Sc2220 Lecture 6 2009

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Lecture 6: Gender in Popular Culture

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Sc2220 Lecture 6 2009

  1. 1. SC2220: Gender Studies Gender and Popular Culture Dr. Eric C. Thompson
  2. 2. In this Lecture… <ul><li>Gender and Advertising </li></ul><ul><li>Variation in Standards of Beauty </li></ul><ul><li>Why do standards of beauty seem to impact women more than men? </li></ul>
  3. 3. “ Killing Us Softly”: Gender and Advertising
  4. 4. “ Real Beauty” <ul><li>Dove “Real Beauty” Campaign </li></ul><ul><li>Revolutionary? </li></ul><ul><li>Shock/Difference = Attention = Interest = Sales = $$$$ </li></ul><ul><li>And still . . . “Advertising involves selling us things we did not know we needed to solve problems we did not know we had.” </li></ul>
  5. 5. Shaping Possibilities <ul><li>Brittney Spears Pepsi Ad Campaign </li></ul><ul><li>Influence on Clothing Styles </li></ul><ul><li>In mass market, clothing choices are determined by producers as much as by consumers. </li></ul><ul><li>Low-cut jeans become the norm (and the only thing available in stores). </li></ul><ul><li>How many people choose to wear clothes other than those available in shops? </li></ul>
  6. 6. Masculinity and Advertising <ul><li>“ Instruction Manual” & “structure of appropriate behavior” </li></ul><ul><li>Advertising exaggerates male status-seeking (as ‘what women want’) and female beauty & sexuality (as ‘what men want’) </li></ul><ul><li>Men who view beautiful models are less satisfied and less committed to current partner. </li></ul><ul><li>Women who listen to stories about successful men are less satisfied with current partner. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Men and Women in Advertising <ul><li>Content Analysis of Advertising general shows the following: </li></ul><ul><li>Men as “expert” voiceover announcer on all types of products </li></ul><ul><li>Men overrepresented numerically </li></ul><ul><li>Women younger, shorter, more likely secondary role </li></ul><ul><li>Women more often a smaller % of image </li></ul>
  8. 8. Content Analysis of Advertising (Continued…) <ul><li>Men less often in family role; if dads then less often with daughters or infants </li></ul><ul><li>Women more likely appear unemployed or in “pink collar” job; men are shown in all jobs (especially occupations with authority). </li></ul><ul><li>Men more often give advice, women receive advice </li></ul><ul><li>Ads selling to women more often focus on appearance; those selling to men focus on status. </li></ul>
  9. 9. A Pop Culture Critique of Pop Culture… Pink “Stupid Girls”
  10. 10. Second & Third Wave Feminism <ul><li>Pink “Stupid Girls” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Second Wave” Feminism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rejection of “Emphasized” Femininity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gain Power through Competing with Men (“What happened to the dream of a girl President…”) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Spice Girls “Wannabe” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Third Wave” Feminism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assume Equality/Status as a Given </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gain Power through leveraging Femininity and Sexuality (“If you want to be my lover, you got to give…” i.e. you get sex if you do what I want you to do.) </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Cultural Differences in Images of Beauty <ul><li>Some aspects of beauty are consistent across cultures (e.g.): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Symmetry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Waist-to-Hip Ratio (.70) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Indicate Health, Fertility </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Many others are not. </li></ul><ul><li>Why do standards of beauty vary widely in different societies and cultures? </li></ul>Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640): Set the standard of “Rubenesque” beauty.
  12. 12. Mauritania Fat-Farms : Force Fed Beauty
  13. 13. Radically Different Images of Beauty: But Equally Extreme <ul><li>Correlation between Body Image and Status </li></ul><ul><li>If little food is available, fatness is a display of wealth and high social status. </li></ul><ul><li>If food is abundant , thinness is a display of discipline and leisure time to exercise and high social status. </li></ul>Anorexia = Beauty Obesity = Beauty
  14. 14. Skin Deep Beauty <ul><li>Agricultural societies: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dark skin = Working Outdoors = Low Social Status </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Light skin = Staying Indoors = High Social Status </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Industrial societies: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dark skin = Leisure Outdoors = High Social Status </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Light skin = Working Indoors (factory/office) = Low Social Status </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Racism: White = European = Wealth = High Social Status </li></ul>Skin Whitening Products Skin Tanning Products
  15. 15. Influence of Mass Popular Culture <ul><li>Mass popular culture = greater body image pressure. </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction of television correlated with increased emphasis on body image cross-culturally. </li></ul><ul><li>Societies without mass media are much less obsessed with body image. (e.g. Shostak 1981, Nisa ) </li></ul>
  16. 16. Objectification of Women <ul><li>Why are women’s bodies objectified and not men’s? (or women’s bodies more so than men’s) </li></ul><ul><li>Thesis 1: Men control advertising firms; they choose to display women as sex objects (for their gratification and to perpetuate male power over women). </li></ul><ul><li>Thesis 2: Heterosexual dynamics are such that women are a sexual commodity in ways that men are not (there is a “market” for women’s sexuality; but not much of one for men’s). </li></ul><ul><li>The two theses are not mutually exclusion; evidence exists to support both. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Men Don’t Seem to Need a “Real Beauty” Campaign
  18. 18. Cultural, Social, Biological <ul><li>Popular Culture: Images teach us how to be men, women, gendered beings </li></ul><ul><li>Social Organization: Different social-economic organization (agricultural, industrial; scarcity, abundance) influences cultural representations of high and low status </li></ul><ul><li>Heterosexual Chemistry/Dynamics: Inclines women to be Sex Objects more so than men. </li></ul>

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