Berlin Considers Banning Ads That Show ‘Beautiful but Dumb’ Women

Jewelry advertisement in Mumbai, India, 2005 (Reuters photo: Punit Paranjpe)
A panel of experts will decide who is ‘beautiful.’ Isn’t that sexist?

Berlin is considering banning advertisements that show “beautiful but dumb” women, according to reports from local news sources. 

According to The Local, a publication that reports Germany’s news in English, Berlin voted to ban “sexist” billboards in 2016, and officials are now debating what exactly that ban should cover. The Left party, The Local reports, wants to ban any billboard showing a woman who is attractive but also “weak, hysterical, dumb, insane, naÏve, or completely controlled by their emotions,” as well as any ad in which “a woman is barely dressed and smiling without reason, while a man is completely and comfortably clothed.” (The article does not specify whether or not a barely dressed woman who is frowning next to a clothed man would be okay, even though that kind of image seems as if it would be much more disturbing.) Ultimately, it would be up to a team of judges to decide which ads were guilty of violating the restrictions. 

I have so many questions. For one: If the rule bans women who are “beautiful” but “insane,” does that mean that an ad with an “insane,” “ugly” woman would be okay? I’m not sure if it would be, because I haven’t seen the entire proposal, but if so, I just have to ask: Who determines who is “beautiful” and who is “not beautiful”? Wouldn’t that be forcing those judges to make rulings based on stereotypical beauty standards? Aren’t liberals supposed to be against that? 

Speaking of things that liberals are supposed to be against, isn’t judging women for being sexual and/or naked (Free the Nipple!) also one of them? I mean, how misogynistic to suggest that a woman in an ad is “barely dressed and smiling without reason” — maybe she has her own reason, huh? Does she need to give you a “reason”? It is her body! Shouldn’t women be allowed to decide to be half-naked and smiley if they feel like being half-naked and smiley — without having to give a “reason”?

According to The Local, the Green party and the Social Democrats support the Left party’s proposal, while the Christian Democrats (conservative) and the Free Democrats (liberal) oppose it on free-market and free-speech grounds, respectively.  

I, of course, agree with those objections. Giving the government the power to ban billboards based on some absurd and subjective set of rules is a terrible idea — it should allow the people to determine what is and is not acceptable by voicing their displeasure if they see something that they dislike. 

The Local attributes its information to the German publication Tagesspiegel.


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