Get Rid of Indecent Billboards in Your Community: Here’s How You Can Help Out

Get Rid of Indecent Billboards in Your Community: Here’s How You Can Help Out

By Elise Ellsworth

A number of years ago, Times Square displayed a billboard featuring a number of backsides that were completely uncovered. The owner of the business on which the billboard was displayed—a church—decided to file suit to block the billboard display. A judge agreed and had the billboard removed. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident and billboard advertisers seem to be gaining the upper hand. Public silence has allowed billboards to increasingly use the shock value of indecency and sexualized content to grab public attention.

A study on the effects of sexualized advertisement showed that advertising which contains sexualized content leads to male arousal.  It also leads to its viewers dehumanizing women—this dehumanization has been shown to lead to greater instances of sexual harassment and rape. Ironically, this same study also concluded that viewers of this type of advertisement were actually less likely to support the some of the causes that the advertisements promoted.

What can we do about indecent billboards?

As one prominent anti-pornography group put it: silence implies consent. The silence of the American public on decency issues is probably, in large part, responsible for the sharp increase in indecent media over the past century.

If you see a billboard or other advertisement that appears indecent here are some actions you can take:

  1. Contact the company that owns the offensive billboard (not the advertiser) and ask them to remove it.
  2. If they refuse, contact the Outdoor Advertising Association of America for a determination of whether the billboard owner is violating the OAAA code of ethical conduct.
  3. If there is an ethical violation, the OAAA will contact the association member directly.

The address of the OAAA is: Outdoor Advertising Association of America, 1850 M Street N.W., Suite 1040, Washington, DC 20036

Instead of trying to avert your eyes every time you pass a suggestive billboard, do something! Your words may be just the catalyst needed to make your community a more positive place.


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