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Sex Sells

Final project for GWST 3000 Spring 2010

Heather Hutchins

on 27 April 2010

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Transcript of Sex Sells

Sex Sells: Sexism in the Media
"The Pause that refreshes." Coca Cola Ad - 1934
Ad portrays a male and female enjoying a Coke.
Both are in uniform.
Notice: There is no suggestive context. What are the effects of a over-sexualized media? Sexualization: Girls & Women:
eating disorders
low self-esteem
depression "The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of the people who look on and do nothing."
Albert Einstein Advertisers use:
television commercials
to sell their product. “Jackson Katz, who writes and lectures on male violence, often begins his workshops by asking men to describe the things they do every day to protect themselves from sexual assault. The men are surprised, puzzled, sometimes amused by the question. The women understand the question easily and have no trouble at all coming up with a list of responses.”
Jean Kilbourne, "Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel"

Evolution of sexism in advertisements:
"Impress her with a big one." Dr. Pepper Ad - 1990s
Ad depicts a voluptuous female in a sexually charged posture with a suggestive tagline.
Ad is marketing a beverage product. Louis Vuitton Ad - 2007
Ad is of celebrity Scarlett Johansson, in her underwear, swinging on a rope.
The ad is marketing a new line of purses for the designer. The selling of sex is illegal in the United States but using sex to promote sales is not.

Advertisers have been using sex to sell their products for decades. Only the level and type of sexuality used has changed. During the 1960s and 1970s, early feminists noted that there were several female stereotypes represented in advertisements (Gill 2007). Of those stereotypes represented there was
"the dumb blonde, the unintelligent housewife, the passive sex object..." (Gill 2007).
During the 1980s, the housewife became the main focus with most of the advertisements being centered on a female in the home (Gill 2007). Appearance and beauty became centrally important in advertisements. Women were usually portrayed as unknowledgeable whereas men were shown to be independent and knowledgeable about the object sold (Gill 2007). "Pornographic poses, sadomasochism, bondage. These have all become regular parts of the iconography of advertising in the early 21st century."
Rosalind Gill, "Supersexualize Me"

Game Boy Pocket by Nintendo. 1990s
This ad is geared toward adolescent boys. Examples of simulated violence against women in advertisements: In conclusion: Since the inception of a media dependent world in the twentieth century, movies, advertisements, and television shows have all helped to develop gender stereotypes. Marketing executives seem to have decided that the more sexualized their product is marketed as, the more focus they gain for their product. An advertisement such as one of a scantily clad woman in a sexually provocative pose gives the viewers more than they bargained for when the advertisement is simply marketing a new pair of women’s running shoes (Gill 2007). The sexualized images that are being created are causing countless issues for women such as influencing behavior in young boys and girls, contributing to women’s body issues, and domestic violence. Mass media is defined by Debra Spitulnik as “the electronic media of radio, television, film, and recorded music, and the print media of newspapers, magazines, and popular culture” (293). Mass media is a part of everyday life, including economics and politics (Spitulnik 293). Basically, the media tells Americans what they should buy, how they should act, who they should vote for, and what political views they should have. What do the images the media projects of women to the American people tell the viewers about how women are supposed to act in the private and public sector? By Heather Hutchins How many advertisements does the average American see in one day? More than 3000, which equates to about three years of the average American's life spent watching commercials (Kilbourne 1999).
Ways to resist media influence: In her article "Advertising: Women's Place and Image - a new 'generation' of images to women," Linda Lazier-Smith even compares education and organized religion’s level of influence to the influence that advertising has on the public (1989). Kilbourne says "Advertisements don’t directly cause violence... but the violent images contribute to the state of terror. Turning a human being into a thing, an object, is almost always the first step towards justifying violence against that person… This step is already taken with women. The violence, the abuse, is partly the chilling but logical result of the objectification" (Kilbourne 1999; Gil 1999) Representation: Kathryn Woodward said, "Representation works symbolically to classify the world and our relationships within it. There is an association between the identity of the person and the things a person uses” (9). Mass Media: More often than not, the imagery used to sell a product has nothing to do with the product itself. Advertisers use these methods in order to attract potential consumers in a supersaturated media world (Kilbourne 1999).
In Irving Goffman’s book, Gender Advertisements, he was interested in how our concepts of what behaviors are masculine and feminine are mirrored and fashioned by advertising (1979). Goffman conducted his research by obtaining advertisements from various magazines and from those he was able to deduce that women are constantly shown as subordinates to men (1979). This means that women in advertisements were depicted as passive, childlike, and subservient to their male counterparts (Goffman 1979; Gill 2007). "Hold that tiger, Tiger!" University Row - 1970s
This advertisement is a new line of men's button down shirts from University Row Manhattan.
Notice the woman is shown as a captive of the man. This follows along with Goffman's theory of women's subordination in the media.
In Melissa Milkie’s article, "Social Comparisons, Reflected Appraisals, and Mass Media: The Impact of Pervasive Beauty Images on Black and White Girls’ Self Concepts", she discusses how impractical beauty images and focusing on traditional femininity constructed by women’s magazines may cause young girls to have a distorted self-image (191). Girls are seeing images of women on magazine covers and in advertisements that have been digitally altered to appear perfect. Other women depicted in ads go to drastic means, such as anorexia and bulimia, in order to achieve ‘perfection’. Girls and women are constantly bombarded with these images of false beauty and they begin to believe that they would not be considered beautiful unless they look like the women in the advertisements (Milkie 191). "It's a wifesaver!" Brown range Ad -1970s
The ad is directly marketed toward women's use. "Marilyn Monroe discovers the world's most glamorous makeup..." Westmore Hollywood Cosmetics - 1950s
Ad showcases quintessential blonde bombshell of the 1950s.
The advertisement is for the Tru-Glo line of liquid make-up.
The American Psychological Association has been actively working towards cleaning up the media for the benefit of child development (2007). The APA released a report in 2004 that focused on how advertising affects child development and concluded that restrictions should be placed on advertisements that are primarily geared toward adolescents (2007). In the APA’s 2007 Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, the authors gave several recommendations for combating the over-sexualized media of today:
Media literacy programs in schools
Sex education
Extracurricular activities
Support groups (family, peer, religious) is characterized as the act or process of sexualizing (Gill 2007). Advertisements' sexual content are exposing younger and younger girls to sex prematurely (APA 2007). Research has shown that this type of exposure can have a negative impact on girls' "self image and mental development" (APA 2007). (Killing Us Softly 2010) (TV Advertising - Sexist? 2009) Today's advertisements, however, have implemented an entirely new trend in using sex to sell. Dr. Rosalind Gill calls this type of advertising “cropping” (2007). A woman’s body is only shown in pieces and this action results in dehumanizing the woman. Gill discusses how the “cropping” effect reinforces ordinary women seeing their parts as a set of problems that require a specific product to treat each part (2007). Objectification: How many advertisements have you seen focused on just a woman’s lips, breast, buttocks, legs, face, etc.? Removing women’s humanity in advertisements leads to other problems than just self-image issues. It can also lead to domestic violence. When men see women dehumanized in advertisements, it can cause men to begin to objectify women in everyday life as well (APA 2007: Gill 2007). Language and images make up the symbolic systems Woodward was discussing (3). When a person purchases a product, the product itself says something about the purchaser. Advertisers conduct studies on who buys their product and then the advertisers come up with an identity to associate with them (Woodward 3). For example, a woman is more likely to purchase cleaning products than a man is. Therefore, advertisers gear their ads toward the identity associated with their consumers (Woodward 3). Based on Woodward’s research, it appears that people are more likely to purchase a product they can identify with (3-4). How does this relate to the sexualization of advertisements? Woodward explains that, “Sexual identities, for example, are represented through cultural texts and symbolic systems which are subjected to regulatory systems of which they also form part" (3). Whether a sexual identity is socially acceptable or not, depends on the categorization of sexuality at that time (Woodward 3). (The Axe Effect, Oct. 2006) (The Axe Effect, Feb. 2006) "If you like the front... " Gillette Razor Ad - 2006
Ad depicts a model in a barely there bikini showcasing a man's razor.
Notice: the sexual posturing. In the following presentation, you will learn about how advertisers began using sex to sell their products, what the current problems associated with an over-sexualized media are, and possible solutions. Dow Metal by Dow Chemicals. Advertisement. 1960s.
This ad represents an identity advertisers use to market their product.
Notice the gender stereotyping going on? Coffee by Chase and Sanborn Coffee. Advertisement. 1950s.
What message does this ad send to young girls and boys?
Full transcript