<The Gender ADs Project>

 

Fear

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<Background: In psychological, physical and metaphysical senses, advertising teaches women to fear. This fear takes many forms. In its connection to the foci of normalization, fear is manifested in advertising that stresses defending the self against aggressors—in the case of beauty products and cosmetics the aggressor is not looking good and the effects of age (cf. Wolf 1991:114-15). Fear is also manifested in the unfortunate reality that women are more commonly the victims of sexual violence and assault and men. In a number of the ads women are portrayed as weak and fearful. Some ads offer the sinister assumption that a woman is about to be the target of a form of violence or assault, such as in the scenario in which the woman is walking alone late at night on a deserted street. The Ads: Ads 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 12, 13 are troubling as they present women in situations of peril. Image 6/7 gained much attention in Internet discussion as many critical viewers read it as a suggestion of a woman about to be raped. Regardless of this or any other interpretation of these ads, we can say that the women portrayed in the following ads have less agency in a number of regards.  Questions: (1) How is fear constructed in the following ads? Are there specific poses, situations or circumstances that illustrate fear? (2) How is female oppression, including stalking, domestic violence and rape, referenced (in some cases obliquely) in these ads? (3) Why do you believe that advertisers rely on fear as a theme for their ads? >

 

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