The ethical issues that permeate the world of advertising have remained stagnant for decades, though the exact nature Of the ads may have changed in and of themselves; however much current ads portraying women in our modern times may differ from contemporary ads that portrayed women during the sass, the end result remains that women continue to be marginalia into a specific subset of society or to be completely visualized as a mere Object, possessing qualities or faults that can increase or depreciate their value and worth.
As a Communications major hailing from Haiti, I recognize the importance of a nation possessing a thriving advertisement industry. In Haiti, people do not have a voice; journalists oft disappear whence they voice an opinion that goes against the views Of the leading political party and businesses do not have the media necessary to reach a large audience in order to promote their products.
Having a voice is essential; how that voice is broadcasted, however, is pivotal in determining my stance in the following study on the social ramifications and negative connotations that an be attributed to gender typed advertisements. Though women constitute a larger share than men in visibility in the world of advertisements, their portrayal in said advertisements is downright appalling and may have an adverse effect not only on women in society but also on the men. What exactly is gender typed advertising?
When questioned, most people believe gender typed advertising can fall into two categories: advertisements showcasing women in highly domesticated roles/environments (advertisements featuring women doing housework whilst wearing heels and lowing skirts that further heighten their sense of femininity) and advertisements overtly equalizing women (advertisements featuring a woman who is highly sexualities through a homogeneity male gaze) (Mulled, 2009). Those answers are indeed correct.
Yet, gender-typed advertisement has become much more subtle. The answers given by the participants in Mullets research only encompass advertisements that have manifest meanings. Gender typed advertising has grown much more subtle in recent years, making it far more difficult to determine which advertisements could e dubbed as being inherently “sexist”. Furthermore, gender typed constitutes advertising that depicts stereotypical gender roles; thus, the term is not limited solely to Women.
Advertisements nowadays contain latent meanings that can be lost on the public yet still manage to lodge themselves in their brain and alter their perception of what defines masculinity and femininity. In 2010, Trident White released an ad that featured an attractive woman smiling up through her car window at a police officer, flashing her pearly whites, with the tagging “35% more Straightforwardness” Maxilla, 2010). On the surface, the ad seems comedic in nature. Nevertheless, its latent meaning is that to obtain what she wants out of life, a woman has to use her looks and gender.
At first, it may appear that the woman is the one in a position Of power in the advertisement; on closer inspection, it can be noticed that only the arm and the badge of the police officer are visible. The hairy arm signifies the domineering sense of masculinity present in the advertisement and the badge signals to the onlooker that the police officer is in fact the one in a position of power; he is he one waiting to be impressed. Since his face is not showing, any man in society could substitute themselves into the image, standing above and evaluating the woman’s worth and ensuing treatment through her looks.
Images such as this populate the field of advertisement. Many decry the overtly sexist images in our media, ignoring the ones that have more subtext and are thus more likely to be absorbed. The effects of these sorts of media on the public are often downplayed, for most refuse to believe that anybody would ever buy into those sorts of images. As Mullets research indicates, cost of the people who were in line with such a train of thought constituted belonged to generations past. In their days, the power of the media was still mostly limited to magazines.
The presence of those sexist advertisements was not widely felt because they only had a limited amount of medium to reach the public. Nowadays, an advertisement can travel through different channels, hence the increase in scholarly studies focused on demanding better ethical standards to be held for businesses and their advertising practices. The goal of those studies is indeed to create better advertising raciest and prevent further damage in the populace resulting from gender typed advertisements.
Gratuitous use of sex in advertising images actually does illicit a negative response from people but when their world becomes more and more saturated with such images, people either grow desensitizing to the culture surrounding those advertisements or they adopt the views depicted in the ads. For example, an ad for Sky Vodka featured a barely-clad woman on a beach having a man (only his hands appear in the advertisement) place grapes from a champagne glass in her mouth while a outlet of Sky Vodka is featured somewhat prominently at the forefront (Dahl, 2009).