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S&M Ad for Stones Album Provoked Women to Protest: Lewis Lapham

The cover jacket of
The cover jacket of "The Feminist Promise: 1792 to the Present." The book is the latest by Christine Stansell. Source: Random House via Bloomberg

June 19 (Bloomberg) -- 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.

I spoke with Christine Stansell, author of “The Feminist Promise” (Modern Library), on the following topics:

1. Exclusion of Women

2. Getting the Vote

3. Viragos and Harpies

4. Body Politics

5. Love and Work

To buy this book in North America, click here.

(Lewis Lapham is the founder of Lapham’s Quarterly and the former editor of Harper’s magazine. He hosts “The World in Time” interview series for Bloomberg News.)

To contact the writer on the story: Lewis Lapham in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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