Humane Educator's Toolbox: Using Images & Ads to Explore Humane Issues

When exploring issues related to human rights, the environment, animal protection, and culture, images can be a powerful tool. We can learn a lot about ourselves and our values from how we respond to and what we notice (or don’t notice) in images.

Two terrific resources for making use of images in exploring humane issues are Sociological Images and Gender

Sociological Images posts (primarily) images, videos and graphs, along with frequent commentary, “for use in sociology (and related) classes.” The site focuses on numerous topics related to culture, from the way men, women and people from different ethnic groups are portrayed, to body image issues to violence to consumerism to politics. Many of the images and videos are from ads, and examples from a variety of decades and countries are represented. Recent posts that have caught my eye include one about "in" and "out" groups and one about the hyper-consumerism surrounding babies, children and tweens.

Posts are organized by topic (look for the “select tag” drop down menu), so that browsers can see all the posts related to issues of interest — everything from objectification to race and ethnicity to health to animals/nature to children/youth. Some of the images are pretty explicit, so don’t browse this at work or when younger kids are around.

There are some really amazing and horrifying examples here — great conversation starters, eye openers and arrgghhh! inducers. A useful tool for sparking discussion on a variety of humane topics.

Another helpful resource, which deals strictly with advertising images related to gender is Gender The site (which is no longer updated) has organized ads by general concept (females in ads, males in ads, objectification, etc.) and also by dozens of specific themes (nagging, dehumanizing, violence, parts, power, etc.). The site uses ads from a variety of countries and time periods, and many of the images are only appropriate for an older audience. The site could be more user-friendly, and some of the ads are difficult to see (especially older ones that have been scanned), but there is still a lot here worth exploring, especially when you tie it in with other resources.

~ Marsha

Image courtesy of mauren veras via Creative Commons.
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