<The Gender ADs Project>


Women as Consumers



<Background: In many contexts women are portrayed as active consumers. As part of their connection to the private sphere, women are often associated with shopping. Here is an interesting discussion of the contradictions of advertising and the roles that women are seen playing in advertising. The Ads: Many of the ads displayed below present women as being inseparable from their consumer goods. This is especially true in diamond ads (#s 14, 16, 6). Women are sometimes presented as dreaming about their commodity fetishism (#2). In addition to the visual content of the ads, the ad text is often reflection of stereotypes, such as, women "glow" when they shop (#11), they dream of consumerist goods (#2), they are "addicts" (#3), they are "called" by goods (#5), consumerism represents their "psyche" (#15), women can make it "their own" (#16), accessories express women's "inner spirit" (#17), the woman is "perpetually late" due to shopping (#21). The message of these ads, perhaps similar to some ads now targeting male consumers, is that life is something to be spent (see #10). In some cases femininity itself is connected to consumption (see #13). Perhaps the most demeaning ads, to men as well, are #s22 and 23: here the woman hits the jackpot by shopping and in the other ad the male has to have a drink due to the long day of shopping with the woman. Let's ask ourselves if we want to be defined by consumerism, or if there is a better way to live. We should resist stereotypes that suggest that women love to shop. Questions: (1) Why have women been connected to the apparatuses of shopping in our society? (2) Has society changed to an extent that men are depicted, perhaps in different ways, as consumers? (3) What types of products are women associated with, and why are these associations present in society? (4) What cultural themes are reflected in the ads related to Women as Consumers? >


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<presented by Scott A. Lukas, Ph.D.>