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Copy of Gender Portrayal in Advertising

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Jill Boeschenstein

on 7 October 2016

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Transcript of Copy of Gender Portrayal in Advertising

The 1950’s were a time when sexism was not just considered normal; it was encouraged. Women in advertisements were shown primarily in their roles as wives and mothers. With the end of World War II, men were returning home to reclaim their place in society, and the women that had stepped in during their abscence returned to their domestic chores.
Regardless of what was being advertised, women were almost always shown looking extremenly happy while completing a domestic task.
This ad for an anti-depressant claims that by taking Mornidine, a woman can get back to enjoying her life as a caretaker.
The advertisements that did not focus on domestic chores, highlighted, or exaggerated, the female form.

The text associated with these advertisements almost always makes reference to the idea that women are to be in the home, cooking, cleaning, or doing various other household chores. The basic idea being that they will be more attractive to men if they are performing one of the stereotypically “female” activities.
The 1950's
In commercials, women went to great lengths to please their men and fulfill their domestic duties.

Men in 1950's advertisements were presented as the "man of the house". He was in charge of discipline and bringing home the bacon. Many advertisements showed the husband dominating his wife as was expected for this time period.
In the last decade much has changed in commercial advertising and its depiction of gender roles due to progressive social movements and media watchdog groups like the Women's Media Center (WMC) and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). But despite these efforts, many stereotypes still exist. Sometimes they are met with opposition and sometimes they go unchallenged.
Examining contemporary images with regard to Social Comparison Theory provides viewers the ability to evaluate what gender roles are being portrayed and if these are pro-social and progressive or if they are stereotypical and limiting in their depiction of normative prescribed standards.

Shaping the Decade

2000 – the Present
In the last decade much has changed in commercial advertising and its depiction of gender roles due to progressive social movements and media watchdog groups like the Women's Media Center (WMC) and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). But despite these efforts, many stereotypes still exist. Sometimes they are met with opposition and sometimes they go unchallenged.

Examining contemporary images with regard to Social Comparison Theory provides viewers the ability to evaluate what gender roles are being portrayed and if these are pro-social and progressive or if they are stereotypical and limiting in their depiction of normative prescribed standards.
As with marketing in the past, toys are often promoted as being gender specific
There has, however been a push from other manufacturers to send messages that celebrate equal ability and social cues that promote varied capabilities. One such company is, “GoldieBlox” which designs building blocks aimed specifically at girls.
The company explains on their website, “ our goal is to get girls building. ..In a world where men largely outnumber women in science, technology, engineering and math...and girls lose interest in these subjects as early as age 8, GoldieBlox is determined to change the equation. Construction toys develop an early interest in these subjects, but for over a hundred years, they've been considered "boys' toys". By designing a construction toy from the female perspective, we aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers. We believe there are a million girls out there who are engineers. They just might not know it yet. We think GoldieBlox can show them the way.” Products and adverting campaigns may provide girls with more positive comparisons for them to identify with rather than ones that limit them to prescribed roles.
Despite growing societal support of the LGBT community, there continue to be commercials and marketing campaigns that portray them in ways that use Gender Role Stereotyping for laughs. Images like this can be detrimental to those who identify as LGBT and look for representation with which to compare themselves. The Mars Corporation pulled this UK advertisement after they received criticism by the Human Rights Campaign with complaints that the ad perpetuated "the notion that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is a group of second class citizens and that violence against GLBT people is not only acceptable, but humorous". (The Telegraph UK, July 28, 2008)

Some commercials are met with little opposition despite being potentially offensive to other groups, such as this one from AT&T. This plays on the stereotype of the less-than-intelligent husband who needs the simplest of things explained to him by a woman who better resembles a mother with a child, than an equal partner in the relationship. One reason why the “dumb male” stereotype may persist is because of the nature of Hegemony that places men at the top of the societal power structures. Some people may consider playful pokes at their expense acceptable and worthy of downward comparisons on the part of women. What do you think?
The 1960s
The '60s was a "coming of age" era influenced by the cultural and social changes occurring. The youth culture was slowly adopting a more liberal, hippie lifestyle that promoted equality and change. Birth control was approved by the FDA, and it allowed women more freedom in her choice to reproduce or not. Political changes were occuring as well, and the previous attitudes society held toward war, race, gender, age, tradition and authority were ever changing. On the positive side, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have A Dream" speech, and the Civil Rights Act was passed. But on the negative side, John F. Kennedy was assassinated as well as Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. It was not the first time people would make their voices and opinions heard, and it was certainly not the last either.
The advertising world was also turning a new leaf. Since there were so many mass produced goods, people were more than willing to spend their dollar. Advertisers found a way to keep the consumers happy so that they would continue to spend. With the revolution of advertising came more modern styles of formatting such as larger images, minimal use of copy, and a more realistic appearance. Humor and irony were also becoming more common. And even though women were still viewed as homemakers, they were also beginning to be looked at as sexual objects.
“Keep her where she belongs…”
Though the second wave of feminism was in full swing, women were still viewed as below men in social status, and this ad shows just that as the woman is literally on the floor, staring at a shoe, admiring it because she is materialistic and her husband just bought it for her because he’s the one with the money because he is the breadwinner.
It may sound a little extreme, but it is precisely what is so easily perceived.

Women took on another role of being unintelligent. The combination of women and driving is the butt of many a joke today.
Surprise! It seems to have always been a joke. Women are often identified as unable to operate such complex machinery such as a manual car (or any car for that matter), so keep it simple for them and they’ll be alright with no one harmed on the trip to the grocery store. Unfortunately in this ad, the woman’s face looks like she’s already gotten into an accident…

The men got to take on a more successful role as the working man who earned his wages and was tougher than all the rest.
First and foremost, this ad subtly screams, "Go get smart,
"Its handling is authoritative - "

From a young age, boys are told they must be a man, and society said that if you were a man then you have power. In all situations...including if they own this car...especially in the 50s and 60s.
Boys would look at this ad and see a sleek, shiny car and read the header, "Separates the men from the boys" and they may not need any more convincing than that. But without reading the copy they could still be influenced to look tough or to be tough.
An ad for a sophisticated working man…
Men were the head of the household, but this ad slightly indicates that they weren’t the ones doing the complicated laundry or ironing.
Although it implies that the women are the homemakers, it also implies that the men don’t have the skill to do much more than soak their suit in soap and water. But then it recovers itself by suggesting that men are too busy being smart and making a living that they just don’t have time to do things such as laundry…
Again, maybe a little extreme, but also exactly what is being perceived.

Even children were being placed under gender roles. Take a look at this next ad and ask yourself what you think. There isn't an obvious answer, but it does make you question.
“Show her you love her anyway”
This little girl shouldn’t have been playing baseball because she was wearing a brand new dress. Maybe she could have been careful to not get it dirty, but the big boys can get dirty because they aren’t wearing a pretty party dress? Her face appears to be worried and in trouble.
A child is going to play in the dirt whether boy or girl. This ad subtly indicates that girls don’t get dirty and they are instead prim and proper.

The 1990's were years of unrest and uncertainty in the
United States and the World.
The decade started off with the U.S. entering the Gulf War in 1990. The next year the Soviet Union collapsed. Americans watched in horror as the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed in 199 and when a bomb went off at the Olympic Park in Atlanta in 1996. Columbine, Colorado was in the news in 1999 after two students opened fire in the high school.
The 1990's
Ads from the 1990's reinforce gender roles and
stereotypes and bring back the 1950's ideals that
women should take care of the home and family while
men were given the role of builder, protector and
provider. This was especially prevalent in advertising
aimed at young children.
These events made many
people question if there was
any place in the world that
was safe. The one place
people did feel safe was
in their home.

The journal article
Gender Stereotypes in

Advertising on Children's Television in the 1990s: A Cross-National Analysis
by Beverly A. Browne found that in advertisements aimed at young children:
“Boys were shown as being more instrumental and more often engaged in behaviors that created action on the part of the advertised item than girls. They were more likely to push, pull, or press buttons to engage mechanisms, and manipulate or construct objects skillfully. Generally, boys were portrayed as more effective, more able to make things work, and, in ads featuring games of competition, more frequently "winning" than girls. Girls were more likely than boys to be shown caressing objects or touching them gently.”
This reinforces the gender stereotype that women
nurture and men take care of everything else.
Ads for children’s toys from the 1990's were clearly
defining the roles of boys and girls:
Girls take care
of home…
...and family
Boys do everything else…
Play sports...
And protect the world.
Adults were also relegated to specific roles in advertising
during the 1990’s. According to Scott Coltrane, in the article
The Perpetuation of Subtle Prejudice:

“1990s television commercials tend to portray White men as powerful, White women as sex objects, African American men as aggressive, and African American women as inconsequential. In general, women characters have been more likely to be shown in the home, with men more likely to be shown outside or in occupational roles. Research consistently documents how television commercials present conventional gender stereotypes, with women shown as young, thin, sexy, smiling, acquiescent, provocative, and available. Men characters, in contrast, tend to be shown as knowledgeable, independent, powerful, successful, and tough.”
Women as sex objects
This ad is selling a rug.
By showing it wrapped
around a woman they
are using sex appeal and
also sending the subtle
message that women are
home accessories.
The Jacuzzi company had several
ads during the 1990's that used naked
women to sell bathroom fixtures.
Can you tell what is
for sale in this ad?

Believe it or not, it is the
chandelier. The advertised
item is secondary to the
woman in the ad.
Men in 1990's advertising was very much
like young boys in ads from this time frame.
They were portrayed as adventurous, strong
and capable.
The man and boy featured in this
1992 Lufthansa Airlines ad continue the
theme of men as adventurous.
The ultimate strong man, the cowboy, was still being
featured in Marlboro ads all through the 1990's.
Even smoking a Marlboro Light was
portrayed as masculine
The Kohler company used
the image of a nurturing
woman with a baby to
sell bathtubs in 1993.
Works Cited
"1940s Timeline." About.com 20th Century History. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Dec. 2013

Advertising Age. (2003, September 15). History: 1960s. Retrieved from http://adage.com/article/adage-encyclopedia/history-1960s/98702/

Browne, Beverly A. "Gender Stereotypes in Advertising on Children's Television in the 1990s: A Cross-National Analysis." Journal of Advertising 27.1 (1998): 83- 96. Web.

Business Pundit. “10 Most Sexist Print Ads from the 1950s”. 6 April 2010. 5 March 2013 <http://www.businesspundit.com/10-most-sexist-print-ads-from-the-1950s

Coltrane, Scott, and Melinda Messineo. "The Perpetuation Of Subtle Prejudice: Race And Gender Imagery In 1990S Television Advertising." Sex Roles 42.5/6 (2000): 363-389. Web.

Goodwin, S. (1999). 1940-1949. American Cultural History. Lone Star College- Kingwood Library, Kingwood, TX. Retrieved from http://wwwappskc.lonestar.edu/

Keko, D. (2010, April 11). Top 10 historical moments of the 1960s. Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/top-10-historical-moments-of-the-1960s

lindm049. (2012, February 26). Advertising between 1960-2012: How much have consumers changed?. Retrieved from http://blog.lib.umn.edu/meyer769/psy_1001/2012/02/advertising-between-1960-2012-how-much-have-consumers-changed.html

Marinica, Adriana. “Print Ads through the Decades: The ‘50s”. 17 January 2011. 5 March 2013. <http://www.crazyleafdesign.com/blog/print-ads-through-the-decades-the-50s/>

Rosenberg, J. (n.d.). 1960s timeline: Timeline of the 20th century. Retrieved from http://history1900s.about.com/od/timelines/tp/1960timeline.htm

Shaggylocks. How to Please Your Man: Sexist Coffee Commercial. Online videoclip. YouTube.com. 11 November 2013.

Walsh, K. T. (2010, March 12). The 1960s: A decade of change for women. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2010/03/12/the-1960s-a-decade-of-change-for-women

Courtney Jenkins. (2011, March 22). Coca Cola Advertising. Advertising in the 1980s. Retrieved from http://cocacoladvertising.blogspot.com/2011/03/advertising-in-1980s.html

Beautiful Life. (2009, April 29). History of Coca Cola in Advertising. The 1980s. Retrieved from http://www.beautifullife.info/advertisment/history-of-coca-cola-in-ads/

Brett Lamb. (2013, April 28). Gender Roles in 1980s America. Representations of Gender in Magazines. The 1980s. Retrieved from http://lessonbucket.com/vce-media/units-3-4/media-texts-and-societys-values/gender-in-1980s-america/

Gender roles in advertising have certainly evolved over the past few decades. The earlier generations starting in the 40-60s women were definitely shown as submissive, housewives, and caretakers of the home. The men are almost always used to advertise anything rough, tough, and adventurous. Showing a "boy" evolving into a "man" they must be smart and successful.
However evolving some these old stereotypes, we have begun to take notice that new stereotypes are emerging. Starting to see this change around the early 90's women are now shown as sex objects, and the objectification of the woman's body being used in many ads. The male roles have also switched. Especially in comedy men are being shown as dumb and incompetent.
The social comparison theory has been increasingly used in quantitative aspects of gender roles w

The 1980's
Coca Cola advertising
Throughout the 1980’s, Coca-Cola maintained a positive and family friendly brand image in its advertising.
The commercial portrays mirroring scenes of men and women as musicians, athletes and students. But it also injects a brief moment of masculinity with a clip of uniformed Marines.
In a 2:1 ratio, the video showed an average of 10 scenes with men and an average of 5 scenes with women. Throughout the whole video, there were only three scenes that showed both genders together on near equal ground:
Students at graduation
Romantic couple
Coca Cola continued...
This ad appeals to men because it shows a man drinking a Coke atop of a Jeep (an explorer vehicle) with man's best friend, the dog. It also invokes a sense of patriotism during the Cold War (1947 - 1991) between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. because of the accompanying text that reads "Red, White & You."
This ad appeals to both men and women and also targets the black community. Upon further inspection, it appears to swap the gender roles in the home. The assumed husband is wearing the apron and he appears to be pouring a glass of Coke for his wife, who is wearing business attire, as she excitedly surveys the meal.
Notice how Coca Cola depicts gender in this 1985 commercial.
In the 1980s, magazines and advertisements increasingly started representing women working alongside men in business and industry, reflecting dominant values towards equality during this period. The magazine Working Mother is a good example of a publication that prominently featured these sort of representations.
President Nixon signed legislation officially banning cigarette advertisements on television and radio in April 1970.

The last televised cigarette commercial ran at 11:50 p.m. during The Johnny Carson Show in January 1971.

The 1940's

Men were shown in magazines and the media as soldiers while women were shown as nurses or at home, waiting for their significant others to return home from war

Main subject in American media during this period was World War II

Women were not allowed to fight, but helped on the battlefield as nurses, clerks, mail sorters, etc.

1941: World War II- Japanese Attacks Peal Harbor
Women begin to take jobs that were typically occupied by men so men could fight in the war

Changed the face of women in the workplace because of the absence of men
Gender Portrayal in the Media
During this time period fashion was not to revealing or racy.

Women wore traditional, conservative clothing (dresses and skirts) and men wore suits.

Cowboys became iconic figures in cigarette ads in 1972…

But that didn’t stop print advertisements…
Post-World War II

Women resumed their wifely duties, some women were even told by their employers to go back home

Lower paying jobs for women as men returned from war to resume their higher paying jobs

This temporary change in responsibilities altered the way women were viewed in America’s society
The same year John Wayne’s The Cowboys was released.

Women took a more sensual approach to cigarettes…
...as well as other products.
They get out and explore…
Social Comparison Theory: Created by Leon Festinger, this theory states that people gauge their potential by comparing themselves to other people.

This theory can be applied to gender roles in advertisements throughout the last 7 decades. The way one gender was portrayed influenced the capabilities of the other. Advertisements are included from the 1940's to the present day. We feel these ads were driving forces behind the gender roles of their respective time.
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