Posts tagged ‘sexuality’

January 30, 2019

#147) When it’s OK for sex to sell part 2: No Anti-Sinematism from this blogger!

“SEX! Now that I’ve got your attention…” may be the oldest marketing ploy out there, but sometimes it works.

Like many people, I did a double take when I saw photos of a woman standing on the U.S. Senate floor wearing over the knee boots and a short dress. I may be a happily married man but I am not above the occasional ogle. Once I realized that her presence among the more conservatively dressed men and women was not a Photoshop gag, I did what many Britons did the day after voting for Brexit: I went straight to Google. When I was in high school, a sexy album cover made me a jazz geek overnight. Will senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and her boots make a political pundit out of me – or at least inspire me to become a little less ignorant? Before I saw the photo, I had no idea that Sinema is Arizona’s first female senator, that she is the country’s first openly bisexual senator and that she was once homeless. Had she been wearing a pantsuit, I still would have no idea.

Love her outfit or hate it, Sinema has a chance to become a new, galvanizing voice for the Democrats while also daring the conservatives to get grumpy and look like the dowdy GOP of old. It’s telling that Alabama auditor Jim Ziegler got defensive about his Sinema comments. Now that she knows what kind of a response she can get by the length of her footwear, what will Sinema do about it? Will she become a latter day Sarah Palin/Michele Bachmann or will her story grow legs as long as those that strode across the Senate floor?

I leave those questions to better minds than mine to debate. What I do know is that I can’t be the only political ignoramus whose interest was piqued by Sinema and her fashion statement. Right or wrong, sex sells – and in this case, it might just increase voter turnout in the bargain.

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October 28, 2015

#98) When it’s OK for sex to sell

Note: this post is a companion to my review of Hilton Ruiz’s album “Strut.”

That sex sells is a given; the variable is how people react. Most responses are either outrage or a shrug of the shoulders. Don’t like chicks pouring water on themselves? Don’t buy the product. However, there just might be a legitimate upside to the use of sexual images in selling: when sex serves as a gateway to a longer-lasting relationship.

Observe. Fall, 1990. It was my sophomore year and as most of the world was in 1990, I was getting tired of heavy metal. I had been dabbling with jazz for a while, both as a listener and as a player, but it was yet to really click for me. One day while browsing CDs at the library I noticed one with a tasteful and understated cover.

Hilton Ruiz's record, What I didn’t know was that this pair of legs would unlock jazz for me. When I listened to this record by Puerto Rican pianist Hilton Ruiz, I heard the jazz language with which I was still not comfortable mixed with rock energy and a Latin flair that was an exotic contrast to the Boston winter that was rapidly approaching. Suddenly jazz was exciting, not just an academic subject to be graded on. Within weeks I was listening to the Modern Jazz Quartet, Brubeck and Lee Morgan, the doomed trumpeter whose signature composition “The Sidewinder” was covered by Ruiz on this disc. To be sure, the image on the cover of “Strut” may have turned some people off, but it also begat at least one jazz snob. My relationship with jazz has been contentious at times over the last quarter century, but at least I have a relationship with it. Might I have become a fan without Ruiz’s salacious cover? Perhaps, but there’s no doubt that that pair of legs served as an agent for change.

Is the creation of a jazz geek worth the price of objectifying a woman? Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes you have to wait a quarter century for the answer. Perhaps if the woman on the album cover was someone I knew or loved, I’d feel differently but because of the impact that this record had on my life, using sex to sell will never be a black and white issue.

September 30, 2011

#26) “Hello…VADGE!”

Recently we were talking to a friend of ours who had just gotten into a relationship.  She liked this guy she had started dating, but felt he was a little bit passive in some areas…such as the bedroom.  She would be flirty, she was saying.  Affectionate.  A little bit teasing.  And he didn’t seem to be picking up on the signals.

“Look,” said M., “Sometimes you just need to be direct.”  She pointed just below her waist and said, “Hello…vadge!“*

This line has become somewhat of an ongoing joke with us, but it actually, I’ve found, has some interesting implications beyond its blueness.  I’ve come to adapt this crude nickname for female genitalia to stand for anything good that I have that’s right under my nose but is going unappreciated as I bemoan the things that I don’t have.  (After all, I don’t want to catch myself behaving like Kayla of post #25).  “Hello…vadge!” has become a mantra that reminds me that through all of life’s ups and downs there are things for which to be thankful.  Just as I’ve caught myself asking, “Is that all you got me?” I also catch myself resenting not having the successes and freedom I ultimately desire, but ignoring the world before me, desperately pointing to its undercarriage and saying, “Hello….VADGE!”

Another side of this phrase is how it empowers the one who says it.  There are times in life when you just have to be direct.  Don’t ask, don’t get: that’s how the universe works.   Fortunately for our friend, she did ask, although I’m guessing probably not with the exact phrasing that was suggested.  Did she get?  Let’s just say that we haven’t heard her complain about that aspect of her relationship since then.

*I’ve used the spelling I’ve seen used by Sarah Silverman, Denis Leary and several others.  I’ve always been partial to the shorter “vag”, but I can understand why this spelling is more phonetically user-friendly, rhyming with “badge”, “Madge”, etc.