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Visual Images Reinforce Traditional Gender And Sexuality Stereotypes

1272 words - 5 pages

Visual images reinforce traditional gender and sexuality stereotypes through the manifestation of the masculine and feminine miens. An examination of print media advertisements highlights the social and cultural ideologies associated with traditional gender roles that are expected and imposed on by society.

“Advertisements are deeply woven into the fabric of Western Culture, drawing on and reinforcing commonly held perceptions and beliefs” of gender and sexuality stereotypes. They have a strong role in shaping society by reflecting, reinforcing and perpetuating traditional societal values and attitudes towards gender roles and identities. The visual images displayed in advertisements are “often absorbed into peoples learned expectation of individuals, comprising various groups, and therefore have the ability to sway individuals perceptions of and interactions with others” . These stereotypical representations of men and women depicted in advertisements invoke gender identities and reinforce societal values and attitudes towards gender roles. Renowned Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman stated that the stereotypical portrayal of gender “insinuates its way into our collective cultural consciousness, even our individual psyches, normalising certain traits associated with masculinity and femininity, men and women, and impacting upon how we frame and define gender and sexual difference in contemporary consumer culture” . This opinion reinforces the notion that the visual images utilised in advertisements reinforce traditional gender and sexuality stereotypes through the depiction of characteristics traditionally associated with masculinity and femininity.

The inherent gender dichotomies apparent in society are reinforced through the portrayal of the feminine form in print media. The notion of ‘The Carnal Female’ as explored by Stevens and Ostberg in Gendered Bodies: Representations of Femininity and Masculinity in Advertising is evident in an exploration of the Godiva Chocolate Advertisement (Appendix One). The advertisement depicts a beautiful young woman laying on her back with a chocolate placed on her chest. The combination of sexual suggestiveness and food consumption presented in the advertisement draws “clear parallels between food consumption and sexual surrender” . The advertisement exemplifies the traditional gender role ideology that women are ‘consummate consumers’ who are “ruled by their bodily appetites and inability to resist the lure of carnal pleasure” . The female character encapsulates characteristics traditionally associated with femininity. She is captured sensually laying on a bed with her hands draped seductively on her chest, signifying her sexual availability and amplifying the common societal belief that women are to be gazed upon with desire by men. Her surrender to temptation by consuming the pleasurable product emphasises the traditional perception of female weakness. The notion of the male gaze as defined by Sturken...

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