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Beaches, Babes and Conservation: What’s Wrong With That?

Beaches, Babes and Conservation: What’s Wrong With That?

 

Written by Keith Goetzman

The Nature Conservancy is taking a new stripped-down approach to environmental protection: The green group is teaming up with the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and online luxury retailer Gilt to raise money for beach preservation in an unholy mashup of sex, commerce, marketing, publishing, and environmentalism.

Why the green tie-in? “Because everyone benefits from pristine tropical beaches. Especially when they’re occupied by gorgeous women in bathing suits.” That’s according to promotional prose about the partnership on the Gilt website, in an announcement that is no longer posted. (Though you can still buy a $1,000 ticket to a New York launch party where you can hang out with the swimsuit supermodels.)

Gilt will be selling Sports Illustrated-themed swimsuits, surfboards, photos, and other merch on its site, with all ecommerce sale proceeds going “to preserve the beaches SI features in its pages,” reports Folio magazine.

Not everyone is sold on the mission. “What’s next for The Nature Conservancy?” wrote a commenter on Folio. “Partnering with porn sites?”

I understand the writer’s sentiment. The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has long been an overhyped exercise in sexual objectification and anorexia induction, and I’m not sure why The Nature Conservancy thinks it will benefit from hitching its green message to the marketing machine that cranks out this cheeseball, throwback brand of softcore year after year. The association seems to risk putting off every potential supporter who doesn’t think Mad Men is a look back at the good old days.

Environmental writer Derrick Jensen of Orion already saw this sort of thing coming, having penned a prescient column in the current issue titled “Not in My Name.” Go ahead and call him a killjoy, but I think he pretty much nailed it:

Let me say upfront: I like fun, and I like sex. But I’m sick to death of hearing that we need to make environmentalism fun and sexy. … The fact that so many people routinely call for environmentalism to be more fun and more sexy reveals not only the weakness of our movement but also the utter lack of seriousness with which even many activists approach the problems we face. …

Unfortunately, the notion that activism … has to be fun and sexy pervades the entire environmental movement, from the most self-styled radical to the most mainstream reformist.

This post was originally published by the Utne Reader.

 

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Photo from mark sebastian via flickr

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171 comments

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3:31PM PDT on Jun 12, 2012

David L. - that's BS - People on beaches are normal looking, not laying around with their butts up in the air or with an over-the-shoulder come hither look on their face - this is obviously contrived for the purpose of sexual titillation. It looks like a laddie magazine cover - Maxim or other soft porn mags. It does nothing to service the environment and everything to disservice women.

3:28PM PDT on Jun 12, 2012

David L. - that's BS - it looks like Maxim or Porn Mag covers. People on beaches are normal looking, not posing with their butts in the air and a come hither look on their face - this is obviously contrived for the purpose of sexual stimulation. It's fine in it's place, but not to sell environmental purposes or anything else - even washing machines.

3:25PM PDT on Jun 12, 2012

David L. - that's BS - it looks like Maxim or Porn Mag covers. People on beaches are normal looking, not posing with their butts in the air and a come hither look on their face - this is obviously contrived for the purpose of sexual stimulation. It's fine in it's place, but not to sell environmental purposes or anything else - even washing machines.

1:28PM PDT on Jun 12, 2012

wow. making women objects of sex to help the environment. quite a trade

9:09PM PST on Mar 3, 2012

LOOKS like any of dozens of local beaches around here on a lazy summer's morning...

:-P

11:13AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

stuff liek this is why we have young girls thinking they are ugly and fat. we need a more positive way for environmental causes and stop reducing women to be like pieces of arts, just sit around and be pretty

5:25AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

LOGICAL "INDIVIDUALS" CAN CHOOSE FOR THEMSELVES I.E. THINK TANK; ILLOGICALS ARE IN GROUPS I.E. GROUPTHINK. WHEN ONE CONSUMES LOGIC - THIS BRAIN MATTER IS NOT BE AN ISSUE - SO I AM STEPPING OUT. MY LOGICAL APPROACH STANDS AS I WILL BECOME ONE OF THOSE VYING FOR ATTENTION OBO OF ANIMALS - TO INCLUDE HUMAN ANIMALS AND I AM DOING IT MY WAY WHICH INCLUDES JUST-AS-NDERHANDED AS THOSE OF MY OPPONENTS - HOWEVER, FOR THE BETTERMENT OF ALL HUMAN/ANIMAL KIND.

9:00PM PST on Mar 1, 2012

I love you Barry! Thank you for your sensible, thoughtful and intelligent comment. I wish there were more in the world like you.

As it turns out, this ad was NOT authorized from the top - and slipped through by someone who apparently comes from a different line of thinking. I wouldn't be surprised if it's the conservative right sneaking in to give environmentalists a bad name for selling sex since they're so hypocritical about these things in general.

March is Women's History Month - maybe those who don't see a problem with this ad may want to read about women's history and gain a bit of understanding about the struggle women have gone through and how objectifying them sexually in the media hasn't helped. Humor sells, unique interests sells, imagination and creativity sells, but resorting to T&A - is pure LAZY.

6:56PM PST on Mar 1, 2012

?

12:30PM PST on Feb 22, 2012

People who love clean beaches will rally for something close to their hearts. So what if we portray the handsome and beautiful to get action. So many of the world's great beaches have become less than good because no one cares. Or no one knew how to use the media to get the message across. Clean safe beaches are an economic powerhouse.

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