Ad Critique: Gender Fabulous

Gender Fabulous

I was walking in San Francisco—one of America’s most progressive cities—just a few weeks ago. As I exited the subway in the Mission District, I was confronted with an advertisement encouraging sexual variety and liberation. My girlfriend wasn’t having any of it. She saw the ad as overwhelming and unnecessary, an in-your-face ploy by the city’s LGBTQ community to draw attention to itself. I challenged her on this point, the idea of being seen. I applaud the forward-thinking community’s adoption of an in-your-face tactic. Ads of this sort have a shock factor and they reaffirm that it’s cool to be on the cutting edge of gender and sexuality issues. In fact, it’s fabulous.

In a country in which the LGBTQ community is unfairly charged with proving its merits and that it deserves human rights—to the medical, political, and other communities—this ad is encouraging (Spade). It features an ambiguous human being, dressed half in “men’s” clothes and half in “women’s” clothes. The gender of the person is unidentifiable. Alongside the painting is the phrase “Gender Fabulous,” which is accompanied by a definition of the term “fabulous.” To give some context, this ad is situated amongst a number of other progressive pieces at the subway’s exit. Together, they send a message to visitors and the residents of San Francisco that variety in gender is better than the constricting nature of the current gender binary. Whereas the prevailing heteronormative system delimits what we can and cannot do based on an array of superficial factors, gender diversity facilitates the realization of our potential. I am thrilled to see San Francisco at the forefront of advancing these efforts.

Spade, Dean. “Resisting Medicine, Re/modeling Gender.” Berkeley Women’s Law Journal (2003): 15-37. Print.

Gender Fabulous. Advertisement. 13 Oct. 2013: n. pag. Print.


One thought on “Ad Critique: Gender Fabulous

  1. lbers1016

    I think this ad does push the boundary beyond the gender binary of male and female to include the notion of gender variability. The split of the body, one side clearly male and one side clearly female, is quite shocking to the eye. This shock factor gets your attention and these are the ads that will likely have an impact on the viewer. If you can get the viewer’s attention, then you have a chance at influencing his or her attitudes or behavior, which can be extremely powerful. Hopefully, this ad challenges people to see beyond the binary.

    I think the ad would be stronger, however, if the division of the body continued through the head. Although the head is supposed to appear genderless, I feel like people could confuse it for a girl or a boy, which then changes the meaning of the ad. Is this an ad about cross-dressing? Gender neutral clothing?

    No it is not, and that is why I think the head should have been divided so that the gender binary is further exemplified as a strict line that divides the two sexes–a line that is clearly dissolving in the San Francisco area, and hopefully, in other cities as well.


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