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Danica Patrick May Be Ditched in GoDaddy Half-Nude Women Ads, But the Sexism Remains

Unless you live under an Internet-rock, at some point you must have heard rumors of the questionable advertising choices of the domain hosting site GoDaddy.

In the past GoDaddy has featured women showering together at the command of the men watching them, two women body painting another nude woman with GoDaddy's slogans, and other scantily clad bodies in insinuating situations.

At the close of the ads, they all have this gem of a message: "See a lot more [of the naked woman] at GoDaddy! Warning! Web Content Unrated."

The company made headlines recently when they decided to hire ad agency Deutsch New York to take over advertising and steer the GoDaddy marketing messages in a different direction. But in order to understand why there's still not much hope for this refurbishing, we've got to go back to what was wrong with the advertisements in the first place. 

Think of the one phrase you associate most with advertisers and their trade. "Sex sells", right? GoDaddy takes this sentiment to the extreme and, much like Dr. Pepper Ten, appears to be trying to sell sex(ism) in the ironic sort of "we know you know what we're doing and that's why it's funny" way. However, even when that irony is understood, the fact remains that the heart of the advertisement is sexist in its portrayal of women as objects (read: women without agency that exist simply for the male gaze). This portrayal harms the audience viewing the commercials by reinforcing that objectifying women is appropriate and a fact of life. The objectification of women factors into the creation and support of rape culture, harmful heteronormativity, and eating disorders, among other negative realities of our culture.

 

So why should we not preemptively jump for joy at the thought of GoDaddy shifting marketing directions? 

1) GoDaddy didn't actually say they were sorry or acknowledge that their previous ads were sexist.

According to an article from The Atlantic Wire, GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons compared the previous ads to "a frat boy" who is now graduating and maturing with the new agency. Not only does this avoid claiming responsibility for the prior offenses but it also condones sexist behavior as synonymous with and expected of college-aged men. Perfect.

2) GoDaddy hasn't shown that they've matured in the way they conceptualize and intend to use the women in their advertisements.

From the same article, Val DiFebo the chief executive of Deutsch New York is quoted as saying they intend to, "leverage the power the girls have brought to the table." Referring to the grown women in the commercials as "girls" is already a red-flag in the way it positions them as "less than" and infantile. But most worrisome is the use of the word "power" and what it is referencing. The power being referenced is the power the women in the ads had via their own sexualization and sexual exploitation. 

So when the chief executive of the ad agency hired by GoDaddy says that they're going to maintain and leverage the power of the "GoDaddy Girls", I don't have high hopes for GoDaddy straying far from their sexist roots. And I would still urge you to switch service providers, especially when there are so many other options available. 

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