Nothing turns a man on like a “hot” woman cooking in the kitchen, and nothing sells a man’s deodorant like the fantasy of female servitude. This tasteless ad for Lynx deodorant (which features a shapely twenty-something female, cooking dinner while dressed in lingerie) objectifies women and reinforces domestic inequality. Like the turkey that she is preparing, the woman’s life is devalued, and she exists merely to satisfy a man’s appetite. The accompanying text: “Can she make you lose control?” reinforces the desirability of women whose sole purpose is to serve. As a final touch, the ad’s retro styling cleverly reminds men of an era that predates the Women’s Movement, when a woman’s place was in the home, and a man’s home was his “castle.”
This ad features the type of gender stereotyping and sexist attitudes that have perpetuated a patriarchal system in the home. Belkin notes that women have made progress in the workplace, but still shoulder the majority of domestic responsibilities (4). As implied by Lynx, some men are not only oblivious to this unfairness, but find the power differential to be a “turn on.”
Although the ad has been effective in boosting sales, it is primarily geared towards white heteronormative males and has limited appeal to specific segments of the population. From the perspective of an African American male, the image of servitude may be a distasteful reminder of the master-slave dynamic and trigger repulsion rather than attraction. When seen through the eyes of a homosexual female, the sexual intent of this ad may be confusing. Since domestic responsibilities are shared more equally in same-sex couples (Belkin 13), doing housework is routine for both partners and unlikely to be perceived as sexually “hot.”
Belkin, Lisa. “When Mom and Dad Share It All.” The New York Times 15 June 2008: 1-15. Print.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9HMhSvnbmk This ad for the Samsung Smart TV perpetuates outdated assumptions about a man’s assumed role in the household. In the ad, we see a woman fantasizing about “upgrading” her husband’s role in the household just as she would a Samsung TV. In her dream, we see the man cooking, taking care of the baby, cleaning, and preparing dinner for his wife only to have the fantasy abruptly end and return to reality where the man sits around on the couch grunting like a caveman and eating food like a slob. The stereotyped representation of what a typical man looks like is so exaggerated that the man is literally sitting in a mess in a crumbs and farting while the woman is neat and put together. The portrayal of men as such is merely a stereotype and the idea of an “evolution” of the household dynamic as a futuristic concept is clearly outdated. As Belkin wrote, when it comes to changing stereotypical household responsibilities, “the perception of flexibility is itself a matter of perception” (5). The dynamic of the home can easily change if the couple is willing to make changes. If men in Sweden willingly take paternal leave, clearly not all men need to be technologically “upgraded.” Belkin, Lisa. “When Mom and Dad Share It All.” NY Times. 15 June 2008. Web. 01 Dec 2013. Bennhold, Katrin. “In Sweden, Men Can Have It All.” NY Times. 9 June 2010. Web. 01 Dec 2013.
“This beauty is fast and easy.” “She’s expensive but worth it.” “Ride her hard and then get a new one.” Is this a sexist male talking about his female lover, or about his luxury sports car? BMW would like consumers to equate the image of a “hot” young female with their “hot” new vehicle. This ad (which features a handsome, forty-something male making love to a woman whose head is covered with a photo of a red sports car) clearly objectifies and devalues women. The faceless woman lacks an identity and is exchangeable for any other woman or object in the man’s life. The line that runs across the ad: “The ultimate attraction,” reinforces the devaluation of women by implying that they are a compromise. Research has shown that objectifying a person into an “it” is the first step towards violence, and Hooks cautions the objectification of women is endemic to our “rape culture.” Unfortunately, there are signs that women are starting to objectify men. This may especially be the case for successful white women who are focused more on career advancement than a committed relationship (see the article about Penn hook up culture: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/fashion/sex-on-campus-she-can-play-that-game-too.html).
People from a lower socioeconomic level may view the ad as disturbing because it suggests that people with money (both males and females) tend to objectify others. Although mutual objectification in heterosexual relationships appears to reflect sexual equality, it is a dangerous interactional pattern that can lead to social alienation and a profound sense of loneliness for both sexes, regardless of their material success.