Phillip Wade Wilson

Gendered Environments – Confirmation

“Advertising’s promotion of overconsumption – most frequently through constructs of gender identity – is a major link between overproduction and environmental degradation”

In the advertisement I am using for my MP2 project, gender roles play a huge part in how the women and men in the advertisement interact with the environment. As Hope explains in chapter seven, “Gendered Environments: Gender and the Natural World in the Rhetoric of Advertising”, when referenced in relation to nature women are depicted as consumers and men are made out to be producers in advertising. This very aspect is present in all the scenes of women and men in nature.

Women are shown to be one with nature. A woman looks over the mountainous region of the Middle East. A woman walks gently in soft sand leaving only a shallow footprint behind her, even being sure to step over low hanging palm leaves. A woman is washing her face in the waters of an oasis as the sun gently shines through on her. All of these representations show women interacting with the environment in a way that shows she has the utmost care for her surroundings and all, like Hope’s characteristics state, are slim and acting passively to nature almost as if they give the earth the consent to dominate them. Hope explains that women are not compared to the earth but rather they are the earth, and in relation to the way men are represented it makes sense they are positioned this way.

Men are the opposite, where women look as if the earth is dominating them, men look as if they are dominating the earth. And as I stated before it should be no surprise women are in a passive position because these advertisements are playing on the gender roles society has semiologicaly created for men and women. In the advertisement I am using for my project, a man takes the lead in a hike through a mountainous region with a woman, a man is already waiting for the woman who is coming outside, a man is diving down into the Arabian Gulf to hunt for clams, a man cracks open a clam and reveals a pearl. In all of these situations, men are not solely dominating the environment but also the scenes where they are interacting with women. Even when the man finds the pearl, the next scene shows a woman wearing what is to be assumed a necklace from that very pearl – they cast the man as the producer and the woman as the consumer.

Though the bigger picture here is the use of these romantic and gender-based scenes to distract from the overconsumption and overuse of our environments across the globe. Many of the ads Hope refers to seem to be targeted toward Americans, yet this advertisement is a global one meant to attract the wealthiest citizens from around the world. Due to the constant construction, oil extraction, and overall global warming, the United Arab Emirates rivals the United States for the largest consumerist and consumptionist nation. While this is a travel advertisement, so the goal is to make it look as great as possible to get people to come, the use of human interaction with pristine waters and endless foliage essentially undercuts the reality of the situation. It makes me wonder, what it would really be like to visit since the advertisement almost seems like a work of propaganda (I have attached it below in a link).

Ehren Joseph Layne

Opinion Piece

*This piece is purely an opinion piece: I kind of just ramble and let my thoughts flow freely. *

More and more I’ve grieved for the current state of the world. California is on fire, a deadly disease has turned the world upside down, Russia is Russia, the polar ice caps are melting, and so on, but as much as I grieve for these disasters, I more so grieve over the loss of individuality. We’ve been programmed to believe that our presence online is, to some degree or another, positive; we connect with others, we are free to express ourselves, and was have instant access to a wide breadth of information. We feel so much glee for having the ability to learn whatever, whenever, and share our views on what we’ve learned whenever and wherever. I am happy that I can google a word and don’t have to go through the strenuous process of opening a dictionary and searching for the first letter of whatever word and so on and so forth; having instant access to everything is such an indescribable feeling that it terrifies me that I can’t describe it. We have become numbers. Literally. Corporations create products that make us believe that we are special when in reality we are nothing but dollar signs and algorithms. It has come to a point where the US has now taken into custody big tech corporations and accuse them of commodifying our sense of self-worth and self-identity. Instagram’s like button, Facebook’s poke feature, Twitter’s retweet function; each of these simple programs made to make us feel like we are worth a damn, have actually made us worth a few cents. Every like, every retweet, every poke is another dollar in the pocket of Wall Street’s mega businesses, and I have been mourning the death of genuine feelings of individuality. I often judge myself for playing into social media’s many demons(and as of September I have not used Instagram nor Twitter) but then find myself having to stop and recontextualize why I play into them. It isn’t because I’m weak-minded(I hope). It isn’t because I lack the willpower to choose. It isn’t because I’m stupid or arrogant or incapable of understanding how effective social media is at directing both my conscious and subconscious. It’s because I don’t matter. It’s because I am, for lack of better phrasing, nothing. I am just another product that has been paid for. I am just another product that has been sold. My information, my dignity, my self-worth, are all now 1’s and 0’s that Instagram can plug into an equation that summates to me. Social media has used me, to make me, and I am now only a number, or figure, that they use to make a fortune. I am so terrified of how big tech has, with little resistance, puppet-mastered the whole world. I try being hopeful but it feels too much a labour for only me to carry. To believe, to hope, feels heavy, because at the end of the day, I am just somebody else’s profit. I am just another number. I no longer equate to me.

Phillip Wade Wilson

Commonplace – The Role(s) of Gender in Advertising

Understanding where the aspects of the advertisement industry originate is quite intriguing given the role that advertisements have on popular culture and society as a whole. I could always see that women were deemed as “consumers” by the advertisement world given the commonly held notion that women like to shop, and men do not; whereas, men have always believed they need to be the ‘man of the house’ so-to-speak and be the breadwinner for the family. Growing up I always found this idea to be a bit ridiculous for two reasons. The first being I am a man, and I like to shop. The second being that my mother was the breadwinner in my family and was the producer, provider, and consumer not just one thing. Many of my friends who lived in single-parent households understood this as well, the socially constructed idea of gender is just that, socially constructed.

“Nature was controlled by men who were smart enough to exploit its resources for production, whereas women were privileged as the primary consumers responsible for the health of families and the maintenance of new standards of beauty and glamour.”

In my mind, the semiotics of gender, male, female, and intersex all differ greatly, though intersex is often unrepresented even in our society today. For reasons I do not fully grasp myself it seems that most of this is due to categorization and unawareness. As Hill and Helmers stated, men have the power, and women are given the opportunity to consume because of men. It seems that advertisements just proliferate gender and class struggle simultaneously by telling people what they ought to hold as ‘the ideal family’ or ‘American dream’ in their heads. Obviously, in order to advertise something, you must market it to a targeted group and categorize that group because you want the people in that group to buy it and get another advertisement contract to make more money. However, as we have seen in the past with practically any group this is how some stereotypes are created and some stereotypes are exacerbated.

The way advertisements have been marketed toward people, specifically women and men as aligns with the gender roles they established, have backfired occasionally. One that comes to mind is the diamond market. It only became common for men to buy women a diamond ring within the last century or so, due to advertising by using the social norm that the man must propose to the woman. Their advertisement slogan “A diamond is forever” (photograph below of this ad) was hugely successful but this was only in one aspect, engagement rings. Due to their marketing strategy diamonds were given the social construction of being for women from men for a wedding ring. This made it nearly impossible to sell diamonds to men or even to get women to buy their own diamond rings. While consumerism played a huge role in their first ploy to increase sales, because of their use of gender they could no longer push consumerist rhetoric other than to increase the diamond size a man would buy for his fiancée.

I find this commonplace established by the editors is quite brilliant and insightful because it will be useful come time to analyze any advertisement in the future. It seems that gender will always be present in advertising in some capacity, and this reading has given me a few strategies for analysis and what to look for. Since our reading and introduction to semiotics, analysis has seemed a tad easier and definitely useful in the assertion of claims.

Advertisement used by De Beers to be able to sell more diamonds
Simona Barca

Gendered Environments

In “Defining Visual Rhetorics,” the author makes use of very descriptive ekphrasis to detail advertisements and their use of gender roles and perspectives relative to environments in order to reach their audience and sell their product. The description of gender use in specific environments showed that time period’s attitudes towards the femininity and masculinity of fresh-aired nature environments versus polluted, brutalist industrial environments. It also signified the strict gender roles of this time period: specifically that women’s roles were to clean up after the men’s industrial mess, as described in the article with the advertisement for soap. The author’s use of ekphrasis helps the reader see the visuals of the ad he is talking about without actually looking at it but simply relying on the author’s description. The reader can see not only the ad but how the ad was used to express a view of gender roles and the environment that reflected society’s views at the time and was advantageous for selling their products.

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…”

Samuel James Conroy

Confirmation Progymnasmata AD

Confirmation Progymnasmata

            Diane Hope does a deep look into the advertising world, particularly surrounding how men and women are portrayed in advertising. At the end of the day, an ad is trying to sell you a commodity, which means it is going to show you whatever the advertising company best believes will sell this product. Gender is a defining element in advertising. Since overconsumption and environmental degradation are becoming an ever-growing issue, advertising firms need to cover up these issues through their creative imagery, typically surrounding gender. This goes as far back as the ads for the Buffalo Pan American Exposition of 1901.

“Niagara,” personifies the 156 HOPE great falls as a slim young woman (see Fig. 7.1). She stands under a rainbow—still and posed, the fertile shape of breasts and legs revealed by her diaphanous gown as it is transformed into cascades of water that fall from her outstretched arms to the encircling river” (Hope).

The image can be seen here:

Then, for the San Francisco Panama Pacific International Exposition, a similar advertisement was done, except this time is was a man resembling Hercules. The advertisement shows the man splitting North and South America to create the Panama Canal.

The image can be seen here:

In the Hercules ad, masculinity is shown be how he is defining the land around him and literally shaping the earth, while for the Niagara ad, “Nature feminized is a seductive object of our gaze” (Hope). Overall, advertising has always painted a feminized environment as an attractive woman who is seductive in nature, while the man is a dominant force that shapes the world around him.

Aongus Mui

Gendered Environments – Diane Hope

Defining Visual Rhetoric – Diane Hope
Progym: Confirmation

In the essay written by Diane Hope, she demonstrates the use of rhetorical advertisement strategies which used the body of women to make the ad more appealing. Hope states “Especially strategic to the rhetoric of gendered environments is advertisement’s cultural ubiquity.” She goes in depth on how society pictures women. An example would be how advertisements involving women are associated with brighter colors to represent a more relaxed and laid back vibe. According to Hope, “Advertisements produced over the last half of the 20th century promoting products to increase a women’s femininity offer remarkably similar images of nature as background to erotic fantasies.” The main objective of the advertisements appears to be depicting women as easygoing and always in the light, as shown by the lighter colors present in many advertisements. Hope’s explanation of how women are portrayed in advertisements is very fitting and does most definitely true.

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.





Samuel E Evans

“Gendered Environments: Gender and the Natural World in the Rhetoric of Advertising” by Hope

Progym: Confirmation

Advertising nearly always utilizes the attributes and mentality of the viewer, using common cultural queues to portray their product in a certain light. Diane Hope writes about this in her essay on “Gendered Environments,” in which she discusses the use of gendered imagery within natural environments to sell commercial goods. This is a common and clear trope, as seen in the Jeep advertisement above. Her description of this helps show how abundant it is in the ads we see day to day, in everything from the color palettes to the use of certain actors, and of course natural landscapes.

She writes that advertising capitalizes on our affinity towards our gender identity, using this to “cloak the impact of consumption on the environment” and portray their product as a part of that environment, or embodying its nature or gendered attributes in some way (156). She uses examples such as a 1915 ad portraying the Niagara Falls as a young and slender woman, in which

“depicted as a voluptuous woman, the waterfall is a sign of natures unending fertility,” (157).

The falls, ever-flowing, are like the youth and luxuriance of this woman, or so the ad implies. Advertisements such as these, she says, are not only capitalizing on our identities but also reinforcing old perspectives on gender, as well as destructive consumerist views of the environment. In another example, Hope discusses a Marlboro ad showing “the attractiveness of the mystical west for ‘real’ men,” implying a very rigid and traditional view of the role of men (160). In this way, gendered environments are a powerful rhetorical strategy for advertising, though also a potentially damaging one.

Outside of the essay, we can see examples of this imagery in advertisements all around us. Returning to my Jeep example, we see dark, rustic imagery, both in the natural background and the chosen color for the Jeep itself and the clothes of the man who sits atop it. The man is fit, bearded, and wearing blue jeans and a leather jacket. The image oozes outdoorsman ethos, and this is what Jeep is trying to sell, as they try to use traditionally masculine and environmental visual rhetoric in this ad. They are trying to sell Jeeps, in a not-so-concealed manner, using the tactics that Hope describes in a very overt way. This is why Hope’s argument is so accurate, it can be seen everywhere and is often abundantly clear when you notice it. It is also something worth being concerned about, as it is potentially harmful in multiple ways. First, it can be damaging to our natural spaces as the environments used to sell these products are destroyed in said good’s production and use. Second, these ads enforce old gender norms and exploit consumers’ identities for financial gain. This makes Hope’s observations particularly pertinent and useful.

Catherine Dodd Corona

Defining Visual Rhetorics

Advertising History and Gendered Environments. By: Diane S. Hope 

Progymnasmata: Refutation

While the majority of Hope’s arguments are valid and backed up with firm evidence there is a small claim she makes that is not true. In the beginning of the section titled “Advertising History and Gendered Environments” she argues that advertising companies in the 20th century were aware and did not try to cover the harmful effects of advertising commodity consumption. She writes, “ advertising did not hide the production process nor its effects on nature. Advertising’s paradoxical images extolled the benefits of modernity and mass production while insisting that commodity purchases reaffirmed traditional values.” While her argument that advertising caused environmental despair is correct, she negates to share that advertisement companies did in fact hide the “production process” and its effects on nature. Proven by the example of the Crying Indian advertisement. 

The Crying Indian advertisement was produced by the Keep America Beautiful and anti-littering foundation, in 1971. The scene opens on an American Indian rowing in a traditional canoe down a scenic river, the background then shrifts from lush trees to factories and smokestacks. The American Indian docks his canoe on a shore bed and the background shifts again to traffic, a man throws his trash out of a car and it lands at the American Indians feet. The camera zooms in on his disheartened face as a single tear trickles down his face, while the deep voiced narrator says, “People start pollution. People can stop it.” 

The Keep America Beautiful foundation was made up of the biggest plastic polluters in the world. Comprising thirty companies total, some notable figures are Dixie Cup Co., and Coca Cola but before their contribution the company was founded by American Can Co. and Owens-Illinois Glass Co in 1953.

These companies were not just trying to help clean up what they produced, they were actively against many environmental initiatives. Including the “bottle bills”, a set of proposed bills to mitigate the use of one-use plastic bottles. Keep American Beautiful lobbied so hard against these bills they once labeled the bottle bill supporters as “communist”. Even ten years before the Crying Indian premier, Keep America Beautiful coined the term “Litterbug”. 

Joining with the Ad Council in 1960, a character, Susan Spotless, prompted anti-littering tag-lines such as “Don’t be a litterbug” and “Every litter bit hurts”. This foundation and foundations like it shifted the responsibility of keeping the world clean from the producers to the consumers and it has remained a deeply systemic problem since. The power for change was no longer in the multimillion-dollar corporation but instead it lied on the shoulders of the individual American. Because of these advertising efforts the bottle bills were dropped, and one-use plastics skyrocketed.

This example not only exemplifies Hope’s argument that advertising companies forced American consumers to switch from traditional long lasting commodities to easily replaceable products while still supporting “traditional values”, but it also shows that companies were intentional about subliminal messaging. They did try to hide their intentions. They created companies that fought for one value when in reality they were trying to distract and deter people from the real issue. This contradicts Hope’s point that, “advertising did not hide the production process nor its effects on nature.”. They did try to sweep it under the rug, and distract the consumer from their real intentions. While that one claim is not valid, the evidence that proves its validity also supports her main aim that advertisement companies shifted the way of buying and selling consumer goods.