An interesting article I came across whilst researching women in advertising. I feel this will really help the analysis of the commercial imagery within the publication.
The roles of females have greatly domesticated in popular culture, especially in advertisements. Many advertisements contain women in roles such as cooks, maids, babysitters, as well as sex objects in order to sell product. In the beginning, advertisements were once shown to sell a product, however, as years pass, advertisements begin to objectify women and begin to use women as a way to sell products. Will these roles stop putting women in such domesticating roles, or will women continue to be the subject to products? Looking at the trends of advertisements, women continue to be one of main objects for a product. The trends have greatly changed, creating a gap between the products being sold to the objects they use to sell the product. The advertising trends began before the early 1900s until present time, where the roles of women have changed drastically beginning from products being sold on literally terms, to solving personal and social problems, to consumer association and present, as a subliminal and unconscious desire (Peden).
Advertisements began before the 19th century, where advertisements were meant to sell the products in literal terms (Peden). For example, [fig. 1] demonstrates a product that is sold based on what the product entails. It explains the literal use and image of the product without additional slogans or objects. As you see, women did not have to sell themselves at this time, why now?
Advertisements have developed throughout the years in order to sell more products. In the early 1900s, advertisements have been a way in solving personal and social problems (Peden). Women at this time were placed as the main audience for the products advertised. In [fig 2], products are advertised in a way to make people feel insecure. The particular advertisement, denotatively, shows a man walking away from a woman whom is crying, which indicate anger from a man, and sadness from the woman. However, connotatively, the man is shown with control and high status, while the woman is seen as insecure, vulnerable and ditsy. The text “is a wife to blame if she doesn’t know—“and “Mistakes many women often make” (Zonite) indicate the downgrading of women. The text indicates the lack of knowledge of women in comparison to men. If a man was to leave you because you didn’t use a particular product, would you buy it? This advertisement says it all, use the product and keep the man, don’t use it and lose him. You never know if you would be a victim of this type of advertisement if you were placed in this time.
[fig 2] (Zonite)
Around the 1950s, women began to be more accounted into the domestic role. Women are placed in advertisements that consumers associate them to (Peden).Women are often seen with 'rough house work' such as washing the dishes, as seen in [fig 3] (Mullins and Pearson 238). Are women meant to do all the dishes? – Apparently, yes. With the phrase “Get out of the kitchen sooner!” (Lux). Men are often seen ‘behind the scenes’ when it comes to domestic labour such as house cleaning, grocery shopping and babysitting. It shows that they are not the dominant role when it comes to home duties. The man in the advertisement is seen on a couch, having the dominate control to do what he wants.
[fig 3] (Lux)
Often, the differentiation between males and females in advertisements are distinct. Females are often seen with certain products, while men are seen with others. However, when men are seen with ‘women jobs’, they are often struggling or are in need of help. For example, in [fig 4] it shows the switching of the male and female roles back in the mid 1900s. If you look at the image now, women taking on men roles are considered normal; however, back in earlier days, the quote “Madam! Suppose you traded jobs with your husband?” (unknown) makes it seems totally obscure. It shows that women are dominant in the home duty department, where men lack the skills to do house chores. Who would have known that men and women would be able to switch roles in the future?
[fig 4] (unknown)
Beginning around the late 1900s, advertisements use strong female presence as subliminal and unconscious desires (Peden). Some advertisements use women that are irrelevant to the product, but use the female as a way to sell the product to the audience. For example, in [fig 5] the image shows that the product being sold is Skyy vodka. What does women have to do with alcohol? The woman in this image is objectified as a way to gain the attention of the male species. Women are often seen in provocative images in order to sell product. In this image, fetishism is involved. Women’s body is often dismembered to place focus on specific body parts, to give the audience his or her way to build up a process to imagine the rest of the whole being ( Mulvey 23). In this case, the woman’s breast is the main part of the body being objectified. In a way, this advertisement can attract the female species. By advertising the female with an ‘ideal image’, females may want to purchase the product in hopes to gain the same image as the female on the advertisement.
[fig 5] (Skyy)
Advertisements use women as a way to make other women insecure; therefore, they will find women whom are considered ‘ideal’ in today’s society. When carefully analyzed or not, people know that advertisements are ways to gain the attention of people. They are images that try to manipulate people into buying their product; however, many people are guilty into ‘falling into their trap’. If people did not follow advertisements, they wouldn’t be making more. Advertisement is similar to Baudrillard’s “it is no longer the territory that provides the model for the map, but the map that defines the territory” (Bordo 104). Images were once showed through process of development, but now, images are displayed as a form of an ideal for people to develop into. Today, advertisements are seen as map defining territories. Advertisement shows the audience what they can become if they use the products. For example, [fig 6] shows an image of a slim female after the use of the product, Hydroxycut. With the before and after image, it shows females the ideal body image they desire, as a representation of the map.
[fig 6] (Hydroxycut)
Without the support of people, advertisement would not have such advertisements on women. But being human, many are guilty of purchasing and engaging in the images that are shown. However, sometimes it makes people wonder why women do advertisements that degrade themselves. Everyone has their own reasons, some that may be relevant to money, while others may enjoy this type of publicity. Overall, from the images shown over the generation, portray the role o females over time. Females were once non existence when it came to advertisements, but now has become an object for the product.