is accompanied by a picture of a woman in a bathing suit slung over a man's shoulder. The woman has an obvious look of horror on her face and is clenching one of her fists while the man sports a large grin. In the background, two other women have looks of disgust and disbelief on their faces.
The behavior encouraged by Camel cigarettes is obviously sexual harassment and, more importantly, could lead to more serious crimes like assault and rape. It is a sorry day when a reputable science magazine such as Omni would accept such trash. Then again, maybe we should have expected it from Bob Guccione who also promotes the pornographic publication Penthouse. However disturbing the existence of pornography is, the issue here in this ad is harassment. What kind of message is Camel trying to send out to male smokers and potential smokers -- that it is OK to treat women like a piece of meat? Isn't it time we stopped this madness? It is bad enough that a woman cannot even go jogging without fear of attack. Why should it now be unsafe to go to the beach in broad daylight? Furthermore, judging from the actions of the men at the New Bedford, RI bar where a woman was gang raped, who is going to lift a finger to help someone who is being attacked on the beach? People will just assume the guy is "having a little fun." Well, sexual harassment is not fun, nor should it be tolerated at any time.
Unfortunately Camel cigarettes plans to fill us in on more smooth moves in the near future. I certainly hope others will not aid Omni and Camel cigarettes in their plan to insult and degrade women. Please help stop this abuse of women and write to the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company or any publication that displays this offensive ad.
Laura Ryzowicz '89->