''Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it'', said Stephen Leacock. He probably stated an undisputable truth as we now see our world full of advertisements everywhere we are and everywhere we go. Advertising invites us into a world of appearances, constructed by verbal and visual symbols used to associate these images with specific. To do it advertisers had to ''marry the product with something everyone, or almost everyone, thought of and wanted-sex'', where in a male-dominated industry, sex was eqaul with women.
When female bodies started popping up in ads ''feminists cried foul'' because of ''women's stereotyped and objectified images'' Modern advertising is an annual multi-billion Dollar business in United States of America. Advertising is everywhere - on television, in magazines, in cinemas, on countless web pages, on trains and even on milk-cartons. In fact, advertisements are so common in our times that we do not even realize we are looking at them anymore. They try to reach not only our mailboxes, but also our minds and in doing so, they contribute to the image we shape of women and men in our culture.
The debate, whether the portrayal of woman and man in advertising is a serious or overrated issue, has been enduring for quite some time and the final answer may never be found. Is there more violence against women as a result of these images? Does the objectification of gender in advertising have an adverse affect on society? Are women being exploited? Are we just looking at peoples bodies and not their minds? Ad strategies often switch from traditional to modern and back.
For instance, during the eighties of 20th Century, advertisers have put forward ads that showed men "fussing over what dinner they should prepare for their dates", while Marketing News of the nineties headlined: "Forget the sensitive men! " and reported that marketers have decided that the "manly man" and ads "oozing testosterone" were back. Also with respect to female role portrayals, opinions have been divided and variable. While some marketers have ditched the old gender stereotype and won't risk offending their female customers, others subscribe that magazine covers like Cosmopolitan should be close to porn.
Further, we are still seeing advertisements that continue to primarily target women as the cleaners and the caretakers. Finally, practitioner journals reiterate the need to better understand male and female attitudes in order to develop effective advertisements that "translate" across gender lines. This suggests that practitioners are still puzzling on how to portray gender roles in ads. This study will concentrate on stereotypes associated with women and man in advertisements. It is safe to conclude that stereotypes exist and are a part of our lives.
People act according to these stereotypes because they are considered socially acceptable. For example, when people think of an advertisement for a household cleaner, what comes to mind, most likely, is a woman. It is also likely that the picture in peoples minds corresponds closely to what researchers have called the "happy housewife" stereotype. This is a stereotype that has been associated with the image of women in most print and television advertisements. What is more, woman should not be only the best housewife, woman should be also slim and sexy. Movies and television shows suggest that all women are air-heads.
Magazine and other advertisements push photographs of very slender and "sexy" women into the minds of children. Men's magazines write articles on how to "dupe" a girl into sleeping with them. Haven't we, as a society moved past the sexist ideals of the past? Judging from the way the media portrays women, it seems as if things are only getting worse. Jean Kilbourne, probably the best-known advocate of raising awareness about the exploitation of women in advertising, claims that, "we are exposed to over 2000 ads a day, constituting perhaps the most powerful educational force in society. If that number is correct, we would view as many as 730,000 ads a year. Jean claims that the image of women in ads is negatively influencing the view men have of women in our society and how women view themselves. She claims that the constant barrage of images and texts depicted in ads, suggesting the idea that 'the thinner a woman is, the better she is', has a strong influence. The extremely sex and body focused advertising can have another effect in young women, especially. It can lead to body dissatisfaction, and in some cases, eating disorders.
Rader Programs, an Eating Disorder treatment center states that, when even young girls watch movies and look at magazines they have commonly think to live up to the super-thin look that most models today have if they are to be beautiful. The average age for a girl to start dieting is now eight, compared to the fourteen-year-old average of 1970. These images that girls are trying to live up to are not realistic, though. The average model is 5'11 and 117 pounds, while the average American women is 5'4 and weighs 140 pounds. As the average American gets larger, the average model gets thinner.
Partly as a result of this unrealistic ideal, 81% of ten year old girls are afraid of being fat, and four out of five American women are unhappy with their body. When examining various ads, one can see that there is most definitely a slant on the type of models used across the board, for example, in mainstream magazines. Most models, male and female alike, usually have 'perfect' bodies (slim for women, muscular for men), look happy, have a good social and financial status, are usually tall and seem to be of Caucasian descent.
Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part these seem to target a specific market, other than the 'General Public'. Ads seem to be tailored to the specific audience of the magazines they appear in, so the product that is displayed with a white woman in 'Cosmopolitan', might be accompanied by a colored woman in 'Ebony' or 'O', Oprah Winfrey's magazine. This however, apart from the occasional exception seems to be the end of the similarities between men and women in visual advertising.
Several websites and studies, including the previously mentioned website from Rebecca Zarchikoff, examine the pictures more closely. They look at body language, signs of aggression, dominant features, relevance to the product advertised, what part of the body was actually photographed or depicted, facial expressions, phallic symbols, 'exoticization' and objectification of the models, just to name a few. A well comprehensive and developed resource for more info about how women are shown in advertising is the website of Scott A. Lukas, Ph.
D. The website has over 1500 printed ads as part of Lukas' "gender ads project", which compares all imaginable subjects, collected over several years of work. Lukas comments, "Women's bodies are objectified in common ways. In the case of many popular ads, the objectification of the woman occurs through the association of her being with her breasts. " Here it becomes clear on where the alleged problems come in. Women may only be depicted with parts of their bodies, like their legs or their chests, while men usually have their faces shown.
If both genders have faces, the male usually looks at the camera, while the female often looks another way. Some opinions seem to suggest that this makes us observers or voyeurs when it comes to the female, while we process the male face as something or somebody we can relate to. Lukas wrote on his website that, "When men and women appear in ads together, the women are often depicted as weaker than the male, either through composition of the ad or particular situations in the scene" .
Women often have their heads or faces covered or seem to have their mouths closed most of the time, while males have them open. This might suggests that the viewer does not need to care what the woman has to say, as long as she looks good. This is the more subtle approach in the objectification of women. The more obvious objectification is apparent when women's bodies are representing a product, for example a bottle of perfume or beer in the shape of a woman's body. In today's media driven, fast moving age, ads sell more than just products. They sell lifestyles and dreams.
Ads used to be simply a way of introducing a new product to the market or the masses, but even back then, woman were usually depicted in household settings or tending motherly duties. These days, ads sell images, ideas, even principles and ethics; however, the depiction of woman has not changed all that much, except the inclusion of sexual and more dramatic imagery. Do the advertisements reflect the evolution of women's place and role in society? In a way, we can assert that the advertisers knew how to adjust to the global evolution of the customs.
Moreover, the way advertising treats women nowadays is not only the reflection of the advertisers' misogyny. It reflects as well the hippie and feminist movements' failure: They asked for equality. As a matter of fact, women have not yet got it. And men? Do they got it? During the last years, diverse changes have modified the social constructions of gender. The masculinity is under a redefinition process. These changes have been widely studied, without paying attention to men issues. TV ads are a good issue to study male and female representations because they present codes and symbols thus establishing images in the society.
The "new man" is suffering an objectification of his body through the creation of new products and homosexual trends, changing from a "traditional man" image, based on physical strength and the patriarchal order, to a new man idea where his affection, eroticism and fashion, challenges the old images of men in television. With the rise of content and discourse analysis about gender in ads, feminists attempted to show how the female images were used as passive objects of the male gaze. Since feminism deals with the oppression of women by men where everything male was assumed to be the norm, men were frequently treated as if they had no gender.
In the struggle of women's submissive situation, they forgot the fact that not all men are the same, hence they created an ironic ''sex-role paradigm''. Thus, the feminist movement set in motion the masculinist movement where men deal with the oppression of men by objectification. During the last decade, the man has been changing his image in TV ads. Following the trend of the marketing strategies and creation of artificial needs, men are leaving the 'traditional' masculinity based on dominance, homophobia and self-mastery to a more flexible male image.
Television commercials have come a long way in how they depict men and male bodies. Over the last several years more and more naked men have been popping up in the television commercials, selling everything from cars to deodorants to shaving products to clothing to beverages Some scholars state that advertising has encouraged a ''feminization'' of culture, as it puts all potential consumers in the classic role of the female: submissive, seeing themselves as objects. The feminization of culture is evident in men's advertisements, where many of the promises made to women are now being made to men.
This seems to be more visible on printed ads, but how is it evidenced on TV ads? The new man has the ability to offer different sort of products in many ways. In contrast to the rigid and limited traditional man, the new man can be flexible and useful for a whole bunch of new products creating artificial needs, having an effect on the consumption. The new man is like a joker card: it can be used in almost any product ad always open to new possibilities to experience new situations. The mew man's roles help to identify the different performances played in TV ads. e can appreciate the majority of Fashion as the main role, seconded by Gay Oriented. Because of the self-expression the new man has for himself, Fashion, mainly related with ads of clothes or high-tech products, seems to be way where this statement is evidenced. TV ads presenting fashion roles do so in a metrosexual way where such elements as piercing, jewelry and trendy hair styles are used as well as Urban and Stylish clothes. Gay oriented roles were characterized by the exposure of naked bodies in a moderated way.
The traditional man is regularly superior in relation to women and less to man, equal to other male partners, and passive to women. Interesting is how the traditional man behave, when, for example, his wife or mother buys clothes for him -a traditional tan doesn't care what he is wearing because he is not interested in fashion. On the other hand, the new man is submissive more frequently to man and less to women, equal in terms of both sexes. Also superior in relation to woman and less to men. The new man has also new ways of power.
It is not strength but intelligence and money what makes him powerful. Intelligence here is used as the capability to use his mind and ideas to overcome situations, where money is the use of luxury or other means of wealth. Beauty applies as well for the new man, especially when it comes to fashion issues where he can use his clothes and personal appearance to do and get what he wants. This use of ''new power'' for men allows them to find and define their masculinity in a different way than the traditional aggressive behavior.
This is probably resulting of the increase of capitalism in our attitude, where money and the advantages it brings -as fashion and beauty- take an important place in the social construction of the new man. The images of masculinity in TV ads are not monolithic and static, but rather diverse and changing. The traditional man, representation of the patriarchal order, is being challenged by a new nan image. This new man is characterized by a rupture of the respectful father-son relationship, looking for freedom to express its emotions and with liberty to selfexpression, and self-satisfaction.
It is also the joker card as it plays in situations where the traditional man cannot fit. This study concentrated on stereotypes associated with women and man in advertisements. The images of Man are changing, and the new man has arrived to stay. It is challenging the old traditional man with new trends and images as it is by now more represented in the TV ads. This challenge to patriarchal order does not mean a rupture with a male-dominated industry as women remain under represented and in submissive positions.
Further research should look at the impact of this whole era of Fashion, Beauty and Money in the consumption behaviour to evaluate how far the advertisements can control our lives. While this research examined current portrayal of women in television commercials, there are still many areas which have not been studied. While stereotyping exists and is pervasive in our media we do not know if it is pervasive in other countries. Little research has been done studying the stereotypes in other parts of the world. Future research could investigate this possibility.