Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Advertising Fail: Maine Office of Substance Abuse

In case you can't see, this hungover stick figure is saying "Don't think we did anything."

The website it is linked to is the Maine Office of Substance Abuse page called "Party Smarter," which has non-gendered tips about safety.

Why the gendered advertising? Why only call out women? Men can do things they regret and feel shame about as well when they have been drinking. This advertisement is going to reinforce the idea that when women drink, their behavior (when sexual) is shameful. If there is no advertisement to men with a similar message, then they will continue to assume that male sexual behavior is always permissible, while women's sexual behavior (especially when under the influence) is open to scrutiny.

This of course brings up the idea of consent, and there are states where if either party is intoxicated during a hookup, either party (male or female... or male/male, female/female etc) can charge the person with sexual misconduct if they feel violated. However, as a legal drinker, I know that if I have like two beers over the course of the night, I'm completely lucid and can make decisions for myself. However, culture keeps telling me that my behavior while drunk, if it gets sexual, is a mistake.


  1. Hi, Liz,
    While this ad happened to feature a female, other related ads also focused on a male audience. I am happy to provide you with the full campaign overview if you like.
    Thank you,
    Ted Darling, Ethos

  2. Yeah, eventually the male-geared ads showed up in my side bar, the "Sorry I flirted with your girlfriend" ad. I'm not sure if there are more ads, but that doesn't seem to carry the same sort of gravity as the possible rape in the ad geared toward women and I think that representation is unequal and stereotypical.