French ad degrades fellatio by comparing it to smoking

The French are known for indulging in certain pleasures that many Americans consider vices, like smoking and sex. While it may not be surprising that the French would use sex to sell an anti-smoking message, for me it's strange that they would degrade oral sex by comparing it to smoking.

The posters, made by the Non-Smokers' Rights Association (NSR), display both teenage boys and girls kneeling crotch-level before a man in business attire who has his hand on the back of the teens' heads. The teens look questioningly up at the man as a cigarette dangles from their lips, disappearing into the man's pants. The caption reads: "Smoking Means Being a Slave to Tobacco."

The posters were  hung in bars, cafes, and tobacco shops on Monday, and immediately drew a number of detractors.  Some believe the ads toy with the idea of child pornography.  Also, the tobacco industry doesn't like being compared to rapists or pedophiles.

No matter what your moral stance, there's no denying that the ads are catchy. Even if they are banned, this marketing campaign did its job of attracting attention, and like their nicotine opponents, generating a buzz.

NSR points out that while smoking has declined among many groups, it has jumped 40% in 12-to-25-year-olds. The campaign seeks to "make people aware that smoking isn't a defiance of authority, but instead a sign of submission and naiveté — a behavioral, psychological and physical submission to an addictive drug that will control their acts, dirty their bodies and cost them dearly."

I'm troubled that no one has raised a fuss about how these ads reinforce the negative stereotype that fellatio is a deeming, disgusting, addiction, no different than smoking. Increasingly, the media has depicted fellatio as a degrading act forced on an unreceptive party. Cunnilingus is never shown in these terms though it is basically the same action. Believe it or not, many men and women actually enjoy performing oral sex. Others do so because they like to give their partner pleasure. Comparing fellatio to a nasty addiction that an older man forces on a younger partner is unfair for everyone who enjoys oral sex safely and responsibly.


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