elanor_x (elanor_x) wrote,

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Influenced by Advertising, moi? Musing on ads & the image of women.

Aka "I hated Bill Gates before it became so fashionable" [from a web comic]
Killing Us Softly – Advertising's Image of Women

This serious theme is shown in an original & very humorous way in the 30 minutes long video.


Note: I used * standing for the letters “e” and “o” in some words due to fear (hopefully unreasonable) of lj’s banning policies. Do you think I’m paranoid or was it the right thing to do?

In the comments here, one user said (translation from Russian):

"The problem isn't really connected to gender. The real problem is announced at the forth minute, but isn't identified as a problem, since such identification could be dangerous for that person.

"It [Advertising] sells values, it sells images, it sells concepts of love, s*xuality, of romance, of success, and perhaps, most important, of normalcy. To a great extent, advertising tells us who we are, and who we should be".

It's painful to live in a society, in which advertising tells people who they're and who they should be. But it's improper to fight that. It's easier to engage in feminism".

Another person answered:

"If the gender component is 95% of "who we should be", may be it isn't meaningless to fight with feminism?"

The image of women and the influence of advertising affect each other, but are two separate issues nevertheless. Both of them are quite problematic. Advertising does enforce the powerless, degrading, "s*xy" image of women, but those are ancient stereotypes from times, in which it barely existed. Weren't women viewed as inclined to hysterics, unsuitable to become scholars or wield real power in Victorian England, for example? There was no need for ads to enforce the stereotypes of women as childlike and powerless.

I think advertising did influence the "s*xy" component of women's public image more then others. There were always ideals of beauty, but before the development of technology most people saw only other usual people, of whom few were outstandingly beautiful, according to the cultural standard. Now we constantly see photoshopped or even entirely created by computer programs models, and it's bound to have some effect on the way we view real people around us.

As for the problem of advertising telling us what's normal, of course, people are influenced, both on conscious & subconscious level, by the images bombarding them every day. Even if you don't have TV, one encounters ads on the way to work/shop. They are everywhere: in newspapers & magazines, on the billboards, on radio ("Special discount for nose jobs at X clinic! Only today!" from a hostess of a musical program, featuring songs about love), etc. One survey found that people see several hundred ads a day!

There are only two ways, I can think of now, to fight that. The major one is to invest as a society in the enhancement of people's critical thinking skills. It's a pity schools don't pay more time (at least, mine didn't) to their development in their students. Those skills would not only help to diminish the effect of advertising in particular, but also lead to general better understanding of the world (f.e. politics), which became even more important in our saturated with information age, & give people strength to withstand social pressure (just because all my friends wear brands/drink/smoke/are dieting/believe in something, I don't need to do that to be happy/lead moral life). After all, independently thinking people are much harder to manipulate. Imo, an hour a week of a good critical thinking class would be much more effective than X hours of "Just say no to drugs/smoking/unwanted by you s*x/etc", which students ironically do get.

Another method, which can be effective only in combination with the first one, is to set limits on advertising. For example, limit advertising to kids, due to children's impressionable minds and limited capacity for evaluating information. Some steps have already been taken, but there is still a long way to go. Limiting number of ads in programs for adults would be great too. We used to watch a telenovela and, at least, quarter of its' time was taken by ads. In the video she said that TV existed for and by selling us things, but something probably still could be done.

* This link has additional 2 videos in the comments. The first one is about the representation of men in pop culture, and the second one is a shocking ad, trivializing violence against men & linking it to an unwise chosen Valentine's Day present.

*Quoted from the second edition of the Carnival Against P*rnography and Pr*stitution
In Flesh and Bones: P*rnography and High Fashion as Complementary Mediums for the Dehumanisation of Women, in Off Our Backs Sascha Cohen explains how both these mediums objectify women equally.
"The p*rn industry capitalizes on the s*xual aspects of male resentment toward women, while the fashion industry knows that women can be counted on to loathe themselves, if adequately primed. Thus one could argue that high fashion incorporates aesthetics that no living woman could ever achieve, while p*rn includes exaggerated versions of the way many women already look."

Lots of good stuff there.

Tags: philosophy
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