The Portrayal Of Women In Advertising

2760 words - 11 pages

Women – beautiful, strong matriarchal forces that drive and define a portion of the society in which we live – are poised and confident individuals who embody the essence of determination, ambition, beauty, and character. Incomprehensible and extraordinary, women are persons who possess an immense amount of depth, culture, and sophistication. Society’s incapability of understanding the frame of mind and diversity that exists within the female population has created a need to condemn the method in which women think and feel, therefore causing the rise of “male-over-female” domination – sexism. Sexism is society’s most common form of discrimination; the need to have gender based separation reveals our culture’s reluctance to embrace new ideas, people, and concepts. This is common in various aspects of human life – jobs, households, sports, and the most widespread – the media. In the media, sexism is revealed through the various submissive, sometimes foolish, and powerless roles played by female models; because of these roles women have become overlooked, ignored, disregarded – easy to look at, but so hard to see.
In many clothing advertisements, particularly jeans and lingerie ads, women are used as the main subjects to entice the viewer to notice the ad and most importantly, be excited about the product. In one photo, Calvin Klein Jeans promotes its clothing through what seems to be unwilling, reluctant sexual activity – rape. The advertisement displays the woman resisting the man with the palm of her right hand, and she is pulling her shirt down to cover her stomach with her left hand; yet he is still pursuing her and attempting to remove her top. Her body language and gaze – devoid of emotion – reveal that she is not interested in having sexual intercourse with the man straddling her. The ad is encouraging and conveying a message that it is acceptable to pursue a woman even though she refuses or does not wish to engage in sexual activity. One might also say that the women appears to be somewhat lifeless, and she could be thought of as being dead; such an interpretation promotes not only violence, but also necrophilism – an erotic attraction to or sexual contact with corpses. By advertising such an intolerable and debilitating act it represents that society is comfortable with and accommodating of rape, violence, and the murdering of women; in a sense the picture is mocking all of these harmful actions or crimes. This picture describes only one aspect of sexism in advertising – submissive women whose only purpose is to satisfy or pleasure their male counterparts.

Unlike the first image, this JCPenney advertisement conveys the idea of rape in a more subtly way. Although a man is not present in the picture, the words on the picture communicate that it is customary to disregard a woman if she says “no”, especially when it comes to sex. The clever phrase: “contrary to popular belief, red doesn’t have to mean stop” is suggestive because...

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