Tag Archives: Simone de Beauvoir

What is Oppression in Media Representation?

In her book, “The Second Sex,” Simone de Beauvoir states, “All oppression creates a state of war” (Source here). For the sake of this post, I’m considering oppression in the form of reductive or absent media portrayals, although oppression as a concept can be seen differently in a myriad of institutions today. Regarding representation, bell hooks underlines the absence of black women in television and cinema in “The Oppositional Gaze,” stating that “black female spectators have had to develop looking relations within a cinematic context that constructs our presence as absence” (bell hooks 118). Similarly, Patricia Hill Collins examines objectifying portrayals of black men that reduce them to their body or genitalia in “Booty Call: Sex, Violence, and Images of Black Masculinity” (Hill Collins 152-162). These media representations, or absence of representations, further oppress minorities by limiting viewers’ perceptions of them. If constantly present in the media, these objectifying images work to dehumanize the identities of the portrayed “oppressed group,” both in the eyes of the majority group and the minority groups. I can imagine these forms of oppression enhancing inner conflicts among individuals who feel as though their personal identity does not coincide with inaccurate media imagery. Therefore, in addition to the obvious conflict created between oppressor and the oppressed, I think oppression can create a sort of internal war among individuals that are labeled as oppressed.

Sources:
Patricia Hill Collins. “Booty Call: Sex, Violence, and Images of Black Masculinity.” 2004.
bell hooks. “The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators.” 1992.

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Ad Critique Post – DiGiorno Pizza Commercial

The DiGiorno commercial ties very well with the main ideas discussed in Beauvior’s text titled The Second Sex: Introduction and Lorber’s text titled The Social Construction of Gender. In this commercial both genders are stereotyped into traditional gender roles as the men are seen relaxing outside while viewing sports and the woman is seen heading into her home with two large grocery bags. The men decide to order a pizza – but the main male character decides to call his spouse instead to demand her to make him a pizza the way he likes it. She replies, “you know I hate when you do this” as if this is an everyday occurrence between the two of them. He then demands her to make the pizza quickly.  This commercial resembles how Beauvior discusses gender: “man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him” (Beauvior 33). Her existence is dependent on serving men instead of being independent to do the task she enjoys. Lober’s belief that gender “creates the social difference that define woman and man” because people “learn what is expected…thus simultaneously construct and maintain the gender order” (Lorber 115). This construction is seen as the woman is expected to make the pizza for the men as she always does. After making the pizza the woman retaliates by turning the sprinkler on the three men. The men have no reaction and continue to watch sports, as if they are oblivious to her existence. Their actions demonstrate that men are seen as the supreme and the woman is only significant in service to men. Therefore, the woman is only defined according to the men’s terms.

Judith Lorber, “The Social Construction of Gender”, 1990.

De Beauvoir, Simone. “The Second Sex: Introduction.”, 2003.

Can We Freely Choose Our Gender?

When talking about the difference between sex and gender, Judith Butler explains how, “When the constructed status of gender is theorized as radically independent of sex, gender itself becomes a free-floating artifice, with the consequence that man and masculine might just as easily signify a female body as a male one, and woman and feminine a male body as easily as a female one” (Butler 10). In summary, Butler describes gender as being free of structure and bodies (unlike sex) and Delphy describes gender as being a social construct that precedes sex.

If being viewed as an “Other” is an integral part of being a woman, as Simone de Beauvoir suggests, then the flipside of that notion is that being viewed as a man means being viewed as normal, the default gender and comes with a wealth of privileges due to being male. If someone is perceived to be female, then that person will face sexism even in subtle everyday forms. So, based on the treatment of different genders: Does the way perceived gender and cisnormativity (cisgender normativity) play out in sexism affect how society will or will not accept or respect a person’s chosen gender if it differs from their perceived gender?

My main question in regards to all of these notions mentioned above would be: Can we as individuals freely choose our own gender and have our gender be based on our own self-perceptions, or is our gender more dependent on how others treat, recognize and perceive our gender?

Bibliography:
Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1999.

Delphy, Christine. Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. McCann and Kim, New York: Routledge, 2003.

Beauvoir, Simone de. Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives “The second sex.” McCann and Kim New York: Routledge, 2003. Print.

Are You Ready For Some– Objectification?

As my friends and I were watching TV, a commercial for a fantasy football website called Draft Kings came on. The tour guide of the Draft Kings Hall of Fame promises that signing up for the site can help a man transform from being “a guy with holes in his underpants to a guy with bikini models in them”. Of course, this notion makes total sense since women love nothing more than a man who can earn money via spending who-knows-how-many-hours creating a fantasy football team… And of course all women are exclusively attracted to men (and vice versa), so the entire heteronormative sub-premise of the commercial makes total sense: If you want to sleep with women, you need to become a Draft King.

What was really troubling for me was how subtle and light-hearted the objectification of women was in this context. Since women are considered the “Other” as Simone de Beauvoir suggests, it makes sense that the “Other” would be an object that is solely there for heterosexual men to serve a sexual purpose or as a sexual prize for men. So forget the Super Bowl Trophy, get laid by some real trophies– women!

Bibliography:
Beauvoir, Simone de. Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives “The second sex.” McCann and Kim New York: Routledge, 2003. Print.

Reasons to Get Spotify Premium!

There is a Spotify ad geared toward straight men who want to learn the super secret, magical way to “talk” to women so that they’ll be attracted to them. Here’s a quote from www.attractionformula.com. “Knowing how to flirt with women and knowing how to create chemistry is a crucial skill for a man to develop.” And I suppose learning how treat women like people rather than Pokemon in the wild just waiting to be caught isn’t.

Drawing from Simone de Beauvoir’s notion that the male gender is viewed as the norm and everything else as the other, it makes sense how an ad like this even exists. Since heterosexual men are viewed as the norm, their desires are those that get promoted in our media. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if this ad doesn’t apply to plenty of users (including the very women who are the designated targets of affection), as long as these men get their prize in the end, that’s all that matters.

Basically, this ad says that women are objects who can be easily attained since they are all the same and don’t have feelings of their own. By charming them with generic, cookie cutter words, men will definitely be able to get them into their beds in no time. And they can get all these tips for a small fee of $19.95!

*Note: I have Premium now so I don’t have to listen to problematic ads like this anymore.

Source:
de Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex: Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2003.

Tide Commercial Is Not Clean of Stereotypes

This ad opens with men acting macho while watching football. A woman, presumably one man’s wife, fulfills the stereotype of the housewife by folding towels. Salsa drips onto one of the men’s shirts, and stains it in the shape of Joe Montana, the football star.

When the men call it a “miracle stain,” the woman shakes her head. The stain becomes famous, and people (majority men), idolize it. These men are portrayed as buffoons compared to the disbelieving wife, the female reporter who comments on how “crazy” they are, and women who make a profit by selling t-shirts.

After the huge amount of attention given to the man and his stain, he returns home to find that his wife washed the shirt. As he pouts and leaves, the woman whispers “Go Ravens,” indicating that she wanted to sabotage the 49ers by ruining their good luck charm.

Additionally, the ad goes against Simone de Beauvoir’s observation that women are the “other” gender. This women could stand alone, and is portrayed as smarter than the men. However, the ad also alludes to the stereotype that women deal with their issues by sneaking around and scheming to get what they want.

Beauvoir, Simone De. “The Second Sex: Introduction.” Introduction. The Second Sex. New York: Knopf, 1953. 32-40. Print.

Ad Critique: Modern Muse, old ideas

Image

Cosmopolitan Magazine (better known as simply Cosmo) reinforces gender in its largely female audience. The magazine is full of ads and content that encourage women to behave in a highly sexualized feminine manner. Most of the magazine does this in a risqué manner, but the sexism in Estee Lauder’s new perfume advertisement is more implicit. While the brand describes the Muse women as “the heroine of her own life” and an “independent spirit,” this directly contradicts to the concept of a muse. A muse is never the central character of any story, but instead someone whose only significance is its service to another, superior being. This construction of a muse starkingly resembles how Simone de Beauvior describes women in The Second Sex: “man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him.” This advertisement presumes this dependence on men, and encourages women to be a muse instead of an independent creator, to “be an inspiration” as if they are incapable of being inspired themselves. Furthermore, with its surreal and almost angelic photograph of the woman, the advertisement continues what de Beauvior calls the “myth” of women. Instead of imbuing women with strong and tangible characteristics that men possess, this advertisement perpetuates that ethereal, “other” perception of women.

1. Beauvoir, Simone De. “The Second Sex: Introduction.” Introduction. The Second Sex. New York: Knopf, 1953. 32-40. Print.