Runway Woman

In this target ad, we see a young and thin, white, blonde-haired woman dressed in white walking down a white runway in white heels. The pure, monochrome white from wall to wall serves to set the scene sometime in the future. As the woman walks down the runway with whisk in hand, bags of muffin and cake mix explode on either side of her as she passes them.

The woman is the typical Target-demographic: middle class, white, female, married. As she walks, the exploding mixes feel like a (pretty bad) reference to a male, phallic presence not seen in the commercial. Also, the woman is being stereotyped as a baker, the job of a woman in a kitchen. This is a limited and very sexist role of a female, solely based off the fact that she is biologically a woman; not to mention, it is a ridiculous assumption of a person based on their appearance, gender aside. In this way, “sex leads to gender ” ideas are heard, loud and clear. Finally, setting the commercial in the future sends a message that suggests that women will always be stereotyped and that gender-normative roles will still be around in the future. This commercial does nothing to provoke thought or to compel change, and thus is a very large gender-conservative and non-progressive step in the wrong direction.

Carmichael, Matt. “The Demographics of Retail.” Advertising Age. AdAge.com, 9 Mar. 2012. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://adage.com/article/adagestat/demographics-retail/233399/&gt;.

Delphy, Christine. “Rethinking Sex and Gender.” In Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives, by Carole R. McCann and Seung-Kyung Kim, 57-67. New York: Routledge, 2003, 62.

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2 thoughts on “Runway Woman

  1. taylorstokes19

    I completely agree with you that this commercial is ridiculous. It portrays women as their gendered stereotype as being “the homemaker.” The ending of the commercial added the final punch when it calls for women to “dominate that PTA bake sale,” as if women are only good for baking and being the ideal member of their child’s school’s PTA.

    This Target commercial just shows how far America still has to come. Although the country claims that it is progressive, in reality it is very traditional and conservative. Americans want to fight for equal rights, but still expect women to fulfill their roles of wives and mothers. America has a habit of contradicting itself with what it promotes and its belief in equality. This contradicting message can be confusing to young girls who are growing up in today’s society and who do not know what to believe: should they be they traditional wife and mother, or should they pursue their dreams and be career-driven independent women?

    Reply
  2. sewilson17

    While I don’t really agree about the implication that this ad is set in the future or implies that oppressive ideas about femininity and masculinity will last forever, I definitely find the messages in this commercial to be problematic. The linking of female sexuality, PTA bake sales, cooking and symbols for male pleasure ultimately communicates one idea to the viewer: that women’s value lies in their femininity/sexuality and their femininity is strictly dependent on their ability to turn men on, take care of the home, and make great cake. While the subtext may appear to be that women can do and have it all, in reality it’s just creating a check list for the ideal woman. Not only is the implication that physical beauty is central to female identity but it also wraps traditional gender roles into this concept of beauty and sexuality so that women are altogether characterized as pleasure givers and dependent on the satisfaction of men and family.

    Reply

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