August 1

Sexism in advertising

What is ‘sexism’? Here are a couple of definitions:

“Sexism, also known as gender discrimination or sex discrimination, is defined as prejudice or discrimination based on sex; or conditions or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex.” Wikipedia

“1. attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles.
2. discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex, as in restricted job opportunities; especially, such discrimination directed against women.“

The following film clip shows a range of sexist ads dating back several decades:

This website provides many of the ads displayed in the above clip as JPEGs.

How do we know if an advertisement is using sexism to promote its products?

Ms Magazine is publishing a series of four articles clearly showing techniques used in sexist advertisements. In Part 1 of the series, Ms asks you to answer the following questions about ads:

• Does the image show only part(s) of a sexualized person’s body?
• Does the image present a sexualized person as a stand-in for an object?
• Does the image show sexualized persons as interchangeable?
• Does the image affirm the idea of violating the bodily integrity of a sexualized person who can’t consent?
• Does the image suggest that sexual availability is the defining characteristic of the person?
• Does the image show a sexualized person as a commodity that can be bought and sold?
• Does the image treat a sexualized person’s body as a canvas?

Here are the links to the four part article:
Sexual Objectification, Part 1: What is it?
Part 2: The Harm
Part 3: Daily rituals to stop
Part 4: Daily rituals to start
Here are some more articles from Ms Magazine which deal with sexism in advertising.
More here about offensive advertising.
Sexist Superbowl ads.

The Evolution of Beauty – this series of images, originally use by Dove, shows the manipulation of how a woman looks through makeup, hair styling and airbrushing, until the woman on the poster bears little resemblance to the model in reality. The message given in this film clip is a nice finishing touch to this unit of work.

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