Well, not really....a critical (and hopefully witty and humorous) view of gender,
race, and pop culture.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sexual Images in Advertising

Sex in Advertising

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Advertisers objectify both men and women as both subtle and overtly sexual images for the sole purpose of selling their products, devaluing and dehumanizing both in the process.

Women, and men as well, are placed in advertisements, not to display the functionality of the product being marketed, but more likely for the purpose of attracting readers to the advertisement. This is especially evident in the advertisement above for Old Spice. Now, a young woman wearing next to nothing fly-fishing in a river does not scream “Buy Old Spice!!” to me, so why is the main part of the advertisement the woman? To attract the attention of men. This kind of advertising was pioneered by Esquire magazine, which for the first time presented images “to be consumed on their own, creating a distance in production of meaning between textual and visual contents” (Breazeale 235). Advertisers figure that if they can draw your attention to their ad by providing a sexual image (which has nothing to do with what they are selling), men will associate the product with the image, making them more likely to purchase the product if they see it in stores. By doing so, advertisers are demeaning both men and women. For males, advertisers are making the statement that men are not intelligent enough to differentiate between a good product and a product that they associate with sexual imagery. As for women, images of females are placed in advertisements merely for their beauty, intended to be the objects of male lust and attraction.

Sexualized images are not always blatantly obvious, but are often subtly placed. Take, for example, the advertisement in the middle of the collage for a new 8 blade razor. Wait, what’s that? It’s not for a razor, but for beer? Who knew. The intended main attraction of this ad is without a doubt the man who is shaving and pulling a glass of beer with his razor. On the mans chest and going onto his arm is a string of circles, detailing what each blade can do, such as incision, serration, mulching, exfoliating, and waxing. It is obvious that these descriptions are fake and are meant to attract the male consumer by employing masculine concepts to the product, such as using the term “mulching” to relate the razor to a lawn mower. As stated by Kirkham and Weller, “the names of the male products…incorporate more rough, tough, and vigorous qualities, in an attempt to validate the products within a range of masculinities acceptable to the type of purchaser (male and female) the firm wishes to attract” (272). This advertisement also takes it a step further, using the terms “exfoliating” and “waxing”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but these terms are not being used to state the function of the product, but to poke fun at female products. But then again, when you finally get past the sexual imagery and insinuating text in this ad, you find out that the company is advertising beer, not razors. The ad states: “Smooth, like no other”.

Haha. Very witty.

Works Cited

Breazeale, Kenon. “In Spite of Women.” Signs 20.1 (1994): 1-22. Rpt. in Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. Ed. Gail Dines and Jean M Humez. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2003. 230-243.

Kirkham, Pat, and Alex Weller. “Cosmetics: A Clinique Case Study.” The Gendered Object. Mahchester, UK: Manchester UP, 1996. Rpt. in Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. Ed. Gail Dines and Jean M Humez. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2003. 268-273.