Gender Roles Essay, Research Paper
Gender role biases in advertisements have been so prevalent for so long that the untrained eye wouldn’t even discern it. All the same, these biases, for the most part, put women in subordinate positions and men in dominant ones. This assumption on both the genders is unfair and demeaning. These ads portray women as subservient and play toys for men. Not only do the models depict an image nowhere near close to reality, but their bodies are scantily clad and what few clothes they are wearing are very revealing.
These roles for females represent what the advertisement industry believe buyers deem as the real world. As Goffman asked,” What messages about women have been given to society through magazine advertisements?” (Goffman p.979) These images are broadcasted through television, films, magazines, etc., all of which are viewed by children and teenagers who in turn receive this false image of beauty and roles of men and women. For example, depicted in In Style magazine, is an add featuring a female and male representing exactly the gender role biases previously discussed. The girl is wearing a pair of Guess Jeans and a bathing suit top and the guy is wearing the same kind of jeans. The male’s face is partially hidden as he leans over the girl who is leaning on a tree somewhere in a tropical forest. The girl is staring into the camera seductively with her hands by her side, as the guy seems to almost be taking advantage of her. She depicts the docile and vulnerable female stereotype.
According to Goffman, these characteristics of docile women and aggressive men can be categorized through “frame analysis.” These relationships between the men and women displayed in the ads are described as one or more of the following: relative size, feminine touch, ritualization of subordination, licensed withdrawal, and family. With my ad, relative size plays a part in which the male is obviously larger than the female and he towers over her petite frame. For feminine touch, the male has a clenched fist on her shoulder and the other hand on a tree. His entire arm is holding her body in its place. This body language says that the male is in charge and takes an aggressive stance over her, while the girl just stands there limply and leaning on the tree. Its as if she would fall over if he weren’t there to hold her up. For function ranking, the male is clearly in the managerial position, as he seems to be overpowering her in every way. For licensed withdrawal, the girl featured seems as though she has left her body psychologically for the male counterpart to simply ravish. As in many rape cases, victims have stated that while they are being raped, their mind leaves their body as not to experience the horrible psychological or even physical pain occurring. This ad depicts a girl who does not seem present in the situation with a dazed look on her face and a motionless body. The family aspect doesn’t exactly correspond with this particular ad, as a family is not present. With nearly all of the “frame analysis” characteristics satisfied from this one ad, one must assume that although leaps and bounds of efforts have been made by society to free women from stereotypical gender roles, “advertisers are still relying upon their subordination as a tool in the attempt to sell a wide variety of products…” and with such subordination running rampant throughout today’s media, “this constant exposure to demeaning portrayals of women can lead to socially induced depression and lowered achievement aspirations…”(McLaughlin and Goulet p.67-68).
Erving Goffman’s ideas of Dramaturgy, the proposal that social life is often like theatre, are often present in ads like this one. Ads can be very dramatic and non-realistic. Advertisers know this and play on to that mystique. Who wouldn’t want to live the life of a famous play? It’s a rhetorical question that all advertisers ask when publishing an ad, and there isn’t a single person out there that wouldn’t chime in with a resounding “not me.” Of course there are the occasional two, but advertisers aren’t trying to appeal to them anyway. With the use of props, scripts, and characters, the creators can have anyone buying into the story. With just that simple photograph, an entire story has been told, with a moral, or lesson learned. That lesson is “BUY ME”. These ads have one function only and that is to urge buyers in whatever way possible to but their product. Unfortunately, this business has successfully been able to get a hold of and exploit that which all humans want: a better life.
It’s too bad that so many willing and even unwilling people have been brainwashed into thinking that that 75-dollar pair of pants is going to bring Tom Cruise to his knees. If only they’d known what we now know. It is all an act, a theatre, with characters that make you want to be them, know them, like them, or even despise them. No matter what the appealing concept is, it’s just a fa?ade. If only they could know what they are really buying into: a money grubbing business with not an ounce of care for the social being.