Tag Archives: objectification

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Virtual strippers sell the clothes they take off…?

The premise behind this “social striptease” is that by linking your facebook or twitter accounts to the website link provided you can command a virtual model to remove his/her clothing. By clicking on a particular clothing piece, the virtual model removes it and an advertisement for it gets posted to your social media account. This advertising strategy absolutely reinforces the ultra thin standards of the slender body as outlined by Bordo. But perhaps more disturbing, is the interactive nature of voyeuristic consumption. As opposed to a still image magazine ad, or a 30 second tv spot, these semi naked bodies are created explicitly for the desiring gaze of the customer. Moreover, the interactive interface actually sutures the customer into a position of power over the sexualized body, and creates a bizarre power structure that encourages the objectification of the virtual body.  At least they are egalitarian in their objectification, providing both male and female virtual models.

Bordo, Susan. Unbearable Weight. Berkley: University of California Press. 1993

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http://www.buzzfeed.com/spenceralthouse/3-minutes-that-prove-how-the-media-failed-women-in-2013

Buzzfeed recently posted an article about “The Representation Project” that is fighting to change the way women are represented in media. Included was a powerful three minute video that demonstrated how media failed women in 2013. A lot of the example were reminiscent of the ones we saw in “Dreamworlds” and “Killing Us Softly”, but the sexist excerpts from politicians, news anchors, and radio really left a lasting impression. Seeing women put down and objectified in advertisements and commercials is (unfortunately) not surprising anymore, but the comments from well respected and influential people is. Being at a university that advocates so much from women and equality has put me in a bubble, and now I am shocked by the ignorant and ridiculous comments from the rest of the world. Take a couple minutes and watch the video as well. 

#solidarityisforwhiteartists: the oppressive nature of a white artist’s message

Lily Allen’s music video for her single, “Hard Out Here”, is yet another installment of how white artists implicitly add a racial dialogue to deliver and solidify their messages. What is oppression? Oppression is when your culture and bodies become tools to promote white artist’s careers and criticisms of society. It is how musicians’s “anti-consumerist” messages have been embedded in consumerism closely associated with hip-hop and thusly African American culture. In “Hard Out Here”, Allen asserts that you would never hear her talk about her chains.  In becoming “anti-consumerist”, Allen only targets one type of consumer: African Americans. Oppression is also having your body become hypersexualized and on display in an effort to critique sexism while reinforcing negative stereotypical representations of your identity. Allen, while fully clothed, is surrounded by mostly women of color who are: twerking in bikini coverage style outfits, provocatively touching themselves, and dowsing themselves in champagne. Although this video is meant to be a parody, Allen’s representation of African American women just reinforces racist tropes about them in music videos. Oppression of this nature between women is nothing new, as bell hooks pointed out that “sexism is perpetuated by institutional and social structures” (127). The institution of racism still permeates our society and divides our women’s movement, as seen in the popular twitter movement over the summer started by Mikki Kendal #solidarityisforwhitewomen. There’s much to do for gender equality, but if we’re getting there through putting other women and cultures down, can we really call it progress?

Works Cited:

Hooks, Bell. “SISTERHOOD: Political Solidarity Between Women.” Feminist Review 23 (1986): 125-138. Print.

Ad Critique: Minajesty

This advertisement follows the typical expectation for fragrance marketing: a gorgeous, highly feminine white woman and the suggestion that using that perfume will give the consumer those same narrow traits. Only this portrayal is more offensive and unnatural than that; though the woman looks authentically white with her bleach blond hair and lightened skin, she is actually hip-hop artist and woman of Trinidadian descent Nicki Minaj. This decolorization (for lack of a better word) is the marketing counterpart of the cinematic racism that bell hooks described in Oppositional Gaze, or the “violent erasure of black womanhood.” Instead of portraying Nicki in a less stereotypically white way or perhaps revealing her true ancestry, she follows the mainstreams of white representation. This ad reveals the ridiculous ideal of white womanhood that Killing Us Softly 4 alluded to. It caters to white audiences, while implicitly telling women of color that the ideal of whiteness is supreme.

And beyond the marketing sphere, this advertisement is also disappointing in the larger context of Nicki Minaj’s career. Nicki is one of the few salient female artists in hip hop, and as such, she holds the potential to be influential in an industry mostly dominated by misogyny and the objectification of women. But instead of using this power to become an empowered role model for female audiences and a defiance of objectification, she lapses into the familiar narrative of an ethereal and sexualized princess. Also, the appearance of the perfume bottle in the bottom left hand corner literally objectifies her, as her torso and head compose the perfume bottle, a literal object. Instead of Nicki being a subversive force in advertising and hip-hop, with this ad she merely corroborates both white supremacy and female objectification.

Sexism and Objectification: PETA’s Advocacy Strategy for Animal Rights

Peta has been criticized recently in the news for their new birth control slogan, “Plan V”, which tells women they can lose weight through veganism to regain access to Plan B (Williams). However, this is not the first time Peta has used sexism to advance its views or associated veganism with a slender female body.

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Photo Courtesy of Business Insider. 

Take for instance this advertisement featuring Pamela Anderson, that has accompanied much of the reporting on ‘Plan V’. This print campaign that circulated in 2010 emphasizes two common problems in Peta advertisements. Firstly, it sells the value of veganism through hypersexualized displays of female bodies. Seen here, Anderson, who is bikini clad and provocatively posed, is reinforcing to female audiences that slenderness is the ideal female figure (Bordo, 205). It also continues a long standing trend in advertising that sex, and specifically the female sex, sells. Secondly, it sells the value of animals rights through the fragmentation and objectification of female bodies. In the advert, Anderson’s body is sectioned off like pieces of meat you would find at a butcher’s. Hesse-Biber asks “how much does it cost to be preoccupied with parts?” (66). Killbourne, in her documentary Killing Us Softly 4, shows that fragmentation leads to objectification, a main contributing notion behind violence against women. This ad explicitly equates a woman’s body with meat, which could instill objectifying notions in the male audience viewing this ad. Overall, although Peta advocates for animal rights, we should really question at what cost is it’s message getting across?

Works Cited:

Bordo, Susan. “Reading the Body Slender.” Unbearable Weight. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Hesse-Biber, Sharlene N. “Selling the Body Beautiful: Food, Dieting, and Recovery.” The Cult of Thinness. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Killing Us Softly 4. Dir. Jean Kilbourne. Perf. n/a. Media Education Foundation, 2010. DVD.

Williams, Mary E. “PETA’s ridiculous new birth control stunt.” Salon 3 December 2013. http://www.salon.com/2013/12/03/petas_ridiculous_new_birth_control_stunt/

 

Pine-Sol’s Cleaning Fantasy

This Pine-Sol television commercial shows a woman coming home to find a muscular, shirtless guy mopping her floor. The screen then pans to this female character blissfully lounging in her bed as he continues to mop, surrounded by bottles of Pine-Sol. The campaign uses the almost ubiquitous methods of objectification and sex appeal to play to the potential fantasies of buyers, though in this case the typical situation is reversed between genders. In this particular case, the male is being objectified, and at no point is his full body shown. Instead, the camera focuses on his torso and arms. Additionally, in order to further create the environment of a fantasy, effects such as overly dramatic music and lighting and panning of the camera are used.

The commercial can be viewed from two different perspectives, with one as reinforcing gender norms and one as a progressive step towards equality in gender portrayal. On the one hand, while this is playing to a female sexual fantasy rather than a male one, it can be seen as reinforcing the fact that it is not typical/not the role of the man to be doing housework – i.e. why it would be a “fantasy.” Additionally, the marketers know/suggest that the primary target audience of these ads and subsequently the product, are women, and the use of a heteronormative fantasy continues to reinforce “the assignment of household work to women” (Cowan 151) which, as Cowan shows, was continually supported throughout the twentieth century, and the idea that they are the ones both buying and using household-related products.

On the other hand, the fact that advertisers are willing to play to a woman’s fantasy rather than a man’s for once is an exception itself. Additionally, this ad can also be seen as progressive as African-American actors are used to portray these characters, rather than the typical white characters found in almost every other advertisement. If anything, the commercial is atypical and will certainly catch people’s attention. If in this process a discussion is begun on gender roles/race, then I think it is certainly a positive thing.

Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave. New York: Basic Books, 1983. 151-247. Print.

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Sexualization of men?

This commercial depicts some men suggestively rocking their hips to the theme of ;Jingle Bells’. It’s interesting because it’s one of the few commercials which very obviously attempt to objectify men in order to sell something. Although in this case, it’s boxers, which lowers my criticism of it — it still seems over the top. Especially by attempting to make the men’s genitals the focus of the commercial.

The sexualization of men is not rare, but in comparison to women, it becomes striking. This commercial is noticed by many and said to be too strong of a message and not ‘family friendly’. Interesting when compared to the many advertisements showing women in comparatively revealing poses or actions. It shows how men are seen to be sexualized differently than women and in certain circumstances, only one is acceptable.