Nathan Ryan Reeves

Gender in Advertising Confirmation

As far back as I could remember there’s this effect from gender in the natural world, and how advertisers base their ads off of gender specific traits and emotions. It’s an obvious detail that I never put much thought into (just like every other concept in this class up to this point) and never thought bad about it. It just felt normalized and analyzing it gives me a better understanding of the topic. Hope questions what makes up an advertisement gendered environment, what visuals are most common, and how has this advertising affected depicted gendered environments.

For selling products it has always been the same for decades in most cases, men get advertised more manly products, and women get advertised more feminine products. In the reading, there is a great example of this in the defining characteristics of two ads, one for Niagara Falls, and another for the Panama Canal. The gendered environments are obvious where the Niagara Falls advertisement depicts a woman as the falls, the sight of the woman in the falls, still and elegantly posed under a rainbow, meant to personify the beauty of the falls.  Notice that she is one with the environment in the image, personifying the falls itself.

“Depicted as a voluptuous woman, the waterfall is a sign of nature’s unending fertility; she stands passively, a figure of seduction.”

On the other hand, you have the advertisement for the Panama Canal, depicting a muscular man ripping apart the landscape, and using his power to go against the forces of nature. This contrast to the feminine advertisement is point blank obvious that the themes surrounding the advertisements, where the male advertisements focus on strength and prowess, while the female advertisements focus on femininity and being more passive than the latter.

“Not unlike the image of Hercules, the 21st-century cowboy has work to do, and as in numerous images of “Marlboro Country” the male figure acts upon his environment, exerting control through his physical prowess. The “big country” defines advertising’s masculinized environment and excepting the occasional cowboy or Indian, space is there for urban man to play at adventure”

Not to mention there is more of a sense of “adventure” when advertising comes to masculinity in advertisements. Not saying that in the present day there aren’t ads where women are reflected as being adventurous, but it is definitely more common now than those older advertisements.

A quote stood out towards the back end of the article where, Hope writes about why this gender-based advertising works, while also relating it back to identity and general consumption of products.

“Largely composed of photographic images, contemporary advertisements appear to depict “real people” and “real” places… commodity consumption is necessary for the maintenance of gender identity in advertising’s stories, advertising must create mythic natural environments immune to the consequences of consumerism…”

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