Paula I Arraiza

Portrayal of Women and Men in Advertisement

Progym: Comparison

In order to get her point across, Hope spends a lot of time comparing advertisements that focused on women to those that focus on men. The characteristics used in each type of advertisement are similar to gender norms society expects each gender to follow, with women being more sensual and passive and men being more adventurous and dominant. She uses examples of various advertisements, from the Buffalo Pan American’s depiction of Niagara Falls as a woman to Marbolo advertisements that feature cowboys.  She compares the relationship both types of ads have to nature, stating that women tend to be a part of nature in advertisements, while men are seen as individuals who enjoy nature. Hope states that

“Advertisements that portray an unspoiled natural world as feminized picture a fertile passive earth ready for erotic seduction, available for pleasure, and infinite in bounty. In contrast, masculinized environments present the earth as a vast wilderness created for conquest, adventure and challenge.” (162)

She explains different ways ads achieve this, talking about how the colors used in each type represent each gender, with those representing women showcasing brighter colors and those that depict men using darker tones. All of this works together to create the image each type wants to showcase in regard to each gender;

“Woman and nature are sites for erotic play or nurture of men and children. Color palettes reflect the shades of the tropics, emphasizing multihued greens of plants and water, golds, yellows and whites of diluted sunshine, and muted pastels with small spots of bright reds, blues and purples. Image focus is often soft.” (160)

“The features of these advertisements emphasize a mythic world where men play at heroics and a vast environmental wilderness promises control and adventure. Nature is the object of conquest or background for demonstrations of power. Iconic representations feature rocks, hard edges, deserts, mountain ranges, canyons, snowy peaks, bright sunshine and wide skies. Colors are typically high contrast and dramatic and frequently reflect the reds, browns, blues and whites of the west “ (161-162)

The main focus of these advertisements seems to be depicting women as more abstract and docile, while men are more concrete and active. This is shown through various details in the advertisements, such as the colors and details used in each one. Similar to the role women are expected to play of being more passive and submissive toward men, while men are expected to be tough and dominant. Through her comparison and explanation of the depiction of men and women in ads, what she seems to be getting at, at least in my opinion, is the fact that men and women are perceived differently by society and thus advertisements play into these perceptions in order to appeal to a certain type of public.





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