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Sexism in Advertising and General Media Essay

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From TV commercials and product placement to billboards and posters, thousands of advertisements bombard the average American every day. To be effective, an ad must attract the consumer’s attention, maintain the public’s interest, create or stimulate desire, and create a call for action. These advertisements can be small enough to fit on a three-inch screen or large enough to cover the side of a building. But no matter what the size, in this world of ever-shrinking attention spans and patience levels, ads have to be efficient in portraying their ideas. In order to successfully depict certain ideas, advertisements rely on shortcuts. These shortcuts usually involve stereotypes. In the media, stereotypes are inevitable because the audience needs to quickly understand information. Stereotypes reduce a wide range of different groups of people into simplistic categories. Stereotypes create realities out of assumptions. Because of this quick method that the media uses to simplify its messages, however, it is assumed that the media relies too heavily on sexist images. What kind of an impact does the constant bombardment of degrading imagery have on an audience? Does it really make a difference on the consumption patterns of the audience?
The concepts of gender and sex, however used interchangeably, have unlike definitions. Sex is a biologically determined factor: one’s body can be male or female. Gender is a culturally determined factor: one can be masculine or feminine. Gender roles are the general beliefs our culture has that constitute gender. Stereotypes in advertising conform to these gender soles.
To be feminine in the United States is to be attractive, deferential, nonaggressive, emotional, nurturing, and concerned with people a...


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...ut images sexist enough to be recognized and garner attention if it may lead to a drop in sales? Research suggests that only advertisements perceived as sexist affect the viewer. And, although a viewer may be offended, they will remember the company’s name. In the world of consumerism, name recognition equals higher general sales, whether unintentional or not it rings true that there is “no such thing as bad publicity”.



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