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Rhetorical Analysis

1547 words - 7 pages

“Towards a New Paradigm in the Ethics of Advertising” is a scholarly essay written by John Alan Cohan. Cohan aims to identify the unethical ways women are portrayed in advertising today. This essay explains common ways that women are exploited in advertising and why is each is hurtful and wrong. Then after outlining the unjust practices in women’s advertising, Cohan call for a “paradigm shift” in advertising, where he claims that ads can still be profitable, without harming women in the process (323). Cohan in writing this essay recognizes that women are being misrepresented and harmed by ads. He feels that this issue needs to be brought to advertisers attention, his main audience, and hopes for women’s representation in ads will be healed.
To start off Cohan’s essay, he opens up on a positive note, as to ease the reader into the rather immoral issue of exploiting women in advertising. He firsts notes that there is “a good deal of good advertising” out there (Cohan 323). He provides the example of Lancome cosmetics, which unlike many other companies, is making a conscious effort to not heavily touch up their models. Cohan goes onto connect this seemingly encouraging example of advertising, to his main claim that advertisers need to “establish images that encourage you to ‘find your own beauty’, rather than images of unattainable, idealized, perfection” (323). He provides this example, opposite to what his paper will actually be about for two reasons. First off, he wants to establish what needs to be done in women’s advertising is much like what is already being done by Lancome, but one a larger scale. Then at the same time, he has already acknowledged the counter argument that he foresaw may be used against his argument, even making his claims irrelevant because some advertisers have already made this positive women advertising shift. But instead, through Cohan bringing up this other side he proves that little advancement has yet to be made, one company is not representative of the advertisers as a whole. Since this change in women’s advertising is only on a small scale, he refutes the prior progress as to little, and shows why women’s advertising still needs to be further addressed.
After acknowledging that not all advertising is bad (324), Cohan moves on to evaluate the meat of his argument; why women’s advertising is often unethical. He discusses his moral concerns of women’s advertising. Advertisements promote a quest for material gain, false values (such as if you buy this product you will be a good person), the advocating of physical appetites (sex), bypass rational thinking (urging you to smoke despite lung cancer risk), provide entertainment for susceptible views (warp there thought unknowingly), and are often not truthful (Cohan 324, 325). Each type of advertising concern is backed up by well known worldly examples. Referring back to Cohan’s claim that ads promote material gain for happiness, he provides the example “Advertising often...

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