The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

As mentioned in previous posts, I have been cleaning out my garage and came across a wide selection of National Geographic magazines. As also mentioned before, I am very interested in how women and men (as well as girls and boys) are portrayed in the media. Therefore I have been looking through some of the magazines and found interesting examples of gender roles, stereotypes and gendered expectations.

As many of the magazines are from the 1950s to about 1980s, they may seem irrelevant, outdated and not so significant when discussing today’s issues. But it is interesting how much things can change, yet still stay the same. Take for example women’s portrayed roles in advertisements, something I am very passionate about. To summarize overall research; women are portrayed in more roles outside the home now than previously (including positions of power), but the sexual objectification of women in advertisement is also greater now (and more explicit) than it has ever been before. Basically, women are now “allowed” greater freedom in terms of life choices, but at the price of relentless sexual objectification.  [Read more...]

At Least Someone Gets to See You Naked!

We have been writing quite extensively about advertisements that we find sexist, stereotypical, or in other ways bothersome. Whether overt or covert, all advertisements send a message about not only the product they are selling, but also society as a whole. Gender battles are typically played out in advertisements, pitting men and women against each other in a biologically driven battle (because it is so much easier to view gender from a strictly biological perspective) where drinking beer and watching sports is strictly “manly,” while shopping for the latest Glade product and worrying about residue on dishes is strictly “feminine.” This is exactly the way gender works, right, both on and off the screen?

One specific advertisement has been bothering us for a while now because of its play on gender and sexual behavior. The advertisement, from Direct TV, wants consumers to switch from cable to their services.

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Don’t Be a Woman

We know that advertising is big business, really big business, and that advertisements often provoke, evoke feelings, make us laugh, anger us, but also that they much too often reinforce old and tired stereotypes based on gender. So here we are again with an advertisement that denigrates women while it simultaneously informs men that they should be the complete opposite of anything associated with women. The ECHL’s Florida Everblades have allowed the company Boost Creative to place an advertisement depicting women’s lower bodies (dressed in skirts) on the opposite team’s bench, so that the men’s upper body is showing, while the lower bodies are that of women. And apparently it is hilarious.

Chris Palin, the Everblades’ vice president (of sales and marketing) feels that the advertisement is fine, stating;

“You want to evoke emotion, that’s OK. As long as you don’t get a ton of complaints, that’s what it supposed to do.” The team has had a few complaints, but according to Palin ”…that’s the nature of advertising on the edge”.

On the edge? Really? This advertisement is not on the edge since every other advertisement out there is predicated on using women to try to emasculate men, or making other men feel like a woman if they do not commit to a narrow definition of masculinity. This type of advertisement is not new, nor is it edgy. It is the complete opposite of edgy, it is old, tired and outdated.
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LGBTQ friendly ad done well

We were quite impressed with the portrayal of same sex love in this recent advertisement by the Swedish company Adressändring (a company which advertisements emphasize the importance of registering your new address in order to receive your post).

Previous advertisements by this company have usually been quite funny in that they often depict different mishaps that have taken place. For example, one woman accidentally has her new sex toy sent to her parents address (her old address) and the parents unpack it and believe that it is a children’s swing and that the woman is planning on having children soon.

This recent advertisement, however, depicts the love between two young men who met in Paris and spent (presumably) a holiday or the summer together. The two men are not only in a same-sex relationship; they are also of different ethnicities and speak different first languages. We like this advertisement because it shows that same-sex love is important, passionate, and serious and deserves attention. It also depicts these men in a way that is casual, rather than attempting to make fun of same-sex love, make a spectacle out of it, or be overly stereotypical. In the end, the Swedish man ends up living with a woman since he never received the letter from his lover in Paris. However, Kjell the Swedish man never forgets his trip to Paris. The advertisement ends with the statement, “do not miss out on important mail”.

Together with the advertisement from Adressändring, an older advertisement from McDonalds is also portraying same-sex love in a great way. We like these advertisements as opposed to stereotypical advertisements that just attempt to make fun of same-sex couples.

It is quite unusual that same-sex love is positively portrayed in media. Instead, it is often depicted as entertainment and made silly and laughable. It is also quite unusual to view advertisements that depict lovers of different ethnicities. We like this advertisement and hope that others will follow and include perspectives that appeal to a wide range of individuals.


Photo of LGBTQ balloons shared by Flickr user rebolyte under a creative commons license.

The 3% Conference Addresses Women in Advertising

We have problems with many advertisements aimed at women. Often they claim to be for women, but are more often than not irritating, demeaning, and frustrating, and do very little for women. Advertisements often portray stereotypical notions of what women want, like, like to do, and should look like; they also attempt to sell products by making women feel guilty about the appearance of their bodies and all the (often made up) “imperfections” that are pitched in a way as to make women feel that they are useless and unattractive.  The advertisements that we recently wrote about are good examples of how not to advertise to women.

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Airbrushing “Gone Wrong” Shows the Absurdity of Retouching Images of Women

After reading Jodi’s post on the Keep it Real Challenge, we could not agree more with her statements and the fact that women (even when they are aware of the airbrushing and photoshopping process) feel bad about themselves after seeing bodies photoshopped to perfection. These photoshopped bodies are presented as “the norm” as many magazines maintain that they only use a little bit of airbrushing, when in fact they use a whole lot.

We have always thought it strange that women in advertisements have no cellulite (when in fact about 90 percent of women do have cellulite), no stretch marks, no scars, no blemishes, no birthmarks, and often no facial features whatsoever except for eyes, a nose, and a mouth on a perfectly wrinkle-free, smooth face. This is because many models, although still beautiful women, are airbrushed beyond what the human body looks like.

In order to attempt to use airbrushing to our advantage and make a point out of it, we thought we would present you with a few “airbrushing disasters.” We hope that these examples can help show the absurdity of airbrushing and photoshopping, and how trying to minimize and slim down models’ bodies often leads to strange body alignments or even the misplacement of limbs.  [Read more...]

Oh PETA. You Never Fail to Horribly Disappoint

I tried to find an image for PETA and all I could find were pictures of naked women. Epic fail PETA.

Wow PETA. Wow.

I mean, seriously? I shouldn’t be surprised. As has been written about on this site again and again and again, PETA is about as misogynistic an organization as they get. But this is beyond the pale.

This proposed billboard and press release essentially embodies the fundamental argument against abortion, which is that the woman doesn’t matter. I can’t…I don’t even know what to say. I am fuming right now. If anyone still had any thoughts that PETA might be a feminist organization, or even a feminist-friendly organization, I think this should clearly show it is not. PETA, much like pro-life, thinks of women merely as cattle.

Actually, I guess for PETA cattle gets a step above women.

PETA: Fat Shaming and the Exploitation of Women


I realize this post is probably beating a dead horse, seeing as most feminists probably already suffer from unendurable squeamishness at the thought of a PETA advertisement. Regardless, I felt compelled to talk about their recent fat-shaming campaign. In an attempt to protect the lives and rights of animals, PETA has consciously chosen to sacrifice the respect and dignity of women’s bodies, ignoring the relational ties that these two sets of oppressed groups have with one another. Using women as a sacrificial tool in an attempt to rally support for the animal-friendly movement is yet another example of the way that women are commodified in advertising as a mechanism for achieving increased consumption. Way to shore up support for capitalist-patriarchy, PETA. I’m sure that will do wonders for animal rights. NOT

According to a PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman, “Anyone wishing to achieve a hot “beach bod” is reminded that studies show that vegetarians are, on average, about 10 to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters…Trying to hide your thunder thighs and balloon belly is no day at the beach.” [Read more...]