Media plays a great influential role in our everyday lives even if we don’t know it. Both females and males are exposed to ads every day whether it’s a pop up in between playing your favorite game or a tv ad. These so call ads are trying to sell people products, yet they are so many subliminal messages society is subjected to that influences our thoughts and perceptions of ourselves. In this essay it will provide a personal experience of one's skewed perception of beauty due to the advertisement industries, how not only females but males are affected by these ads because if seen doing a “feminine” tasks their sexuality is questioned and or females are seen as their sexual prize for doing their task. Lastly, the objectification of gender has created the sexualization of culture.
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To begin, as a young teenager, social media has been an influential part of my development into who I am today. Growing up I’ve always had my insecurities everything from an obsession with having a flat stomach, to making sure I fit into a size 0 jeans because if I didn’t, I was considered “fat and not pretty”. As I got older beauty, fashion and makeup trends became increasingly concerning, only a couple years ago did I began to question if I was beautiful; if I did not have the biggest “Kylie Jenner lips” if I was not “slim thick” and lastly the fear of not being cool if I was not wearing “Hunter Boots” or had a “Calvin Klein purse”. With a negative mentality, and lack of self-love my mental health began to become an issue. I had my skewed perception of my own beauty which made me question my self-worth and who I was.
We are first to assume that females are always the victim to sexualization in ads, however, that is not always the case, just like females, males are just as affected by the advertising industry. A great example of a case where both sexes are objectified is in the “Cleanest of your dreams” ad for Mr. Clean. In this add the wife seems to have been seduced by her significant other cleaning the house in the form of Mr. Clean (Spot Commercial). In the end, you see the husband's real form and she jumps on him to show him affection with a tag line that follows “you gotta love a man who cleans” (Spot Commercial). In whole, the female is seen as submissive to her significant other and he is to be praised with sex for doing some house chores. In turn, it can be seen from the other perspective, where males are doing a chore that is for women. This can result in males questioning their sexuality and themselves where in contrast females would question their appearance and worth. This is because since the 1950s an image of the perfect housewife was created and the idea of the “ideal woman, gave a clear picture to women of who they were supposed to emulate as their proper gender role in society (Holt 1).” Thus, women will construct their personality around an unrealistic image that we still see in today (Holt 1). Furthermore, post-World War II and the cold war beginning the propaganda of Rosie the Riveted sparked pop culture participation where women began to seek employment elsewhere (Holt 2). It is great to note that in today’s society women are holding positions of power yet when it is advertised on tv the advertising industry still represents women as the “ideal women” (Holt 2). Moreover, it’s clear that the advertising industry refuses to acknowledge women as a separate identity instead they create ads that degrade them in either a stereotypical or sexualized way.
Therefore, with such shifts in advertisement came the generation of the sexualization of culture, this idea of notions was explored in a journal written by Rosalind Gill who had a look into a deep intersectional analysis that points out the sexualization of both sexes. Furthermore, she highest’s “the point that sexualization does not operate outside the process of gendering, radicalization and classing and works within a visual economy that remains profoundly ageist and heteronormative (Gill 137)”. Moreover, she argues that an open mind to differences is essential to begin to understand the phenomena and practices that are used together under the term equalization of culture (Gill 137). A couple of examples further support such claims. A scene from an advertisement video displays both male and female with ideal body types, muscular stature and cleavage that had all eyes on her, a male on his hands and knees, a well-dressed man and women helped down by a man with an adolescent gazing, sucking aggressively on a lollipop (Gill 138). A scene like so only exploits females by degrading them in the pop culture society by displaying that they are subdominant to men, hegemony is seen when the male is holding the female down since it displays who holds power between them both. Sexualization of culture is more than just sex sells, it is an umbrella term that can speak to a range of many different concepts such as; sexual practices, identities, values and the public’s views on fashion leading to more sexual attire and attitudes (Gill 140). These concepts are what keeps the sexual experience in our pop-culture prevalent (Gill 140).
Lastly with the objectification of women comes objectification of men, as in a lot of ads you seen in today’s society they are seen as the “sex objects”: as Gill refers to them as “The Six-packs (Gill 143).” Now taking a spot beside women in advertising, it is no longer limited to just women’s bodies, the rise in number has gained concern for males’ self-esteem, mental health and body image issues which would increase the numbers in those susceptible to eating disorders (Gill 143). However, Gill argues that the way men are represented sexually is different than women, this is said because of our long history of gender representation, society will have very distinctively different views (Gill 145). Also, the lingo that is used in tag lines a tittle is more sensible for example “new social movements galvanized the creation of the ‘New Man’, the reinvention of masculinity along more gentle, emotional and communicative lines (Gill 144)” in contrast to the degradation of women still present in ads today.
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In conclusion, is it prevalent that the sexualization of culture sparked from earlier days and has been modernized to fit society's views in the present day. Despite the positive shifts in ads females are still being exploited in images every day alongside men. The advertising industries lead to many negative assumptions about gender resulting in one’s self-doubt. This is shown through personal experience and views, a Mr. Clean commercial that was broadcasted at the 2012 super bowl, lastly a journal written my Rosalind Gill who provides an intersectional perspective on the insight to the sexualization of culture.
- Gill, Rosalind. “Beyond the `Sexualization of Culture' Thesis: An Intersectional Analysis of `Sixpacks',`Midriffs' and `Hot Lesbians' in Advertising.” Sexualities, vol. 12, no. 2, Apr. 2009, pp. 137–167., doi:https://doi-org.libproxy.wlu.ca/10.1177/1363460708100916.
- Holt , Jennifer. “The Ideal Women .” Stanislaus State, 24 Oct. 2019, www.csustan.edu/honors/documents/journals/soundings/Holt.pdf
- Spot Commercial. “Mr.Clean The Cleaner of Your Dreams.” Online Video Clip. Youtube, 14 Sept. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sEw60eSzWQ.
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