Sexism is an actual strategy in advertisement, especially against women, although it has been appreciated like more violent in past, it is still damaging women’s dignity, behavior and thinking.
First of all some concepts to clarify the topic, are sexism and advertising.
Sexism is defined as: “Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women; Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender”. (Oxford English dictionary, 6th edition).
Advertising can be defined as: “the activity or profession of producing advertisements for commercial products or services; Advertising is attempting to influence the buying behavior of customers or clients by providing a persuasive selling message about a product and/or service”.
(Oxford English dictionary, 6th edition).
In old advertisements we could see an explicitly how women were battered by their husbands, it was appreciated as a normal thing, even being promoted by advertising; the men had the right to abuse their wives in order to teach them where was “their place”.
Although today we can see some ads talking about respecting women and condemning the abuse against them, the advertising still mistreats women in many aspects and affects their lives and behavior.
Woman is seen as a sex object or decorative object. The ads we can see today in the street, television, Internet, radio or print media show us the view that in advertising the value of women is her body and body image, rather than their ability to promote a service or product with ideas and good arguments. Some examples are beer ads that show beautiful and scantily clad women to catch consumers’ attention.
In this case we can not only appreciate the use of women as objects but also the prejudice of “men’s products” in this case the beer is seen as a product consumed only by men, as also happens with cars and cars’ products. A text published for San Joaquin Delta college (1997) says “Advertisements like these, though seemingly aimed towards women, are actually exploiting them en route to their actual target: men” (para. 2). This means that men are de main receiver of this kind of advertisements because they are seen like the main consumer. And clearly most of the ads that with can see everyday are meant to men.
This creates the idea that women are another product of the market, which can be bought, because you can get them for buying a car or a beer. Even more, it would not be necessary to buy them because women love men who have a beautiful and luxurious car and they are even able to run after a man who uses a determined deodorant or perfume. This creates in man the idea of women as a trophy and he is able to buy and use certain products or services to achieve having a beautiful woman by his side.
Through many ads we see how the image of a beautiful woman is used, without any justification, since it is not related to the product being promoted and there is no reason that joins the use or purpose of the product with that image.
The meaning of that image does not represent the meaning of a certain service, and neither is not part of what the user searches, nor part of the functions that service provides.
It seems that the female body is seen as a decoration in advertising, it is seen as an ornament as the background or the colors used in an advertisement.
Rather than consumers of those products women are seen as a striking accompaniment to show the product or service.
Advertising creates in women a feeling of discomfort and dissatisfaction with their bodies and possessing material goods.
Through ads we can see beautiful women who have greater opportunities, get what they want easily, appear to be most desired and cherished and have a happier and easier life. That is why this type of advertising is of great importance not only in the consumption habits of women, but also in their thinking, as most are influenced by this endless search for beauty whether through diet products, cosmetics, fashionable clothes or Through cosmetic surgery to alter her physique according to standards of beauty established by magazines and advertisements of all kinds.
These standards of beauty are deeply rooted in our society and women of all ages are influenced by them, besides the advertising and the market have been responsible for creating products for all ages, so every woman can have a need and a product to make she think in a feeling of satisfaction when buying this product . For example if you’re a teenager you need products against acne and if you’re older you need products against wrinkles.
These products create in women the idea of material needs that they really do not need. Then every day there are new products been created, products that are not really primordial and that in most of the cases do not achieve what they are promising to the consumers.
Today we can see in all kinds of media the image of thin women as a standard or prototype of beauty. This can create in women, especially in young women, an obsession with thin bodies, with an urgent and fast lost of weight and whatever is need to achieve the perfect body.
We could say that these images of thin women and its appreciation in an aesthetics way rather than a healthy life or having a healthy body, influence the physical and metal vision that women have about their own bodies.
The losing weight is shown by the ads as a miraculous event, which should be fast and promises to women success, happiness and even love and men desire. So trough this lies and false promises women see the solution to some self-confidence problem.
There is no legislation that can protect consumers from the false promises or false results that some products can offer, so women are not only prone to be cheated bye these ads, but also lacking of support.
Today’s ads promote the idea that women are inferior, less capable or less intelligent.
today’s advertising promotes the idea that women are not capable of performing certain activities due just to the fact that they are women, or if they do, they are responsible of accidents because they are not capable or have a lower level of intelligence or simply because it is an activity that only men can do well. One example is an advertisement that shows a beautiful woman who carelessly crashes her car boot to another at the back, then is deceived by a man who says to be the owner of the other car, asking for her phone number to a supposed “reckoning”, the advertisement hints a possible meeting between the characters, and a man’s double intention of seducing the beautiful woman.
Just as there are activities which by their difficulty can only be performed by men, there are activities that are mandatory tasks for women such as child care, housework, etc.
That is why cleaning products and domestic products are promoted by housewives and men in any case are users of these products.
This is complemented by the idea of a chauvinist society, not only created by men, but also being promoted by the women themselves, as they have the image of themselves as responsible to do the laundry, the house cleaning, the cooking, etc. Ads are cooperating in this mentality, with women being the target of cleaning products.
In conclusion, I could say that there are many disadvantages in the use of sexism in advertising and it affects men’s and women’s minds, especially women’s, who have been and are, exposed everyday to ideas and advertising strategies to control their behavior, thoughts, culture, etc.
Some of these ideas and advertising strategies can cause damage not only in women lives but also in our society and personal life style.
In my opinion advertising and today’s society are responsible of many ideas an stereotypes that influence women and in some how cause them feelings like frustration, dissatisfaction and anxiety about their bodies, clothes, material goods, behavior, etc.
Also I think that they can cause great damage in people who are more likely to be influenced by ideas and stereotypes that Advertising offers today, like adolescents who are bombed with promises of beauty that would bring them self-confidence, happiness, love, friendship, admiration, fame, and a social status that would be respected by their peers.
Because of these that ignore or allow this kind of violent and discriminating advertising in our society should not be accepted, we should be active and conscious consumers of advertising, products and services. Keep our eyes open to see what is behind the messages that we are receiving every moment, in order to protect our selves, our family and our pocket.
Besides if a product is good for us and useful for our lives, is does not need sexism to be sold.