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Dilia Morales Monroy
Professor Ditch
English 114A
9 December 2014
Sexist Ads Can Result In Negative Effects
Sexism in advertisements seems like a pretty effective technique to use when it comes to
selling men’s products. Dacron is a brand known for selling polyester textile fiber that is
wrinkle- resistant and very strong. This particular advertisement published in the 1970’s
publicizes dressing pants. This image shows a young female lying on the floor. She is looking
straight into the camera with an apathetic face expression. Although, she is on the floor her hair
is straightened and her make up is done. On top of her head, is a man’s foot. He is stepping on
her while wearing well-polished dressing shoes. He looks like an important man. He is wearing
black dressing pants, a white dressing shirt, and a black tie. Only the lower part of his body is
shown. One of his hands is placed on his hip with a closed fist, and the other hand is placed on
his thigh. This position makes him look dominant and shows that he is in control and above the
woman. From what society has constructed, that dominant image has to be within a man in order
for them to be masculine and up to society’s expectations and norms. Using sexism to sell
products can have a negative impact on both males and females by making men hyper masculine
and feel in control where as women are placed in a position where they are classified as inferior
to men.
The advertisement of Dacron includes a quote that reads “it’s nice to have a girl around
the house.” To a certain extend, this quote implies that women are good at what they are
supposed to do, which is to get the job done that a housewife has to get done so its good to have

 
 

 

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someone around the house to do all the tasks a women is supposed to complete. In other words,
if a woman were not to get the job done, a man wouldn’t do it because then that wouldn’t be
considered masculine and those actions would be “labeled as inappropriate gender role behaviors
(Devor 39).” Men and women have the tendency of following gender norms and the expectations
for their sex because to society that is how it should be. In her article “Night To His day: The
Social Construction Of Gender”, Judith Lorber gives an example of a well-dressed man with a
baby on a stroller. This action was uncommon because it was a male performing it so the
passengers stared at him and applauded silently. This shows how even when performing the
same tasks men are still put above women because if a woman was the one with her baby, the
action would go unnoticed because that is something ordinary that goes on. Not matter what the
circumstances are in most cases a man will be the one in control. For example, being a housewife
means taking care of things around the house. Women are expected to work around the house but
they are not necessarily in control of it. They still have to consult someone if they want to take a
certain action or decision and in this case that would be the head of the house, which in many
cases it tends to be the man. Just in general, gender is being performed as a daily routine
depending on how a person acts depending on their sex.
Men and Women are expected to have suitable characteristic that fit on the basis of their
gender. A woman is supposed to be feminine and act according to feminine gender norms. Some
of these characteristics include, speaking in a polite way, dressing in a stylish way and showing
more of the bare skin, siting a certain way (this usually mean crossing her legs), cleaning,
cooking, taking care of kids, and playing the housewives role. Lastly women are said to be
subordinate, and this is a problem for both males and females because this characteristic of a
woman puts men in a position where they feel the need to be in control and more powerful than a

 
 

 

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woman. Society has constructed a world were men are expected to be masculine and with that
comes a huge amount of manly characteristics and gender roles a man has to follow to be
considered manly and a “real man”. They are to exhibit “ a manly air of toughness, confidence,
and self-reliance, and the aura of aggression, violence, and daring (Devor 42).” Since all men are
supposed to be that way and act according to their sex, they have to go to the opposite sex that is
said to be delicate and have control over them so they can feel that masculine trait they are
supposed to have within them. There are consequences that come to those men who are not super
masculine. They are called insulting names, treated in different ways, looked down at, and
sometimes they are even discriminating. Men are supposed to keep up with this image but in the
process of doing so they are harming the opposite sex.
Being feminine is usually a characteristic that is linked with being a woman, and being a
woman is sometimes seen as a disadvantage in society because although progress has been made
since the 1970’s which was when this particular advertisement took place and where some
feminist movements where going on. Progression throughout the years has been shown by
women being able to vote, work with the government, and expand their education, However, it
has not reach its full extend. In one way or another women do not have the same equal rights as
men and there are several gender stereotypes that exist that contribute to this inequality. One
simple example is in the work field, where even though both males and females are performing
the same job, they are names that are used to differentiate them like nurse and male nurse.
Women also make less income than men and their positions are lower than a man. In her article
“Women” Ann Magee states “The past century has brought significant gains for women.
However, gender issues are still significant. They affect levels of attainment (i.e. occupation and
income), retirement provision, home ownership, and family responsibilities. Despite the visibility

 
 

 

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of women in powerful positions in New Zealand, most women live in a society where there are
constant reminders of the dominance of male decision-makers and male values and of the fact
that women generally have less control of resources and their lives. (Magee)” The idea that
women have less control over their lives and of resources can be exposed in several ways. One of
them is in the use of advertisements.
The outcome of sexism in advertisements can lead to negative factors even if that is not
what they intend to do. Perhaps there is a possibility that some people may argue that sexism
does not always lead to these issues where women are set inferior to men because an image of a
woman is simply use as an object for the benefit of companies to promote their product and catch
the audience attention, specially if its intended for men. However, in the article “Controlling Sex
and Decency in Advertising Around the World” by Jean J Boddewyn, he states that “ sexism
concerns distinctions which diminish or demean one sex in comparison with the otherparticularly through the use of sex-role stereotypes. (Boddewyn)” That is exactly what this
advertisement is showing, there is a lot more to it than just advertising a brand. It comes with a
message that has been exposed to society over the years by showing that men are above women,
this is therefore being adapted an as notion of femininity and masculinity. The fact that women’s
bodies are being used as objects to promote products is also problematic. In the article “Italy's
sexist ads 'incite violence'” John Follain argues that “We’ve got to stop turning women’s bodies
into objects, because the message is that with an object you can do anything you want. (Follain)”
By seeing and using a woman’s body as an object, their image and power is being pushed down
and their sex and gender loses value over all because if it is seen in that perspective, an object is
something that is not important to some people.
Sexism sells, but it can also lead to domestic violence and other critical issues that many

 
 

 

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may not be aware of. Although there is not much prove of many situations that have actually
been linked with sexist articles and violence. The article “ ads can cause violence against
women” by Stephen Naysmith mentions, “Dr Kilbourne argues that dehumanizing images of
women in advertising contribute to a climate in which rape, domestic violence and other assaults
on women and girls are more likely. (Naysmith)” This is not a surprise because the message that
is being transmitted through an image can have an affect on a persons actions and the way that
person views that certain perspective, especially on a man’s point of view because they feel the
need to be in power. The need to be men and act like “real men” do. This can lead to hyper
masculinity by extending their behavior to a point where they are capable of hurting another
person of their own sex and opposite sex as well in order to fit in with society’s norms because
they might believe it is okay and something normal. But for the most part it is women the ones
that are being affected by this issue.
There are many negative issues that come out of an advertisement that objectifies women
to promote a product. It not only classifies women as inferior to men by making them
subordinate and less powerful but it also makes men feel like they are in control and they have
much more power and rights over females. Although this specific advertisement took place in the
1970’s where the images were used to attract audience, ads like this still exist but they are not as
offensive and sexist as the ones from before because progress has been made and something like
this would not be as accepting now that women do have a say and more rights and flexibility to
do things, but regardless man are still seen as the higher authority.

 
 

 

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Works Cited Page
Boddewyn, Jean J. "Controlling Sex and Decency in Advertising Around the World." Journal of
Advertising, 20.4 (1991): 25-35.
Devor, Aaron. "Becoming Members Of Society: The Social Meanings Of Gender." Composing
Gender (2014): 294. Print.
Follain, John. "Italy's Sexist Ads 'Incite Violence' Eire Region]." Sunday Times: 18. May 12
2013. ProQuest. Web. 3 Nov. 2014.
Lorber, Judith. ""Night To His Day": The Social Construction Of Gender." Composing Gender
(2014): 294. Print.
Magee, Ann. "Women." Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 42.1 (2001): 35-45.
Naysmith, Stephen. "Author: Ads can Cause Violence Against Women." The Herald: 22. Aug 23
2013. ProQuest. Web. 3 Nov. 2014.