Here’s a tip for media outlets hoping to hop on the women-in-business bandwagon: If you’re hosting a conference honoring your country’s most powerful women, don’t produce an ad touting female leadership “from the bedroom to the boardroom.” While you’re at it, don’t use a weird cartoony silhouette of a skinny woman with long flowing locks and pornishly perky breasts. A headline writer at the Wall Street Journal tactfully calls this a “provocative” ad, but let’s call it what it is: Atrociously, almost hilariously, sexist.
The ad was produced to promote an event that took place yesterday in Indonesia, hosted by a business magazine called GlobeAsia. Distinguished businesswomen and government officials, including the minister of women empowerment and child protection, attended. Sessions covered standard topics like “Women at Work: The Great Juggling Act” and “Women in a Men’s World.” Meanwhile, the ad celebrated the event as “From the Bedroom to the Boardroom: The Rise of Women Leaders in Asia.”
The Wall Street Journal points out that public discussions of gender are not always enlightened in Southeast Asia. Jakarta governor Fauzi Bowo said in September that women could avoid being raped by dressing modestly, a statement that drew widespread outcry. And the Obediant Wives Club, a pro-polygamy group in Malaysia, just produced a sex guide for wives, advising that they serve their husbands like “a first-class prostitute.”
In light of that, the creepy GlobeAsia ad doesn’t seem like the end of the world. Still, the proper response is embarrassment, not defiance. And here the magazine fails again: “The title is a little bit provocative, but it was meant to be that way,” Shoeb Kagda, the editor of GlobeAsia, told the WSJ. “We haven’t received any complaints.” Well, consider this your first one.