Sex sells. Am I just being prudish?

This week, this Calvin Klein billboard was erected in Times Square on the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway:


Here, in one of the busiest intersections on the planet, we have two “models.” The girl, who is so emaciated that she’s repugnant to look at (she looks like a spider who’s missing half her legs), is tugging at this gay guy’s shorts, presumably, to get to his cock. Is it my hyperactive imagination or is she suppose to be jerking him off high above Times Square? Lookout below!


The problem I’m having is that this is the peak of the holiday season. The area surrounding Times Square and the Bryant Park skating rink, which is just a block away, is choked with families who are visiting the city. Tell me if I’m being a tool here, but there are little kids everywhere who I don’t think should be exposed to this stuff.

Isn’t there some kind of faceless city board who approves ads in public spaces? Am I finally too old for the city?

14 thoughts on “Sex sells. Am I just being prudish?

  1. me personally, i’m more offended by the fact that smack dab in the middle of the busiest intersection in the world is a walgreens. (and two blocks from that walgreens is a duane reade.)it really fucking pisses me off. how medicated do we really need to be!!!i’m pretty sure most rational human beings just roll their eyes at these dumb CK ads nowadays.

  2. It is provocative. I guess we’d have to figure out if it is unacceptable, then why is that? Is it the location, the prominence of the spot (CK paid for it, could be southwest airlines in another 2 weeks), the quasi-erotica? I’m not in favor of censorship of any sort, but it is an interesting question.Also, I’m not a parent, but I’m wondering why shielding kids from a provocative image would be a good thing. Presumably most kids know that sex exists and they are all the time receiving input about establishing a healthy attitude and (more importantly) healthy boundaries about sex.Seriously, I don’t know the answer. But it is a good question.

  3. I’m the least prudish person in the world, someone who delights in, or at least finds funny, perversions of all sorts.However, I am completely horrified by this. Disgusted. Repugniferated (yes, I had to make up a word to properly express my feelings).I’m so glad we’re in agreement here. I would hate to think that this is what most people agree is okay for kids of all ages to see just in the course of their daily commerce. Frankly, I don’t want to see it when I’m trudging around just trying to get through my day.We don’t want our kids in a total bubble (or do we???), but for god’s sake, this is way over the top, and to add insult to injury it’s flagrant irresponsible capitalist crap. I can honestly say I would hustle Hedgehog by this as fast as I could, and sort of hope she didn’t notice it.I hate our crass society sometimes.I could go on and on.

  4. Calvin Klein has always used porn to sell product. This isn’t new.I think though that it promotes the glossy version of sex as love that really is at the heart of the dysfunction of relationships that seems so rampant in America. People don’t gleam like that in real sexual encounters. Women don’t have that sort of drugged look and neither men nor women are airbrushes and photo-shopped in reality. Oh, and men, have hair on them and don’t look nearly as girl pretty – which is actually a good thing.It’s the fantasy that I object to. It’s as bad as Disney Princesses or romantic comedies where all obstacles are overcome in an Oprah moment.

  5. Jason: You’re right. I’m the only one who sits in a window seat of the coffee shop across the street and ruminates on this stuff.Point: There’s kids (13-15) and there’s kids. I don’t know that 6-8 year olds need to see this stuff.Leah: You don’t strike me as prudish but I’m in agreement with you. It’s gross and unnecessary.Point II: I don’t mind one bit! I need as much input as I can get.Annie: Now that you mention it, you’re right. I remember Calvin Klein always having racy ads. Didn’t he do the Brooks Shields “nothing comes between me an my pants” ad so many years ago?

  6. Unfortunately, as jason quinones commented, “i’m pretty sure most rational human beings”, that only makes up about 5 to 10% of the total human population. The rest are, well, you know.It’s funny how being a parent can alter your views, especially being a dad (as I am and you are) to daughters (as I am and you are). I remember sitting in a pub one Friday after work with three male colleagues, all about 15 years younger than I am. Naturally, as will happen among men, there was some talk about the servers (girls) who were waiting on us. While their proclivity ran towards “hitting on” and (very unlikely) getting a number, my thoughts focussed pretty much on “any one of these girls could be daughters’ friend”. Kind of creepy.I’ve never appreciated CK ads. They are deliberately crafted to invoke a response. Having said that, I’ve never owned a single thing hawked by CK, either. I’m not a “labels” person. I like quality, I just don’t care much for paying extra for a “name”. The ad in question? It’s inappropriately placed. There’s certainly a balance in what we expose our daughters to as we (hopefully) teach them to be strong, independent, free thinking and critical thinking women. However, I can’t help but associate displays like this with the (many) broken young women who find themselves victimized by the pornography industry. Really, this ad would be better placed in one of those glossy tripe filled magazines that avoiders of reality take such pleasure in looking at.

  7. Daisy: I thought you were ALREADY stick thin, brown, hairless and attractive to gay men.Rob: Actually, I was meditating on why this irked me so much and thought that it’s all tied into my being a father to young daughters. That’s very perceptive of you.Jimmy: Perhaps it’s not uncomfortable for someone who weighs 87 pounds, as she seems to.

  8. this Calvin Klein billboard was ERECTED in Times Square. Love it.And no, you’re not being prudish. I’ve always had a problem with these bill boards and kids. Now that my daughter is 14, the implied sex is only one problem. The choice of a walking stick to stand in for the female is also a problem. This putting forth of anorexia as a beauty ideal is sickening.

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