Bound with ropes, bruises clearly visible, a giant, scantily clad woman sprawled on the billboard high above Sunset Boulevard. It was model Anita Russell promoting a new album. “I’m Black and Blue from the Rolling Stones,” she exclaimed. “And I love it!”
The year was 1976 and women were taking a closer look at the way they were portrayed in popular culture. Fed up with the flagrantly misogynistic images used to titillate men and move product, Los Angeles feminist group Women Against Violence Against Women staged a demonstration, getting widespread media coverage.
The S&M-tinged billboard was removed. The album went on to spend four weeks at the top of the charts, ultimately going platinum. Debate about the imagery of the female body continues.
1. Exclusion of Women
2. Getting the Vote
3. Viragos and Harpies
4. Body Politics
5. Love and Work
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To contact the writer on the story: Lewis Lapham in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org.