<The Gender ADs Project>


Lesbian Women in Ads



<Background: One of the standard tropes of pornography is of faux-lesbianism—the female couple engaging in sexual intercourse for the pleasure of the male viewer. Sut Jhally’s two Dreamworlds videos reflect the presence of this trope in mainstream music television videos. As Jhally indicates, the presence of true lesbian sexuality would be a welcomed addition to the misogynistic and heteronormative world of music television; however, he emphasizes the need to understand that such sexuality is in fact presented for the male heterosexual viewer. Much like Jhally’s analyses of popular music videos, the study of mainstream advertising reveals a significant presence of faux-lesbianism in ads. At the same time, as is the case with gay advertising, lesbian advertising is an acknowledgement of a growing market sector in consumer society.  The Ads: Interestingly, ad 3 was found in both a heterosexual magazine as well as in a homosexual magazine.  Questions: (1) Is the emergence of lesbian-centered advertising a positive sign? Does it represent an opening up of advertising to non-heterosexual avenues, or, as Jhally suggests, is it merely a reinscription of male heterosexist assumptions? (2) In which types of magazines do we note an increase in lesbian-related advertising? (3) Are the women in lesbian ads subject to the same forms of visual and contextual objectification as women in straight ads? >


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