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Youtube Jean Kilbourne's Killing Us Softly and Still Killing Us Softly videos. Her research looks at gender and how women (and some men) are portrayed in advertising - Essay Example

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Although admittedly, television depiction of women has changed over the last few decades, advertising still shows women and some men in traditional and…
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Youtube Jean Kilbournes Killing Us Softly and Still Killing Us Softly videos. Her research looks at gender and how women (and some men) are portrayed in advertising
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YouTube Jean Kilbournes "Killing Us Softly" and "Still Killing Us Softly" videos Television is renowned for representing and reinforcing mainstream ideologies and stereotypes of contemporary Western culture. Although admittedly, television depiction of women has changed over the last few decades, advertising still shows women and some men in traditional and stereotypical roles. Jean Kilbourne rightfully shows how advertising supports stereotypes and reaffirms traditional beliefs of the roles of women and men in the society. Most people consider television or media as the real portrayal of modern life, although such media supports unrealistic values and perceptions towards gender. This paper will examine Jean Kilbourne’s YouTube videos “Killing Us Softly" and "Still Killing Us Softly", discussing their innate messages on the portrayal of gender roles in advertising. Advertising reaffirms stereotypical gender roles.
According to Kilbourne (271), contemporary advertising focuses mainly on selling sex, and sex, in advertising, is pornographic. This is because it not only objectifies but also dehumanizes the subjects in the advert, particularly women. Advertising objectifies women and certain men, portraying them as easy, innocent, passive, needy and submissive persons. This underpins the typecast that women are second-rate to men or are less human than their male counterparts. In addition, advertisements continually portray women as sex objects to increase sales. This use of women as sex objects emanates from the mindset that, regardless of their age or social status, women are primarily nymphets, seductive and sexually instable (Kilbourne 281). This portrayal of women as objects only serves to fuel violence against women. The message portrayed by advertisements appeals to male customers, as well as female customers, who begin to believe that the ideal woman should look, act and feel the way a man wants. Ironically, the ideal woman portrayed in advertisements such as Axe and beer commercials as sexy yet innocent, beautiful and perfect and thin yet well nourished, does not exist in reality. When male and female characters appear on an advertisement, the females are portrayed as easy, passive and needy. However, when only female characters appear, they are portrayed as passive, innocent and aggressive at the same time.
On the other hand, advertising portrays men as powerful and highly dominant characters that are assertive, tough and experienced. This further reaffirms the traditional role of men within society. In essence, advertising also subtly encourages male violence by portraying the ideal man as forceful and dominant. Another common theme in advertisings’ portrayal of men is the perception that men value sexual intimacy more than they value emotional intimacy (Kilbourne 272). This image supports stereotypes, which define men as emotionally detached beings who do not easily show their innate feelings. With advertisements, perceiving men as powerful and women as largely passive and highly dependent beings, people continue to believe that these advertisement characters are the norm and ideal to emulate; thus supporting conventional stereotypes. It is quite rare to see a man portrayed as powerless in an advertisement. Advertising portrays men as having power over women. For instance, companies such as Senate sell male cloths with inside tags, which read “Destroy All Girls”. This message teaches the boy wearing cloth that power comes from “destroying” girls. This also shows how advertising portrays males as the powerful sex capable of exerting power over a person of feminine gender. Since advertising continues portraying women as being victims of male violence or the male gaze, the society continues to believe the ideology that men are inherently superior to women. Advertising fuels people’s attitudes towards gender, sex and power, so the images shown in advertisements dictate how people act, look and think. These perceptions continue to support gender stereotypes.
Work Cited
Kilbourne, J. Beauty and the Beast of Advertising. New York: Longman, 2001. Print. Read More
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