Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Women & The News

Here's group 5's presentation, our link to the prezi is below :)

& here are our videos, in order of their appearance in our prezi:

1. intro-

2. "leggy babes"-

lower cuts, higher ratings?-

3. "g-shot"-

4. sex sells, baby!-

5. boys will be boys-

6. Oprah parody

<3 Sangay,Hubert, & Natalie

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gender And Advertising (What are they really selling?)

This is the presentation for group 3. The audio wouldn't sync properly for the AXE commercial, so I posted it without audio. The video tells the story without it, I hope. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Women As The Audience

Below is the link to Group # 2's Prezi Presentation on Women as the Audience.

This presentation aids to convey the dichotomy between the male and female gaze, and uses a feminist approach towards understanding the female audience as they interpret the depiction of women in the mass media.
This can be understood through two significant elements:

1) Analyzing selected beauty versus broadened beauty in advertisement.

  • Is the "corset" thin image a healthy, trendy, AND ideal look for mass consumers?

2) Dissecting the "Real" American Woman from her "Fantasized" counterpart on television.

  • Are "real" women truly the opposite of media portrayals?


  • Do women put on "fantasized" monstrous images to threaten male phallocentrism?

Questions For Thought

How do we define a Feminine Audience?

Would you consider women to be passive in visual narratives and in media?

How do we essentially distinguish the perception between the male gaze and those of females?

NOTE: Please let me know if the Prezi presentation link is having issues.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mmm... sexy...

Societal norms are established through constant repetition. If we are exposed to sexist ads 24/7 we will accept sexism as a fact of life and as a norm in our society. Sadly in large part sexism was and is still a part of our social norms. While this is actively fought against by women rights activists and feminists, it still persists in everyday media.

We are being sold products, services and ideas that we are told will satisfy our essential insecurities and desires. Everyday we are bombarded with media of various formats advertising for yet another must have product, ant-wrinkle cream or the super duper smartphone. Daily exposure to ever invasive advertising has became the norm for us.

Mass media and advertising has been able to compartimilize the female concciousness. There's no unified self as Dougla points out. The American woman has been constructed from sereotypical ideals. ideals espoused by the "Americana" culture. "Women have grown accustomed to compartalizing ourselfes into a whole host of personas, which we occupy simultaneously" (Douglas, 13)

Advertisments and commercials aren't just meaningless works of media. They fill help define our social norms and roles of gender. They will fill in the gaps of what it means to be pretty, successful or a true American. "These stories and imges don't come from Pluto: our deepest aspirations and anxieties are carefull, relentlessly researched. Then they are repackaged and sold back to us as something we can get simply by watching or buying."( Douglas, 15)

As I have mentioned earlier, advertising reinforces the societal norms. From the day we are born, we are conditioned to live and behave as is expected of our genders. Men are suppouse to be decisive, strong opiniated, know what they want and confident. Women in contrast are supouse to be the oppsite of the male ideal. by the reinforcment of the ideals and norms, we began to internalize these sterotypes. They become part of our identity.  For women it's worse obviousely. All the negative stereotypes are grown into her fiber of concious identity. She grows accustomed to these identity markers and everyday she tries to live by them. It's a self fulfilling cointainment of councisness as Kilbourne would say.(Kilbourne, 125)

Mass media magnifies the divisions that are suppouse to separate the two genders. through media advertising, femals and males learn what is expected of them. Males are to be dominative and females are to assume the roles of submissive and passive beings, until they become simply objects. (Cortese, 53)

A perfect example of the gender stereotype.

One can easily see the danger that sexist ads can lead too. Values and ideas on the place of women and their value as members of our society can be altered through the advertisements. We are not only being sold products or services, but ideas, values and standards. Do we really want to have ads that propagate objectification of the female body?

Probably the most prevalent advertisements where women are featured are that of alcohol products. For comparison's sake I decided to look at the alcohol commercials and advertisements in Poland and juxtapose them against their American counterparts.

In comparison, American commercials try to attract the viewer by amusement. Too bad that the amusement is that of the presented women. They are either physically or mentally abused. They are the butt of stereotypical jokes. Women are portrayed as objects and nothing more. What's even worse is the fact that these commercials are found to be funny and perfectly fine for the public. They have became a norm. A norm where women aren't human beings, but objects of desire.

Budweiser ad

The female body is objectified and commodified. The ad clearly sends the message that you can get women with this beer. Women will just be all over you if you drink this piss poor excuse for a beer.

In another ad of Budweiser we see a naked female advertising her body with the beer just being a small prop rather than the main product/focus of the advertisment.

Miller Light

Big breasts, perfect skin, seductive pose, and then there's the the bottle of Miller Light. And here I thought that the it's suppose to be an ad about beer.

Grind it in baby!

In this ad of Corona beer we are presented with an image of a women clearly having and orgasm. Apparently it advertises Corona beer represented by a miniscule image of the neck of the beer bottle with a lime in it, with the following tag line “Grind It Deeper”

Interestingly enough most beer commercials in Poland, focus on the history, tradition, the process of brewing, medals won in competitions etc rather than cheap, unimaginative spots with half naked women used in American commercials.

Few examples

Tyskie- Edison

tagline: “Edison hasn't imagined yet that just after 11 years after his invention of a light bulb, electricity was used in the Tyskie brewing process. Tyskie is 375 years old.” (loose translation)

Zywiec- World Changes

“Ideas change, music changes, technology changes..... almost everything changes [except Zywiec]”

Okocim- “Everything for the pleasure”

“Everything for the pleasure [of taste] since 1845”

Some ads,

Warka- The Best Barley Under the Sun.

Zywiec- “I must admit, I am no angel”

Tyskie- The Best in Europe”- Did you know that aprx. 10 bottles of Tyskie are consumed every minute in Germany?

Most Polish beer commercials are either focused on the themes of sport, history/tradition or the fraternal bond between men. While I have encountered some sexist Polish beer commercials in the past, those seem to stay in the past. There's no direct objectification of women, but in most commercials, there is still the male gaze. I have never encountered an ad or a commercial in Poland where the targeted audience of a beer commercial were females. So there you have it, probably as close as one can get to a gender neutral commercial.

Polish beer commercials aren't overtly sexist, and I would argue that overall they are alot more gender neutral than their American counterparts, there still persists one problem however. All of those commercials are mede with men in mind. The males are the target audience. As steinem points out, there's a huge unexplored market of the female audience (Steinem 114). It's in the best interest of the companies to explore that market.
However there is still this mystification and the myth of "the lady". A petite creature that a "foul and manly" drink such as beer is so unfitting for her. There's wine and champagne for her delicate lips. [sarcasam off]

In comparison here are some American beer commercials.

Miller Light

Coors Light

Like every woman is just dying to get married. It must be a dream of eery girl out there. To get stuck with the old ball and chain over there. This ad couldn't been more stereotypical.

Bud Light

Infamous Guinness

How great is that? Sharing is caring after all, right? While it may be found to be amusing by men, the female subject has been completely degraded to an object of gratification. She is passed around like a a whore.

In comparison, American commercials try to attract the viewer by amusement. Too bad that the amusement is that of the presented women. They are either physically or mentally abused. They are the butt of stereotypical jokes. Women are portrayed as objects and nothing more. What's even worse is the fact that these commercials are found to be funny and perfectly fine for the public. They have became a norm. A norm where women aren't human beings, but objects of desire.

Advertising is a business and like every business, it needs to know its clientele to succeed. Advertising industry dissects and segments the society into a fragmented realm of primordial instincts. There are ads for the young and the old; for males and females; for all colours of our skin, and every socio-economic strata of our society. We become nothing more than numbers and figures for the advertisers.

That being said, it only boggles my mind that there are commercials and advertisements still with the male gaze in mind. The companies are just making a simply a bad business decision. Instead of exploring and catering to the niche market audience, they decide to create commercials with male audience as the primary viewer.

Determination and Persistence

We can do a lot, as a matter of fact. All it takes is some will power and persistence. First, people need to realize that they are not at the mercy of the advertising companies. It is us who hold the power. We buy all the products and subsequently if we were to boycott the ones which use sexist ads and commercials, we would send a very strong message. It is time to remind those smarty pants people in top management in charge of product development that we aren't sheep blindly following one another. We are rational human beings capable of choices. We have the power of the purse, without us they will go out of business.

Body Image: The Nightmare of a Cultural Dream

According to the Feminine Mystique women search for role models in television, movies and magazines because we have so few represented in our male centered society, but the media by and large only provides role models that are based on male sexual fantasy and impossible ideals.

From the very beginning little girls are swept into this media illusion and are taught to idealize and identify with highly feminized and sexualized characters.

They’re even provided with play products to prepare them for the endless quest for perfection that lies ahead.

The role models we see are young, skinny and sexually available.

Staring out of magazines...


...and advertisements.

They aren’t looking back at the women who seek their guidance.

They are presenting themselves to male culture.

And we are supposed to imagine ourselves doing the same.

So that we can be reduced to parts...

for gratification...

...and consumption.

Because in media culture our bodies do not belong to us.

It tells us that we should not have a voice or think for ourselves.

That we should be barely there...

...and be the fantasy

...the object

It tells us that as long as we follow these simple rules, there’s no wrong way to do it.
It’s ok to be stupid...


and debased.

But the cultural fantasy becomes our nightmare, because we internalize the contradictions and blame ourselves….

And then... just like we've been taught, we go out and buy products
to take our pain away.

We believe that through awareness, education and participating in the resistance against these messages we can begin to shape our culture instead of letting it shape us. One resource which strives to raise awareness about the media's assault on women can be found at

Which came first? The judgement or the ad?

The image of the beautiful woman has been plastered on billboards and in magazines and commercials. But who is she? Apparently, she is not me. Nor the majority of my friends or family. She is taller than me, but weighs less. Her waist is skinnier, but her breasts are larger. Now, don’t get me wrong, she is still beautiful and I hope she feels that way. But the problem is not in whether or not she is beautiful, but whether women who don’t look like her feel beautiful even though they are underrepresented. I would argue that they don’t.

A part of me would like to examine the callous argument that every woman knows this is not how they MUST look. A part of me feels that the advertisement is just an extension of the public’s judgements, something people need to be prepared for in order to build up a self-esteem in

the face of adversity. For example, bullies have and will always a part the middle and high school experience and people like to blame them for the reasons why teens commit suicide, or decide to shoot up the whole school. But no, a normal reaction to bullying is to become stronger, or ignore it; not take your life of the lives of others. Everyone has been bullied and everyone is prepared to face adversity in the real world. If high school was sunshine and rainbows it would misrepresent the real world and the challenges we need to deal with. If ads showed every woman and every body type, ethnicity and age it would not represent society’s views on beauty. The ads give women a chance to know what they’re up against, and feel

even more beautiful when they decide to feel that way themselves in the face of adversity.

This is how I wish it was, but I must say that it angers me to think I could argue for these ads. Bullying is something we can hardly change, but advertisers can change advertisements very easily. The truth is, we DON’T need to prepare ourselves to face society and it’s judgements, because advertisements have manufactured these judgements. They sell ideas that we have accepted, although we say we realize they’re not true. We know beautiful women on the posters don’t even look like that and that photoshop, lighting tricks and tons of makeup create the illusion, but we still find ourselves working out, going on diets and even resorting to plastic surgery to change something about ourselves while we convince ourselves it’s a need that comes from within, rather than from the images that are all throughout.

Advertisements need to show every woman and society needs to treat every woman as beautiful as the next- or is it the other way around? I wish that advertisers would run a campaigns that showed real women, but didn’t need to sell the idea by screaming “THIS US SAYING WE’RE USING REAL WOMEN! WE’RE NOT LIKE THE OTHER GUYS. YOU’RE ALL BEAUTIFUL!” The ad above should not need giant label saying "Yes, she's old and ads don't use people like her. We know you hate this, so here ya go! Buy our stuff because we're the good guys!" It is almost as if the ad is apologizing for itself. Instead, how about ads just represented everyone and no one has to think “Wow, that’s odd that they used HER as a model. I like that.” But instead, look at the ads as normally as we look at the multitude of people around us, seeing nothing wrong, odd or pre-conceived.

'Real Women' ???

In 2010, more than 100 billion dollars were spent in advertisement, in United States alone. This gigantic financial figure reinforces the significance of this form of communication in our modern world. Consumers are constantly bombarded with all kinds of advertisements, knowingly or unknowingly; magazines, radio, television, even film. The best artists are hired and crazy amounts are spent in advertisement with a sole purpose, PROFIT! To persuade the audience to buy their products, services or ideas is their only goal. In order to succeed in a competitive market world, companies will sell more than just a product. In addition, they will sell, “…values, images and concepts of success and worth, love and sexuality, popularity and normalcy.” (Kilbourne, 121) Companies design their advertisements driven by what “sells” and thus is profitable. That is… women and sex.
In a world that is anything but perfect, perfection sells. Young, sexy, beautiful women, with gorgeous bodies, are dominant in advertising. No matter how relevant or irrelevant to the specific product they are, flawless figures (mainly women and mostly white), are the center of advertising. Take as an example this advertisement of a BMW car….Do you see any car? No….just a pretty face! The features of a beautiful woman have replaced that of a car. Absolutely irrelevant to the product (It is a car ad anyway!!!) but….relevant at the same time, because it sells. Beautiful half naked women are dominant in ads. Sexy and desirable, even when they are cleaning their bathrooms. Happy and smiling even in a hospital bed. Women with perfect makeup and hairstyles, even when they just woke up. As Kilbourne states, “She has no lines or wrinkles (which would indicate she had the bad taste and poor judgment to grow older), no scars or blemishes- indeed, she has no pores.” (Kilbourne, 122) Responsible for this picture perfect woman is of course, a product. We should thank the product for the desirable sexy look, even when the product is a bathroom detergent, a beer or dog food!!! “How could it be otherwise? The solution to any problem always has to be a product.” (Kilbourne, 153)

Based on people’s insecurities and individual fears, advertisers create their work to emphasize and remind us, how far away we are from being more desirable and what do we need in order to succeed. Commercials are not left to chance they are well planned and designed with a specific target.
Each one of us. For all our perceived flaws, they have the solution. For all our problems they have the solution. Artificial solutions that might create additional problems even increase our insecurities. All these products that we usually do not need demonstrate how we should look and point out what we must have in order to reach the ideal. This unrealistic portrayal of women is not only totally deceptive, but also unattainable. We only have to look around us. There are millions of women, all unique, all different. How many of us are actually tall and super thin with gorgeous bodies and a ‘drop-dead’ flawless look? Real women do not look like this. “Even the models themselves do not look in the flesh as impeccable as they are depicted in ads.” (Cortese, 54) We consume our time our lives, money, our inner-self, our well-being trying to be something we are not. “…we have become alienated from our own bodies.” (Douglas, 11) We are brainwashed from a young age to look like ‘women in the cover of magazines’ while our self esteem and confidence is being dropped to zero.
This ill of our society that all we value is beauty, more than brain or personality, has been embedded in our societal structure and it is unarguably difficult to change. It is crucial to raise awareness (especially through school…) and deconstruct these images that are not only harmful for women, but also men. There are some exceptions in advertising, but unfortunately they are just that; exceptions and not the rule. Like the Dove campaign, ‘A real Beauty.’
Or the United Colors of Benetton ads, that they are conveying a different message. Portraying real women, with healthier looks and actually dressed (especially if clothes are what they are advertising).

More ‘accurate’ female representation is a step towards a better advertisement. By presenting more realistic figures, ‘everyday women,' with a more natural look, they can help women identify with and ultimately buy the product. Since women do age and do have wrinkles and do have full figures...why not show them? But also … Women are more than body. An innovative advertisement can intrigue consumers. Fresh, diverse, clever, entertaining ideas in advertisement can work. Life is too short and we should not spend it in pursuit of unrealistic improvement. We are smarter than that…. Aren’t we?

Images taken from
Google Images

Ad Council-the alternative to mainstream media

There is a quote somewhere in the readings that says something to the effect of advertising should have a purpose to teach and educate. I can't for the life of me find it anywhere, but I know it's there.

At any rate, when I think of alternatives to mainstream images I think of public health and Ad Council. I have been fortunate to be exposed to the innerworkings of advertising and marketing through a class I took before I started working in public health: Integrated Marketing Communication for Behavioral Impact (IMC/COMBI). my classmates were from health ministries around the world: Bhutan, the Gambia, Namibia, Trinidad and Tobago, Indonesia, Thailand, Ivory Coast. There were representatives from the New York City Department of Health for where I work now, and UNICEF which has an office here in New York.

Just because I am and you are an informed educated individual does not mean you or I will behave the way these methods want us to respond. "Behavioral impact will emerge only with strategically planned communication programs, purposefully directed at behavioral objectives, and not directed just at awareness creation, or advocacy or public education." (Hosein 2) Integrated Marketing Communication is used in the private sector and can be applied to health behaviors. "It requires the integrated application of the disciplines of health education, adult education, mass communication, social and community mobilization, traditional media, marketing (including village-level marketing traditions), advertising, public relations and public advocacy, personal selling and counseling, client/customer relations, and market
research to the ultimate goal of achieving behavioral results." (Hosein 3) In three weeks we covered 6 main topics: communication and behavioral impact, communication techniques, marketing principles and practices, marketing research and program evaluation advertising and public relations: functions and practices, and IMC/COMBI itself. What makes IMC/COMBI different from mainstream is that it focuses on one health behavior.

World Health Organization has used IMC/COMBI to battle a whole host of diseases in the past decade. For me personally, I got to see first hand how IMC/COMBI works for lymphatic filariasis in the Philippines. The program there had already been underway for 2 years. The global elimination efforts for lymphatic filariasis involves mass drug administration to an at risk population and an already infected population. People must take the drugs once a year for at least five years. These campaigns require extensive community participation and complex logistics. Social mobilization is key in these campaigns using formal and informal channels to reach people with the message to take these drugs. National and local politcal leaders, trained health workers, religious leaders and teacher plus the mass media all have a part to play in this social mobilization. They are in a position to use their influence both to get people to accept and support the campaign and to help increase the value that people place on the campaign when they understand its benefits. They use banners and posters, television, films advertisements, etc. to convey this one message.

Perhaps it is unfair for me to focus on advocacy advertising; however it does offer alternatives to the mainstream media and "takes issues into public view by attracting media attention." (Cortese 45) Ad Council has been addressing and impacting America's most critical social issues for almost 70 years. Ad Council has been the leading producer of public service announcements (PSAs) in the United States. It was founded in a time of American crisis: World War II, shortly after the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Ad Council used the power of advertising to influence social responsibility and change behavior and has been creating public service ads ever since. Today the Ad council's mission remains the same which differentiates it from mainstream media: "to identify a select number of significant public issues and stimulate action on those issues through communications programs that make measurable difference in society. To that end, the Ad Council marshals volunteer talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to create awareness, foster understanding and motivate action." (Mission) Advertising agencies from across the nation create the ads pro bono and PSAs are run in donated media time and space.

Ad Council created the iconic Rosie the Riveter and "We can do it" campaign slogan to help recruit more than 2 million women into the workforce during World War II, proving that Ad Council PSAs get results. (Women) Working outside the home became acceptable and even desirable. I find it ironic that this campaign was so successful that women did not want to go back to housework after the war. Before the war ended, magazines focused back on domesticity and "three million American and one million British women were fired or quit their jobs". (Wolf 64)

The Ad Council staff evaluates requests for campaigns. They focus on three categories: community, education, and health and safety. The issue must be of critical importance to to Americans; the message must be appropriate for a PSA and the entity requesting must have national fulfillment capabilities. The entity, a not for profit, present to the proposals committee and defends the appropriateness of inclusion on the Ad Council docket, and upon approval an ad agency is assigned and the campaign length minimum is 3 years. The campaign team members consist of the Ad council, the not for profit sponsor and the volunteer advertising agency.

I wanted to reference the father and his "special moment" with his son in the Log Cabin ad in the Hunger as Ideology article. "The visual image of the father lovingly serving the son undoubtedly destabilizes cultural stereotypes (racial as well as gendered)." (Bordo 119) To counter this ad is now one of my favorite ads from Ad Council. It references fatherhood and it has the visual image of the father loving his daughter which definitely destabilizes the cultural stereotype racially and gendered. An African American father is practicing his daughter's cheer routine with his daughter. It just brings a smile to my face. "The smallest moments can have the biggest impact on a child's life. Take time to be a dad today."

What makes Ad Council different from mainstream media? They are not selling us anything we do not need. Ad Council focuses on individual action that is a solution to a significant public problem. The solution can be offered through advertising. Messages need to be relevant and actionable at the community level. The intended audience is targeted with a proposed call to action. This call to action is measurable result and should be evaluated to assess the success of a campaign. The best PSA is the one that transmits only one compelling central message that we remember: "Only you can prevent forest fires." "Friends don't let friends drive drunk." "Together we can take a bite out of crime."


Bordo, Susan. "Hunger as Ideology" from Unbearable Weight.

Cortese, Anthony. "Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads Sexism in Advertising"

Hosein, Everold. "NYU-WHO IMC 2010 Full Course Announcement." New York: New York University, n.d. Print.

This is from Ad Council's website terms of use: "If you would like to cite/source the website, or any portion of it, as a reference, written permission from the Ad Council is required"; however, I did not have time to get their permission.

"Mission.", Ad Council, n.d. Web. 19 Mar.2011.

"Women in War Jobs-Rosie the Riveter (1942-1945).", Ad Council, n.d. Web. 19 Mar.2011.

Wolf, Naomi. "Culture" from The Beauty Myth.