Monthly Archives: April 2012

Women in Ads~

Media business and different companies regarding feminism must all have balanced principles that would deal with financial viability via the advertising revenue. Yet advertising relied heavily on the hypothesis that sex sells. During my researches, I’ve noticed that sex appeals in women’s magazines of feminism are often portrayed in a demeaning manner. The third wave of feminist political economy theories to evaluate how sex appeals are created in the discourse and images of advertisements.

In my investigation, it is suggested there are three methods that signified how sex functions in advertising department: one, sex appeals and connected to sexual merchandise with a precept of feminism; two, sex appeals that promote feminist political protest; and lastly sex appeals that sponsor a feminist obligation to different identities, it suggested the idea not only provide different opportunities for profits streams but also opening to reinforce feminist ideology throughout.

Feminist in advertising begun as helping aid and supporting during the war, however when the battle has ended, the supportive of feminist was taken down and replaced with feminist ads of house cleaning product, the image below is one of the ads.

Image

Though throughout in the 1970s, feminist groups came together to draw the public’s awareness regarding the sexual stereotypes with in advertising and to change them through protests, letter-writing campaigns and lawsuits. While feminists were occasionally successful in their protests against particular as, they were not always able to attain their goal of the government bylaw.

Those small victories then encouraged other protests, like the one against National Airlines’ 1971 “Fly me”, a promotion that required stewardesses to wear buttons bearing the slogans “Fly me” and “We make you feel good all over’ giving them all sort of sexual suggestive and unnecessary underline. The National Organization for Women then worked with Stewardesses for Women’s Rights to go against these ads. The groups began to run TV spots showing how badly the ads failed to show a stewardess’ primary function as the enforcer of safety rules. While the protests attained a great deal of media hype, they failed to stop the ads from being used by other airlines.

Feminists worked together to encourage the business to control and maintain sexism in advertising. In 1975, the National Advertising Review Board, an industry self-regulation organization that deals with truth and accuracy in advertising, released a report, “Advertising & Women,” confirming the existence of sexist advertising and criticizing the industry for reinforcing dated stereotypes of men and women. NARB proceeded to offer advertisers guidelines for revising images of women to conform to the realities of a changed society.

Image

A feminism billboard of a woman walking two naked men…

Image

An ad for burger king with sexual suggestive undertone.

Image

Another Ad, but this time is lottery with sexual suggestion of the female anatomy.

What clearly had changed by the mid-1970s was the amount of publicity the production itself paid to images of women in advertising. Companies such as Procter & Gamble Co., which usually only targeted TV spots to women during the day, began buying time on nightly news programs to reach working women. Revisions of women’s symbol during the mid-1970s, it was putting more pressure on the industry to make different changes. Jean Kilbourne’s influential 1976 film “Killing Us Softly” judged the industry’s sexism in particularly devastating and detailed ways that produced widespread industry response.

In the 1980s, the art market may have glorified the return to large scale painting by various young male artists who sometimes engaged in retrograde “backlash” representations of women, “but much of the most important art of the period was made by women critiquing such representations in photography and performance art and using appropriation, to critique the nexus between women and the commodity fetish.” An example of this piece of art is below:

Image

Shifting the Gaze revealed how many feminists had not given up on painting, feminist artists who did see, who do see painting as a space in which they can explore a wide range of social themes from female sexuality, gender transformation to genocide and war, using a wide variety of aesthetic strategies, like from abstraction, pattern and decoration to photography-based representation to language. And the field of women painting along feminist themes or informed by a general feminist politics is much bigger than one show can accommodate, there are so many more artists who could be included, it is a vibrant field.

By the 21st century, feminism’s impact on advertising could be felt most in society’s increased awareness of sexism in advertising, it was an awareness that continually encouraged by many feminist scholars, journalists, advertisers and activists. There are currently many Internet sites dedicated to the representation of women, and a large number of international women’s organizations continue both to monitor women’s representation and to resist increasing global domination by a small number of corporations in which women have very little power.

In advertising in all-purpose, there is a new and different focus on female consumers compared to ads of the 1950s and earlier. “An increasing number of marketing researchers apply feminist perspectives to marketing phenomena, particularly within the field of consumer research.” (Catterall, Maclaran, Stevens, and interestingly enough, “Since the 1970s, a considerable feminist literature has accumulated which simultaneously confronts and confirms our marketing assumptions about women as consumers. There are feminist analyses of women and food, diet, body image, eating out, fashion, romance fictions, glossy magazines, savings and debt, home decorating, design, shopping, sport and leisure.” (Catterall, Maclaran, Stevens)

“The ads themselves… began to portray a consumerist version of liberated women, and new products (or at least products with new names) were devised for them to buy… Cosmetic companies were… quick to exploit feminist rhetoric. Revlon introduced ‘Charlie’ in 1973, a fragrance designed for and marketed to the ‘new woman.’ ‘Charlie ads featured what purported to be a no-nonsense single and independent working ‘girl’ with a fashion model face and figure, usually pictured in a pantsuit.”

Image

This modern ad of a woman, compliment her, suggesting she is sexy and strong.

In my conclusion, feminism have supplied and transformation numbers of advertise over the past decades. The advertising business itself has been somewhat changed by the new presence of women in leadership roles. This new presence allows women’s ideas and opinions to be heard in advertising campaigns, which reasonably results in less stereotypical female images. Both the attitudes of these women and their presence in the industry are largely attributable to feminism. Adding together, the impact of feminism are illustrated in a more noticeable and differences between ads of present-day and several decades ago. Women’s advertising, which used to portray a household, inferior portrayal of women, are now more often shows them as strong, intelligent, sexy, and equality to men – concepts that are directly related to feminism. Moreover, advertising responds to the societal conditions of the time, since they help to shape peoples values, beliefs, and priorities. The feminist movement was a social provision and therefore it shaped people’s values. It is evident in a more gender-equalized society than in decades past. It follows then, that feminism equally influenced, if not transformed advertising.

 

PKim 0807539

Advertisements

Music makes a point!

Music, as far as I’m concerned, has and always will be one of the best forms of self expression. It is a great way of making a stand for something you believe in. Look at the punk movement – one of the best examples because it actually made a difference. It was American bands like the New York Dolls who were one of the first groups to come out with punk music. Malcolm McClaren saw them, liked them, and wanted to bring that kind of DIY attitude to the UK, hence setting up Sex Pistols.The punk movement was one of the biggest and most effective attitude adjustments we’ve ever had as it is still pretty strong nearly forty years later. Clearly music is pretty powerful.
So, I thought why not look at how women are portrayed and talked about within the music industry. But rather than look at just the artists and the latest tabloid headlines about Rihanna or Lady Gaga, I’d rather look at what the music itself is saying.
I want to look at two songs, one from the present and one from maybe thirty years or so in the past. I’ll be mostly discussing the lyrics but also looking a little bit into the performers too. I am interested to see the differences and possible similarities between the two songs and the artists to whom they belong.

“Feminism is a belief that women and men are inherently of equal worth” (Freedman, 2003, page 7) and the first song that I have chosen is one of the most obviously feminist songs I have heard.
My first choice is ‘Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves’ which was written by Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart and sung by Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin. Although “in 1980 the New York Times assured readers that the “radical days of feminism are gone”. (Freedman, 2003, page 10), this single was released in October 1985 by RCA Records. (Discography, http://www.annielennox.com)

Okay, so a little bit about Annie Lennox herself.

She is an incredibly strong female character who has presented herself as a very independant and capable woman. She is a very inspirational person as she has had an active role in the campaign to raise awareness for HIV and poverty in Africa as well as being an ambassador for Oxfam and UNAids.
In many of her music videos she is seen wearing masculine cut suits with short boyish hair and so looks fairly androgynous. The idea behind this was to make herself look similar to and ‘equal’ to Dave Stewart (her partner in Eurythmics). Laura Mulvey continuously presents the idea that a woman is just a castrated men, giving the idea that we are all men (and therefore all the same/of equal worth) but some have a penis and some do not.
Lennox doesn’t just want to be known for her music as she tells an interviewer from The Guardian “I want people to understand me as a person with views, not just performing songs,”. (Lennox, 2012)
Now to look at the music.

Now there was a time when they used to say
That behind every – great man
There had to be a – great woman
But in these times of change you know
That it’s no longer true
So we’re comin’ out of the kitchen
‘Cause there’s somethin’ we forgot to say to you (we say)

Sisters are doin’ it for themselves
Standin’ on their own two feet
And ringin’ on their own bells
Sisters are doin’ it for themselves

Now this is a song to celebrate
The conscious liberation of the female state
Mothers – daughters and their daughters too
Woman to woman
We’re singin’ with you
The “inferior sex” got a new exterior
We got doctors, lawyers, politicians too
Everybody – take a look around
Can you see – can you see – can you see
There’s a woman right next to you

Sisters are doin’ it for themselves
Standin’ on their own two feet
And ringin’ on their own bells
Sisters are doin’ it for themselves

Now we ain’t makin’ stories
And we ain’t layin’ plans
‘Cause a man still loves a woman
And a woman still loves a man
(Just a same though)
The main point of the song is to establish that women are no longer relying on men as they are capable of doing it all themselves.
To be honest, my main problem with these lyrics is in the last verse.
“Cause a man still loves a woman, And a woman still loves a man” just sounds like they’re saying ‘don’t worry, we’re all straight!’ which kind of annoys me because although I am aware that a lot of fairly ignorant (and often obnoxious) people will think that most feminists are man-hating lesbians, it seems to me that it is saying that women should be treated equally but maybe not homosexuals yet.

The A.V. Club criticized Lennox for these lyrics, saying “it traffics in cliches about women as much as it disproves them”. (Heller, et al, 2010) They also picked up on the same lines that I have mentioned, as well as “Women are ”comin’ out of the kitchen” to tout their ”new exterior” as if feminism was a shiny paint job.” (Heller, et al, 2010)

 

The second song I want to look at is ‘If I Were A Boy’ by Beyonce.

If I were a boy even just for a day
I’d roll out of bed in the morning
And throw on what I wanted
And go drink beer with the guys

And chase after girls
I’d kick it with who I wanted
And I’d never get confronted for it
‘Cause they stick up for me

If I were a boy
I think I could understand
How it feels to love a girl
I swear I’d be a better man

I’d listen to her
‘Cause I know how it hurts
When you lose the one you wanted
‘Cause he’s taking you for granted
And everything you had got destroyed

If I were a boy
I would turn off my phone
Tell everyone it’s broken
So they’d think that I was sleeping alone

I’d put myself first
And make the rules as I go
‘Cause I know that she’d be faithful
Waiting for me to come home, to come home

If I were a boy
I think I could understand
How it feels to love a girl
I swear I’d be a better man

I’d listen to her
‘Cause I know how it hurts
When you lose the one you wanted
‘Cause he’s taking you for granted
And everything you had got destroyed

It’s a little too late for you to come back
Say it’s just a mistake
Think I’d forgive you like that
If you thought I would wait for you
You thought wrong

But you’re just a boy
You don’t understand
And you don’t understand, oh
How it feels to love a girl
Someday you wish you were a better man

You don’t listen to her
You don’t care how it hurts
Until you lose the one you wanted
‘Cause you’re taking her for granted
And everything you had got destroyed
But you’re just a boy

 

She mostly talks about how guys have it so much easier than girls, because they don’t care as much and therefore don’t get hurt as much as girls do. She also implies that guys can pretty much do what they want without getting too much hassle for it; “I’d kick it with who I wanted,
And I’d never get confronted for it”.
To me this is implying that women are also weaker than men as they are relying on a man to keep them happy, even though this guy is out doing whatever he likes and the girl is just waiting around for him. The lines “‘Cause I know that she’d be faithful, Waiting for me to come home” reinforce the idea of the naive, weak woman sitting around awaiting the man to come home.

The words “but you’re just a boy” are repeated a few times within the song, which could be saying two different things. The first could be comparing a boy to a girl, making the male sound inferior because the male is ‘just’ a boy. The second could be comparing a boy to a man, making it an excuse for his poor behaviour – he is only a boy, he hasn’t grown up to be a man yet. This presumes that when the boy becomes a man his behaviour will improve.

It is mostly the third verse from the bottom where the female actually sounds strong.

“It’s a little too late for you to come back
Say it’s just a mistake
Think I’d forgive you like that
If you thought I would wait for you
You thought wrong”

She finally says that the girl wont just wait around and let the guy do what he likes.
She finally gives herself some value!
Beyonce is another powerful, often thought to be inspirational, woman. She is a successful singer, songwriter and dancer as well as a devoted daughter, wife and now mother.
Some seem to think that you cannot preach feminist views and make sexy, provocative music videos. Beyonce clearly disagrees. The reason, I think, she can get away with doing this is because she is embracing her sexuality, using it to become empowered rather than degrading herself by sleeping around or being ‘slutty’. Laura Mulvey talks about the “male gaze” (Mulvey, 1975) and how women are looked at as objects of desire. Beyonce takes this idea and uses it to her advantage. Men will stare or ‘gaze’ at her, and so she can show them how strong she is while she has their attention.

 

References

Freedman, E. 2003, No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women, Ballentine Books.

Heller, J., Koski G., Pierce, L., Robinson, T., Ryan, K., Withrow, E., Zulkey, C. 2010.
A soundproofed room of one’s own: 17 well-intended yet misguided feminist anthems. Available at: avclub.com/articles/a-soundproofed-room-of-ones-own-17-wellintended-ye,39169/

Martinson, J. 2012. Annie Lennox: The world has bcome more sexualised. Available at:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/mar/05/annie-lennox-world-more-sexualised

Mulvey, L. 1975, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. [online] Available at: http://imlportfolio.usc.edu/ctcs505/mulveyVisualPleasureNarrativeCinema.pdf

Schneir, M. 1994 Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings. Vintage, London.

http://www.annielennox.com

http://www.cduniverse.com

Lads’ magazines: What is “lad”

For this part of the blog, I will be explaining how women are portrayed in men’s’ magazines, particularly lads magazines.

Lads’ magazine are a subcategory of men’s’ magazines generally aimed towards straight men. The term “lad” was coined from British culture during the 90’s. It is generally used to refer to young men and boys in general.

” LAD’ lad, n a boy; a youth; a male companion, workmate, etc; a stableman or woman, a dashing, high-spirited or extrovert man(colloq)”

(The Chambers’ Dictionary, 2001, pg. 899)

To define this subculture of people, one could observe the behaviour of some of the male youth culture around us. But to examine this topic further, we should use the term “lad culture”

Lad culture is considered a lifestyle but it’s not a lifestyle that one would willingly pursue. This lifestyle can be considered a luxury as it’s a way of “living to the fullest”. This is quite similar to the “yuppie” culture as they both involve living in a style that ignores the negative backlash presented in these cultures. It’s also a culture which can only be experience by the young and young at heart.

Lad culture can be just described as just sexual banter, footy talk, drunken antics and poor diets. Yuppie culture is roughly spending money on items that would be expensive for most people but buying it for the purpose of looking good in front of others or for indulging.

There have been tv shows that portray or parody this culture. Such as the sitcom “Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps” which first aired at 2001 and ran for 9 seasons. Another sitcom which can be compared to this was “Men Behaving Badly” which ran from 1992 to 1998.

Lad culture has also been shown to lead to hooliganism which then leds to vandalism and bullying sometimes due to drunk behaviour. This quote relates to this point;

“Laddism[ lad culture] was a celebration of the irresponsible, of unreconstructed young men running wild…” (Beynon, J. (2002) Masculinities and Culture, Buckingham, Open University Press)

Although, this could just mean that times have changed and this could be very well be a new part which gives way to more subcultures like the similar “ladettes” lifestyle.

Matthew Odei-Hanson (0737252)