<The Gender ADs Project>


As Stupid



<Background: As part of the nature/culture division (Ortner 1974), we see numerous representations of stupid women in popular culture. The division of the world into the male symbolic realm of culture and the female domestic realm leaves women as intellectually inferior. In popular advertising this trope is expressed in visual senses (as women’s faces are composed in such a way as to suggest stupidity), as well as linguistic senses (women are seen saying stupid things or being portrayed as unable to think for themselves without assistance of a man). The Ads: The following ads represent a number of contexts in which the intelligence of women is devalued in advertising. Many (#s 9, 14, 15) represent women in ways that suggest a less intellectual appearance than males. Others, like #6, clearly present women as stupid through cultural associations and narrative. In the case of ad #6, the woman is demeaned by the association that she cannot open a bottle of ketchup. Discussion Questions: (1) How do you respond to the idea that these depictions of women (as being intellectually inferior) are justifiable given the idea that advertising is "fun," tongue and cheek, etc? (2) Can you find examples of men being represented in the same way (as intellectually deprived)? How do such ads compare to the ads relative to women? (3) What cultural, political or other formations led to the development of this form of advertising?  >


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