Friday, March 12, 2010

Anti-sexism and Anti-gender commercials

There is a lot of sexism in today’s commercials, more than ever before. One day I’ve tried to count the how much sex is in ads. I’ve got conclusion that only one for five maybe six commercials I’ve seen has something to do with sex or women beauty (read thinness). So, why it is such a big deal for us? It’s because we remember much better these ads. It’s been said that men think about sex once in every six minutes. Advertises simply use this nature of men and sex can be in commercials of everything (from food to cars). Jean Kilbourne says in “Beauty and the Beast of Advertising” that: “She is thin, generally tall and long-legged, and, above all, she is young. All beautiful women in advertisements (including minority women), regardless of product or audience, conform to this norm.” All this thinness and perfectionism have bad consequences on women, especially young women, who can pay every price to achieve that, even their health.

Can we change that? Can “normal” people sell clothes or perfumes? While I was reading some articles on the net, there was TV on in my back and I heard Jessica Simpson talking about fatness. I check it out and she gain some weight and is trying to sell it. She produces a TV show called “Price of Beauty”. I think she wasn’t being sell enough so she figure out something new, but I don’t want to judge her about her reasons of doing that. The important thing is that this is some alternative to the image of beautiful women. She will show us in the show, what are the criteria of beauty in different parts of the world.

One thing in advertisement is the whole sexism and beauty perfectionism, but there is something more. The most advertises use popular gender roles to sell their product. For example I have never seen commercial of detergent with man as person who does laundry. Right now in “modern” society gender roles are changing a little (shifting is too big word for this process). For example in usually young couples men cook. I found 1 commercial of Radio2, where men cook and woman is just drinking beer. Even though to see change of gender roles in advertisement, first we would have to see this change in society. Or this can work the other way? I don’t know – this is chicken and egg problem. For sure if we would see more commercials where men do cooking or cleaning, after some time it could help changing gender stereotypes.
Interesting are some Dodge Charger Commercials, where men and women talked about their duties and than about driving Dodge Charger as a reward for whole day. The commercial supposed to be funny, but wasn't for many people. I, after watching a few of them, think that they are trying to say that Dodge Charger, even though as sports car should be only for men, actually is also good reward for women, so it's not gendered product. See for yourself.

So commercials use stereotypes and sex to sell more. Can these be used to advertise “good” things? Yes. One example of that is PETA campaign. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) knows nudity is attractive, trendy. They use the popularity of celebrities to fight for better treatment of animals. We can see in magazines and billboards posters of their two most known campaigns. One is called “Save the Seals” and it’s series of posters of celebrities who wear T-shirts with a little seal on them. The second one is more important and known even better. It says “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur”.

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