The Male Gaze in AdvertisingWomen’s Studies Music Video By Marta Kluth
Gloria Steinem’s Article “Sex, Lies, and Advertising” explored the power and influence of certain types of advertising over content in magazines. These manipulations of perspective made me look into other readings of gender and advertisements. So let’s look closer. Let’s look directly at the Ads…
What is the Male Gaze?
Laura Mulvey introduced the term “male gaze” in 1974 when she published an article called ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’
The objects of gaze (women) The possessors of the gaze (men) -and- She describes that the male gaze involves two basic aspects:
In advertising women are typically the objects of gaze because the ideal audience is presumed to be heterosexual (white) males.
But, even in advertising that is targeted toward women it is accepted that the viewer or ‘gazer’ is assumed to be male. Elle Magazine.
By doing this, women look at themselves through a mans perspective and women identify with both viewpoints. In “Ways of Seeing” by John Berger he states that: They then think in terms of how men would view them instead of how they view themselves. "Men 'act' and women 'appear.' Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at."
Being exposed to many hundreds of advertisements per day, it could be argued that such ads are a cultural basis of the ‘ideal’ person or behavior. The continuation of which only solidifies the inescapable cultural stereotypes of gender. In the reading “Points of Derailment: The Making of a Female Physicist” by D. Elizabeth Pugel she states that the “expectations direct the child’s notions of appropriate or inappropriate behaviors, and these set the stage for a life of pre-determined actions, where girls expect to become the passive object of adoration…”
In the book “Gender and Advertisements” Erving Goffman, esteemed sociologist, presents a list of observed body-language stereotypes in advertisements. For Example…
As Goffman puts it: “The level of the head is lowered relative to that of others, including, indirectly, the viewer of the picture. The resulting configurations can be read as an acceptance of subordination, an expression of integration, submissiveness, and appeasement.” Relative Size
Ritualization of Subordination Women depicted lying down, usually on a bed or the ground, in a submissive, vulnerable position.
The Feminine Touch Women are routinely showed touching their face or objects with their fingers in a playful manner but almost never grasping in any sort of manner.
Also… Women are often depicted as staring off into the distance, not focused toward the viewer so she is depicted as an object to be looked at. Women are also often depicted as childlike in advertisements with playful facial expressions and body positions
Through years of advertising in such ways, beauty has come to be measured through images such as these emphasizing submissive, subordinate, and passive composition.
While advertisements certainly don’t reflect the realities of everyday life and interactions, they are the mainstream, cultural depiction of what you are to try and be.
It’s been engraved into our minds and our culture so deeply that rarely do people think twice about what they are seeing and being influenced by.
Will you notice?
Information Sources: http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/gaze/gaze.html