Free Speech and Sexism: The Role of Social Media

Friday, 20 July 2018: 16:30
Oral Presentation
Linda DELLA RAGIONE, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Spain
Since advertisement started to arise, women have been increasingly used as protagonists in order to advertise and sell products devoid of any connection with the female body. Their image has been undressed, fragmented, up to decapitated. We came to speak about the ‘commodification’ of the female body. That gender representation in advertising is not neutral, and that this has a deep impact on society, is proved by the attention that high-ranking researchers have devoted to the ethical questions directly emerging from these matters. Erving Goffman in 1976 expressed his opinion about the contribution that the role models proposed by the media and by advertising gave to the meaning of “gender identity” since they strongly pervaded society, due to their public diffusion. For any legal system, an especially difficult problem consists in putting limits to the freedom of speech.In the advertising industry, it is possible to find an example of the “third way” proposed by R. Abel in his Speech and Respect, in order to solve the conflicts caused by a speech, namely a (semi)-informal process through which it is possible to regulate the speech itself, besides solving a conflict. The aim envisaged by Abel is an institutionalized but informal conversation between the victim and the offender where the offender should offer an explanation, an alternative interpretation of his own ambiguous words and impenetrable motives. The victim, in turn, could accept this explanation and his injury might heal. There are some examples of public excuses presented in a “communitarian” way from ads companies. Nowadays, the easiest and more practical manner to express a public apologize is through social medias. The aim of this paper is to prove the effectiveness of Abel’s third way in the advertising field, in order to redress the status equality between men and women.