Gender Stereotypes in Television Commercials Boys Will Be Boys
Common Stereotypes in American Commercials What gender stereotypes do you regularly see in television commercials?
Analysis: Old Spice
Women are materialistic
“Average man” has poor hygiene
Women have unrealistic expectations
Material goods strengthen relationships
For men? For women?
Men will desire to smell like “the man your man could smell like.”
Women will take the initiative
Women are attracted to scent/Axe
There is one kind of attractive woman
Consumers of Axe are straight men
To convince men that women are attracted to Axe.
Women are enthusiastic about housework
Even powerful women have to do housework
Successful people have clean homes
Successful women entertain
Middle-class Married Women
Convince women that Tide will help them become better housewives.
Women enjoy cleaning
Men do not know how to perform basic household tasks
Married women with children
Suggest to women that their assumed chores can be made easier with Brawny.
Use of Metaphor Three layers to create meaning (Velasco-Sacristan) (1) Commercials have verbal, non-verbal, or multimodal realizations in discourse (2) This non-explicit communication enforces/creates/reflects gender stereotypes (3) They may give rise to “covertly communicated” sexism So, what does this mean? What is a covertly communicated message? Example: Axe commercials Plot summary: Boy uses axe. Boy smells good. Girls like boys who smell good. Boy gets girls. Lots of girls. Simplified theme: Use of product yields reward(s). Literalized theme: Women are rewards. Advertisements sell rewards, not products. People are not people, but objects or products.
Roles of Men and Women Common roles reflected in commercials: Women: Married, mother, compulsive cleaner, sex addict. Often unemployed or has ambiguous employment. Women in commercials range from above average attractiveness to beautiful and are rarely overweight. Men: Macho, stupid, inability to complete normal household duties, the funny guy. Men are more often portrayed as average looking. Setting Women: Mostly in domestic settings. Men: In the home or out with friends. Occasionally at work.
Roles of Men and Women (con’t) Humor: Women: Subtle humor or no humor. Often revolves around relationships and gender miscommunication. Men: Humor used often and obviously. Generally more crude or sexual. Attractiveness: Women: “One out of five male characters was the object of another character’s admiring gaze. In contrast, six out of ten female characters were the object of another’s gaze” (Signorielli). Unrealistically beautiful, in both genders’ commercials. Men: Generally average looking. Sometimes slightly overweight.
Reality Primary Characters in Commercials: 53.6% Male, 46.4% Female Ratio of Men to Women in U.S.: 48.8% Male, 51.2% Female 70% Portrayed primary/secondary characters in car commercials are Male, while >50% new/used car buyers are Female. 57% of young girls and 59% of young boys say female characters on television are more attractive than the women they know in real life; 61% of young girls agree females on TV are thinner as well.
Media Theories Uses and Gratifications: “Individuals young and old look to the television screen to help determine which gender-related roles are likely to be met with social approval, and which may incur social penalties” (Scharrer). Critical Cultural: Image schemas have been largely unchanged to reflect modern gender roles. (Velasco-Sacristan) Relative Universality View: The mind is equally the product of culture and an embodiment of it. - Mind is an embodiment of culture, to some extent, created through mutual interaction Therefore, gender roles in commercials reflect cultural tropes.
Can appeal to the largest audience with least controversy
To delay or fail to maintain pace to an end goal; Being stuck while others move forward. i.e. In online games, if your character/screen freeze due to your own computer or internet capabilities you are “lagging”—the game continues on without you.
Because advertising firms lag behind normative culture, they limit their consumer base.
Discussion Consumers recognize that commercials do not accurately reflect customers demographics. What do you think is the impact of this oversight? “If you search the internet you’ll come across parodies of Axe commercials that portray Axe for gays. You’ll find Axe’s website openly promoting no strings attached sex, if your [sic] a man who happens to like women.”(Payne) Do you think the commercials we showed are sexist? Do they accurately portray reality? Is the media reflecting or perpetuating this gendered reality?