In this advertisement, a gay couple is featured and they are presumably getting married. While Target took a positive step and many companies do not market non-hetero normative love, this advertisement is still problematic. It markets same sex love as alien and rare. The copy reads ‘be yourself together, build a Target Wedding Gift Registry as unique as the two of you’. This word choice ‘unique’ and the gay couple featured works dialectically, and correspondingly suggests that there is something particularly ‘unique’ about the gay couple. In reality, all couples are likely unique. The copy would likely read differently if a heterosexual engaged white couple were featured. This process of deeming something unique can be positive but it can also be‘othering’ and perpetuate marginalization. There must be balance between glorifying diversity and difference while maintaining respect and inclusion of different groups.
I wanted to write this post about an advertisement I really like for a product I use and enjoy, and examine the gender implications I may have overlooked. I often wonder how my outlook has been influenced in the past, and if it is changeable (or if it even should be altered).
Through this thought process, I came to this advertisement for Target from this holiday season.
The ad definitely takes some positive steps: some racial diversity, son baking with mother, and sections with non-distinct gender lines.
However, there were some other obvious gender normative scenes as well but I think that any progress is good, and only our efforts over time will allow for greater changes.
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/>.
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.