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Advertizing and

Intersections of Gender, Popular
Culture, and Advertising
 Intersectionality
 Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989): how various biological,
social and cultural categories such as gender, race,
class, ability, sexual orientation, and other axes of
identity interact on multiple and often simultaneous
levels, contributing to systematic injustice and social
 Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc., do
not act independently of one another; instead, these
forms of oppression interrelate, creating a system of
oppression that reflects the "intersection" of multiple
forms of discrimination.

 It’s Pat: Physical Evaluation – SNL

 Recognition of so as either male or female is
fundamentally vital for our ability to interact
with them.
 Categories that make sense
 Proper signals – clear categorization - social
 Sending and reading them
Image based culture
 Transition from print culture to image based culture ca. 1990s
 Digital natives
 Visual culture: the predominance of visual forms of media, communication, and information in the
postmodern world
 a world of cross-mediation--culturally meaningful visual content in multiple forms, and visual content and
codes migrate between forms:
 print images and graphic design
 TV and cable TV
 film and video in all interfaces and playback/display technologies
 computer interfaces and software design
 Internet/Web as a visual platform
 digital multimedia
 advertising in all media (a true cross-media institution)
 fine art and photography
 fashion
 architecture, design, and urban design

 Code switching
 Visual literacy
 Visual culture is used to encode identities in several institutions--personal, national, ethnic, sexual,
subcultures, etc.
 A new form of conduct literature
Gender in Visual Culture
 Erving Goffman: Gendered advertisments (1978)

 The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1965)

 Performance and self
 Gender and advertisments
 "Literature operates transformatively on ideology,
producing ‘knowledge’ of it, whereas popular ficiton
merely reproduces and transmits that ideology”
(Jean Radford qtd. In Smith, p. 15)
Performing Gender
 Nothing general about
gender identity Male Female
 Appropriate attributes taken
on as a learning process
 Sex/gender Strong dependant
 Mutually exclusionary
 Sets of attributes assigned Intelligent emotional
to them
 Learning to inhabit the
category competitive empathetic

 Third gender
 India: hijra
 Balkan: sworn virgin
 Transsexual, transgendered identities
Two-sex, two-gender system
 Tendency to downplay
similarities between the two
 Tendency to downplay
variability within each

 One dominant
(normative) way to be a
man or a woman
Gender display
 Goffmann: How are the two codes of normality created and
maintained, held in place?
 Gender display: the process whereby we perform roles expected
of us by social convention
 Gender: an active process of learning to perform it, learning a
script, internalizing short-hand codes
 Code:
 1. short-hand language
 2. a set of rules, a code of behavior
 To learn the socially recognizable signals in gender terms
Gender codes
 The Birdcage (1996)
 The human body as a means of communication
 Codes appear as natural, difficult to notice in
 The best place to see them at work: popular media
 Commercial realism – the world as could be real
 Context – audience resistant – quick and efficient –
deep – at a glance
 Codes of gender display
 What the seeming normality of ads tell us
 Ads look normal
 What the culture holds up as normal
 Visual anthropology
 Their strangeness and
weirdness become
apparent only upon
close scrutiny
 Analytical distance
 Hands – representation
– gender
 Control
 Environment
The feminine touch

 caress

 braze

 touch
The masculine touch

 Assertive, strong, utilitarian

 Male hands manipulate their environment
 Commanding
 powerful
Female self touching

 Face
 Shoulder
 Neck
 Hair
Postures of Submissiveness

 Head cant (leaning to the side, bent, angled,

 Body bent away from the vertical
 Coy over-the-shoulder look
 Contorted poses
 Head lifted upward (surrender, defenseless
Breathless posture
passivity, acquiesence
Psychological subordination

 Licensed withdrawal
 Not paying attention
 Drifting from the scene (women drift, men
stay anchored)
 Psychological removal
 Zoned out
 Averted eyes, looking downward
 Biting the lip
Activity vs. passivity
The ritualization of
 Feminine subordinate to masculine
 Lying down recumbent position (benigness of
posture) (submission in the animal world)
 Powerlessness
 Conventionalized as sexual availability
 Sexualization of femininity
 Calvin Klein Euphoria
The ritualization of
Body parts
The bashful kneebend

 (off center, ungrounded, lack of firmness,

presupooses goodwill in the environment)
 Has been sexualized
 Crossleg position
Sexualization of off-center postures
Male gaze (Laura Mulvey,
Barbara Creed)
 Why appealing?
 Male gaze: a gendered
fantasy of coherence
 Knowledge
 Power

 Pleasure

Grounded on:
 an ‘active/passive

heterosexual division of
Masculine head posture
 If not removed –
 Men hold emotions,
women do not control

 Boys rite of passage (problematic effort)

 Women never leave girlhood behind (girls
 Fruit of the loom male underwear
 Hanes female underwear
Infantilization and
 Calvin Klein female underwear
 Fingers in the mouth
 Combined with coy look
 Peeking /hiding
 Snuggling into men/women leaning into men
from behind (fixing dependence)
Hiding, holding their clothes,
biting lips
Sexualization of girl children
Codes of masculinity

 Power
 Prepared
 Mature
 Strength
 Emotional control
 Independent
 Upright
 Confidence, poise, self-
 Comfort, relaxed calm
 Arms folded looking out at the
 Active
 Masculine code broken
in extreme

 crisis
Significant change: opening up
of codes
 Male as object of gaze
(men’s apparel)
 Beckham underwear
for H&M
 Guarantee of
(introducing women,
muscular male bodies –
Code-breaking in femininity?
 Female action hero
 Lara Croft, the Black
Widow (3’00”), Kill Bill,
Charlie’s Angels
 Sportswomen
The uniform of women taking
Kristina Lum
Malia Jones
Amanda Beard

 Ritualized displays of femininity

 Joan Riviere "Femininity as Masquerade”
 Ideology
How the dominant institutions in society work
through values, conceptions of the world, and
symbol systems, in order to legitimize the current
order. This legitimization is managed through the
widespread teaching (the social adoption) of ideas
about the way things are, how the world 'really'
works and should work.
Raunch culture
 Ariel Levy: Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the
Rise of Raunch Culture (2006).
 “over-sexualised culture… which not only objectifies
women but also encourages women to objectify
themselves in the (false) belief that this is a form of
female empowerment.” (2006, pg4)
 Encouragement to girls and women to strive to be
the 'hottest' or 'sexiest' rather than the most
intelligent or accomplished
 Branding Playboy
 Tv shows define characters
by their sexual and
consumption habits
 Women and girls are
encouraged to ‘adopt a
sexualised stance as an
expression of positive
female autonomy, whereby
the possession of a ‘sexy
body’ is presented as
women’s key source of
 (Gill,2003 pg101).
Female action hero: Token or
 Elyce Rae Helford: “we would not have female action-adventure
heroes without a feminist . . . consciousness” ; the heroine is
“composed equally of her story, affirmative action, equal
opportunity, and repudiation of gender essentialism and
traditional feminine roles” (293).

 Sherrie Inness: Tokenism - far “stronger and faster than a typical

woman” displaying “new varieties of toughness”
 an alluring fantasy of transcendence and power in “a society
where women are too commonly raped, assaulted, and
murdered” glorifying the exception in order to “obscure the limits
of mobility” and “the rules of the game of success” (Inness 8).
 Genz: "a continuous play between passivity and activity,
vulnerability and strength, feminism and femininity, individualism
and communality” (p. 153)
Madonna as the epitome of the impersonation of
various femininities as a cultural construction
performativity as both transgression
and normativity, empowerment and
 Judith Butler: “For a Careful Reading”
 “gender performativity is not a question of instrumentally
deploying a ‘masquerade’ ” for such a construal of performativity
presupposes an intentional subject behind the deed (p. 136).
 “On the contrary, gender is an involuntary and imposed
production within a culturally restricted space and it is always ‘put
on’ under constraint as a compulsory performance that acts in
line with heteronormative conventions. In this way, femininity is
‘not the product of a choice, but the forcible citation of a norm,
one whose complex historicity is indissociable from relations of
discipline, regulation, punishment’ (Bodies 232).” (Genz, p. 14-
E. L. James: Fifty Shades of
 Obedience
 Sleep
 Food
 Clothes
 Excercise
 Personal
 Hygiene/Beauty
 Personal safety
 Personal Qualities
 Women perform 66% of the world’s work
 Earn, produce 50% of the food, earn 10% of the
income and own 1% of the property

 26.5% of African American women are poor

 23.6% of Hispanic women are poor

 11.6% of white women are poor

 Women’s sexualized bodies function as a
currency to sell
 Women
 Passivity, powerlessness
 Masculinity
 Force, power, intimidation glamorized and
 Baumngardner, Jennifer & Amy Richards. (2000). Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future. New York: Farrar.
 Baumngardner, Jennifer & Amy Richards. (2004). Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism. New York: Farrar.
 Baumngardner, Jennifer. (2007). Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics. New York: Farrar.
 Brooks, Ann. (1997). Postfeminisms: Feminism, cultural theory and cultural forms. New York: Routledge.
 Doane, Mary Ann. (1991). Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis. London and New York: Routledge.
 Doane, Mary Ann. (1992). “Film and the Masquerade: Theorizing the Female Spectator.” The Sexual Subject: A Screen
Reader in Sexuality. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 227–43.
 Genz, Stephanie. (2009). Postfemininities in popular culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
 Gill, Rosalind & Christina Scharff, eds. (2011). New femininities: Postfeminism, neoliberalism, and subjectivity. London:
Palgrave Macmillan.
 Gwynne, Joel. (2013). Erotic memoirs and postfeminism: The politics of pleasure. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
 Inness, Sherrie A. (1999). Tough Girls: Women Warriors and Wonder Women in Popular Culture. Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press.
 Inness, Sherrie A. (2004). “Pretty Tough: The Cult of Femininity in Women’s Magazines.” Critical Readings: Media and
Gender. Ed. Cynthia Carter and Linda Steiner. Maidenhead: Open University Press, pp. 123–42.
 Inness, Sherrie A. (2004).“ ‘Introduction: Boxing Gloves and Bustiers’: New Images of ToughWomen.” Action Chicks: New
Images of Tough Women in Popular Culture. Ed. Sherrie A. Inness. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1–17.
 Negra, Diane. (2008). What a girl wants: Fantasizing the reclamation of the self in postfeminism. New York? Routledge.
 Phoca, Sophia & Rebecca Wright. (1999). Introducing postfeminism. London: Icon Books.
 Roach, Catherine M. (2009). Stripping, sex, and popular culture: Dress, body, culture. New York: Berg.
 Smith, Caroline J. (2008). Cosmopolitan culture and consumerism in chick lit: Literary criticism and cultural theory. New
York: Routledge.