Gender Stereotyping in Advertising Media – Critical Analysis Paper

Abstract

Gender stereotypes can be described as exaggerated beliefs about male and female sexes on the basis of their appearance, roles and behavior. Even though there are some improvements in the modern world, it becomes difficult to do away with these gender stereotypes from the society. Advertising media has the ability to either make or break an image of male and female, and to create gender differences that may influence the opinions of the viewers. In an attempt to explain whether or not gender stereotyping in advertising media is of significance, two arguments were developed. Advertisers use commercials that are inclined to various gender roles in order to attract customers and to increase profits. On the other hand, it can be argued that women should be eliminated from advertisements to help maintain the society’s belief of male-dominance.

 

Critical Analysis Paper

Introduction

Gender differences have become part of the normal lives of members of the society, and they have been used to separate roles for men and women. Traditionally, men were forbidden from doing certain things and similarly, women could not undertake some activities that were reserved for men. This has resulted into the concept of gender stereotyping that is seen in the society today. The commercial setting now uses gender differences in advertisements, which has made the roles of women and women even to be more pronounced (Ferguson, Kreshel and Tinkham, 1990). Women are increasingly taking up the roles of men in the society such as doctors, lawyers, managers and many others. This is a gradual shift towards gender equality that is seen as the society’s expectation. A shift towards greater gender equality, through the help of advertisements, might change the manner in which masculinity and femininity are portrayed in the society. However, this expectation of males and females has caused varied views about gender representation in advertising media (Artz, Munger and Purdy, 1999).

Argument 1

Advertisers greatly benefit from gender stereotyping in their advertisements as this helps them to increase sales of their products. Customers in the contemporary society are used to advertisement images that show some distinction between gender roles as well as products that each sex uses most in his or her daily life (Bellizzi and Milner, 1991). For instance, an advertisement that uses a woman to inform viewers about new cooking oil in the market depicts that women are associated with cooking roles. In addition, that which uses a man to advertise a new car shows that men are associated with driving roles. These stereotyping images make men to display themselves as physically powerful identities while women are prevented from breaking away from the cultural beliefs of femininity (Ferguson, Kreshel and Tinkham, 1990). Advertisers take advantage of these stereotypical images and roles as they do not want to challenge the society’s beliefs. In addition, it will be a very difficult task to attempt to change people’s mindsets because the viewers will have fixed minds about the roles and images that are portrayed in advertisements.

Advertisers always want to stick to the stereotypes that members of the society are used to, so that they can easily appeal their potential customers. They will try their best to manipulate people’s views and develop gender-based images and roles that effectively connect their products with the target audience. It is only when this gender biasness is maintained in advertisements that the advertisers will be able to communicate easily with their customers. According to Ferguson, Kreshel and Tinkham (1990), advertisers also use gender stereotyping in their advertisements to allow their consumers to connect what they view with what happens in reality. Again, they aim at adopting the postulations of cultivation theory by using repeated images well understood by the viewers in order to gain popularity. This allows commercial organizations to focus more on budgets that are mostly watched by viewers of particular gender, to enable them market their products effectively with the aim of maximizing profits. Since advertisers are profit-driven, they will continue to stereotype gender roles and images in advertisements to allow them convey their products easily to the viewers (Bellizzi and Milner, 1991).

Argument 2

According to Artz, Munger and Purdy, (1999), it is very important that gender stereotyping, that favor the male gender, be used by advertising media in order to help save male status in the contemporary society. There has been an increasing prevalence of women assuming highly ranked positions, such as managerial positions, which were once believed to be men’s roles. This is an indication that women are soon gaining greater recognition in the society as compared to men as far as employment opportunities are concerned. In addition, women in the modern society have become big owners of electronic products, homes and automobiles, which happen to raise their status at a very rapid rate. The fight towards the achievement of gender equality is one major contributor of this trend. The gap between men and women is getting closer and closer which might result into men losing their traditionally presumed status. Therefore, there is need to use gender differences in advertising media in order to maintain the dominant status of men in the society.

Including women in varied types of advertisements might change the society by creating some uncertainty about the nature of masculinity. Appearance of women in men-based commercial activities greatly challenges the masculine fantasy by giving them a different image before the viewers. These women are portrayed to be bold, dressed in bright clothing, slim and physically attractive to their male counterparts. This attraction has to be maintained in order for the women to attract the viewers too. Advertisements that use women always have a sole focus on beauty and how a woman’s physical attractiveness can be used to reinforce patriarchy. On the other hand, advertisements that use men are only geared towards reinforcement of masculinity which enables them to cope with life in a society that is gives women high levels of recognition. These advertisements encourage men to develop their bodies to be even stronger and bigger than women (Artz, Munger and Purdy, 1999). Exempting women from commercial advertisements will help keep the society’s notion out the nature of masculinity. Eventually, men will be able to retain their power in the society over women.

Conclusion

The nature of effort made by the advertisers to show counter stereotyping in their advertisements helps to increase the sense of awareness towards the viewers. Showing such images and roles frequently to the viewers becomes even more helpful to various businesses as it helps build a culture of belief. Since women are seen to bear most roles in the house, they form a better target market for most of the products advertised. Advertisers may therefore want to use women in advertisements more than men (counter-stereotyping) in order to increase sales of their products and to increase profits. In addition, they strive to keep the viewers beliefs about the gender roles thereby attracting consumer’s attention. On the other hand, advertisers try to eliminate women from their advertisements with the aim of protecting the status of men in the society. Consequently, stereotypical images used in advertisements provide some representation of the real world due to the difficulty of attainment of gender equality due to the society.

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