<The Gender ADs Project>

 

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<Background: The objectification of women in advertising takes many forms, but the ultimate end of objectification is the denial of women of their agency. Sut Jhally’s analysis of David Lee Roth’s video "California Girls" illustrates the fundamental issue of objectification in visual media. In the video Roth is the moving figure, able to freeze and unfreeze the bikini-clad women—he has subjectivity. The women are anonymous—no one is more important than the other, each is clearly an object laid out to be used by Roth as he chooses—they are objectified. The Ads: Images 3 and 10 illustrate the construction of this trope. In each of the scenes, the males have agency and subjectivity, while the females are mere objects (one cannot identify their faces in either picture—essentially, each is the same as the next woman). I would suggest that Image 29 clearly represents the issue at hand. Of the actors presented, the woman in the ad for the movie is scantily clad, while the men are clothed. This is one example of how women are denied subjectivity afforded to men. Discussion Questions: (1) Visually, how is power connected to the power of an individual? What visual techniques are used to establish power dynamics in an image? (2) What do these images suggest about the culture in which they originated? (3) Can you think of other cultural situations (outside of advertising) in which men occupy similar positions of power over women? >

 

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