<The Gender ADs Project>

 

Only the Body

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<Background: A popular theme in both advertising and mainstream movies is of the male as a decision-maker and the female as a passive, uninvolved body (cf. Culley and Bennett 1976). Even in mainstream magazines, advertising rarely depicts women in other roles (Sexton and Haberman 1974). Advertising is capricious, and in some cases particular depictions of men and women have shifted over the years. An example of this trend occurred in 1970s ads where the stereotypical objectified images of women were supplanted in part by images of women in business and executive settings. However, as two authors argue, such representations have ultimately faded away to the more traditional depictions of women as sex objects (Benokraitis and Feagin 1995:28).  The Ads: What do the follow representations suggest about our perceptions of power, agency and intellect in U.S. society? As you analyze each ad, consider what each says about the perceptions of women in society.  Questions: (1) Think of some contexts in society, besides advertising, in which women are considered only as being connected with their bodies. Are there similar contexts in which men are primarily associated with their bodies? (2) What are the cultural sources of women being viewed only as reflections of their bodies? Are these sources limited to the world of advertising and popular culture? (3) Politically, what would it take to shift the view that women are only bodies? (4) Find a site on the Internet that focuses on the positive aspects of women, particularly one that emphasizes the non-corporeal contributions of women. >

 

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