Does Advertising Promote Inequality?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

               Everywhere you look advertising is telling us how we should look, dress, and act. Driving down the highway you see billboards, checking your Facebook you see side ads, and watching your favorite sitcom you encounter dozens of commercials. Although the products they are advertising are different, the message behind them seems to be the same.
                After viewing a short film called ‘Killing Us Softly’ in a Social Inequality course here at Eastern Connecticut State University, I became much more aware, and offended, by the fact that women in advertising are used as sexual objects and second class citizens. In the film, Jean Kilbourne shares her passion and analytical view on advertisements specifically those featuring women. Jean’s funny and witty nature captivates the audience so she can truly get her point across. Jean says although most of us think we are immune to advertisings effects, we aren’t. She states “The fact is that much of advertising's power comes from this belief that advertising does not affect us. The most effective kind of propaganda is that which is not recognized as propaganda. Because we think advertising is silly and trivial, we are less on guard, less critical, than we might otherwise be. It's all in fun, it's ridiculous. While we're laughing, sometimes sneering, the commercial does its work.”
Subconsciously these advertisements are telling us that women are unintelligent sexualized objects that are good for pleasing men, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children; ideas that are extremely dated but still shown to us on a daily basis in a way where most people won’t realize or be offended. Think of the last Windex or Swiffer advertisement you saw…who was the main character? My guess is that it was a woman who was cleaning up after her family; correct me if I’m wrong. Then there are the cologne ads which are so sexualized we hardly even know what they are selling. To prove this I Goggled “cologne” and on the first page of results this is what I found…

If I saw this ad in passing I would have absolutely no idea what it was selling. By taking a closer look, yes, technically it does say the cologne is called “Obsession for men” by Calvin Klein, but still how does the photo in this ad correlate to cologne? Maybe if you wear it a gorgeous supermodel will show up naked at your doorstep? This is just one of many examples of how advertising uses and degrades women to nothing more than sexual objects.
                It is important for all women and those who support gender equality to make a change. By consuming these ads we are saying that women are less than men, less than human, and not worthy of the same respect of their opposing gender. For ways to make a difference visit for ideas and organizations that challenge destructive media images.


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