<The Gender ADs Project>

 

Males in Ads

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<Background: At a semiotic level there is disparity in the portrayal of men and women in popular advertising. When men and women appear in ads together, the women are often depicted as weaker than the male, either through composition of the ad or particular situations in the scene. When females appear in ads alone we again note the stereotype of the female as sexual, unintelligent and fragile. Males, conversely, appear as strong and cultured. Particular roles and gender constructs are also evident in male ads. Males are told to act tough, hide their emotions, and compete at all costs (Thompson 1993:146-7). Nancy Chodorow argues that the attainment of masculinity is a problematic issue for boys (1974:51), particularly as boys are taught to differentiate themselves from others. There are a number of sources that focus on males in advertising. One is a book of ads called The Male Mystique. The other is a video produced by the Media Education Foundation, known as Tough Guise. I also recommend the work of John Stoltenberg, Michael Kimmel and Jackson Katz.  The Ads: A number of the initial ads on the page present stereotypical images of masculinity. Image 37 is interesting for its notion of the inculcation of specific consumer values (related to the male love for automobiles) in young boys. Discussion Questions: (1) Compare these advertisements of males with those of females. What similarities and/or differences do you note in male and female ads? (2) Do you detect any changes in the constructions of masculinity over the last ten or so years? Are these changes reflected in advertising? (3) Which of the ads present males as tough, rugged and unemotional? Why are these stereotypes presents in popular culture? (4) Are there variations of masculinity presented within the ads? Can you create a typology of types of masculinity? How would this typology compare to a similar one of female ads?  >

 

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