By Sean O Se
Hunky Dory crisps are no stranger to controversy. Last year they ran an advertising campaign showing scantily clad women playing rugby. I didn’t take too much notice of the campaign as I would not be that strong a follower of rugby. To tell the truth, I have never written on feminism or issues facing women before and I am very much a novice when it comes to topics, debates and ideologies associated with feminism. However, today the new Hunky Dory advertising campaign caught my attention. What it depicted was women in tight fitting outfits, attempting to play gaelic football. I felt impassioned enough by what I saw to feel the need to outline why I believe these advertisements are offensive.
Before I explain my reasons for finding these images insulting, let me point out that I am a red blooded, heterosexual male. I drink stout, enjoy my steak raw, and I’m a keen admirer of beautiful women. Neither am I prudish, conservative or frigid. I have been a lifelong member of the Gaelic Athletic Association and that is probably the main reason I take insult to these advertisements.
Firstly, I find these adverts cheap, tacky and without any class or style. When I think of gaelic football I think of Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, passion, song, stories, legends. These adverts go against everything gaelic football means to me. Instead, they reduce the game to a cheap trick in an attempt to sell a product. These adverts are far removed from the reality of the game. The GAA is not just about sport, its also about culture, style and a sense of identity. Hunky Dory have corrupted that culture and have hijacked the games for their own profits. Sure, there are plenty of companies who use gaelic games to advertise their products, but at least they attempt to portray part of the magic of the sport. As a GAA member I feel that they have insulted the sport that I love. This has nothing to do with the third Sunday in September.
Women have played an important role in the GAA since its foundation. Ladies’ football and camogie play an integral part in gaelic games. While nobody is admitting its perfect, the role of women in gaelic games is focused on the players. In other sports most of the attention that women receive is their role as the wife or girlfriend of a sport star. Women are also heavily involved in the organisation of the game. Women are indispensable at club committee level and on county boards. How do the Hunky Dory adverts represent the role of women in the GAA? It denies women the praise they deserve for the role that they play in the organisation. I have been a member of the GAA all my life and have attended countless matches. I have seen the role women play. These adverts are an insult to all the women who work tirelessly to promote the game and its culture.
As I said, I am a heterosexual male with a fondness for beautiful women. Last Saturday I watched Monaghan play Kerry in the All-Ireland Ladies’ Football Semi-Final. What I witnessed was young, determined female athletes playing at the highest level. I also noted that both teams were filled with females that were easy on the eye. If Hunky Dory are determined to have beautiful females as the face of their products, why not invite some of our attractive footballers and camogie players to take part in their campaign. It is possible to appreciate beautiful women without the crass images used in this advert. Why not use real, beautiful, female athletes for their campaign? Why not look at tennis for an example of how female athletes can also portray beauty? Maybe Hunky Dory could sponsor a charity calender featuring some of the beautiful female athletes the GAA has in its ranks?
There are probably many who think that this advertisement campaign is just a bit of harmless fun. As a proud member of the GAA, I feel that it is an insult to everything I believe the association stands for. I have never given much thought to feminist issues before but I would like to thank Hunky Dory for awakening me to the cause.