For something intangible, like a magazine ad, a glance can be a powerful thing. It can carry the weight of culture, history, psychological harm, and can even act as a muzzle. The trend of women being depicted as submissive, silenced individuals in print advertising is nothing new. In fact, more and more publishers are finding innovative ways to increase the use of this particular theme through the use of explicit innuendos, often times lacking any immediate connection to the product or service being promoted.
As instructed by my Mass Communication professor, I found five magazine ads that carry out this theme. Below I am going to carry out a myth analysis for each one and hopefully open your eyes to this ongoing theme.
Let me begin by first saying that all advertisements serve a PURPOSE! Hence, everything done in these ads are ON PURPOSE!
This advertisement is a perfect example of submissiveness. In this ad, the “model” is acting as some sort of stand. When I first saw this, I was immediately drawn to the placement of the shoes, in particular. The shoes on her back and head, in my opinion, implies stepping on her, pushing her downwards, while the shoe on her rear implies some form of domestic violence or the act of kicking her! It comes as no surprise that all of the shoes are male oriented; further signifying male dominance without having a male model present. Also, her face isn’t showing, as her own hair is used to cover it. Although I am not completely sure exactly where this ad first premiered, I am almost positive it was initially published in a magazine targeted at men, given the products she is ordained with.
“Back to School with A&F”
So, this is how Abercrombie & Fitch celebrates back to school. However, can you make out what they’re wearing? Is the guy wearing anything? Once again, the face of the female model is not visible. Not to mention that A&F has a target market of teenagers and middle-aged people. The paperwork on the chair leads me to believe that sex is acting as a “distraction” from any work they were attempting to get done. Not to mention, once more, that I cannot see one article of clothing they are wearing! The body language of the girl is what I described as “melting”. Furthermore, she is still fully clothed (I suppose) which leads me to believe that the male model is acting as the initiator, as he plans to undress her (I suppose). Way to go A&F! Perfect way to promote a Back to School clothing sale!!
Although this is an ad aimed towards women, it still makes the woman look submissive and the man look powerful like he controls her. The position of his left arm, partially around her neck, almost looks as if he is strangling her. Although his right hand is barely in the ad, from what I see it looks as if he is holding her hand, hence preventing her from any type of retaliation. While her movable hand looks limp, as if she is too weak to move. Similar to the previous ads, her face is also not facing forefront. Yet, this ad is for ladies perfume…..
What is Calvin Klein selling in this advertisement? If you said sex, well you’re wrong! Surprisingly, he’s still selling jeans! Once more, the face of the female is not recognizable. She is shown lying on her back, pushing her pelvic region towards the male model. Her legs are spread and her eyes are closed, suggesting in my opinion that she is not paying the male much attention, who is aggressively holding her legs. Her mouth is also open which suggest “accessibility”. However, the male model is in a very dominant position, as he is positioned over top of her. He is intensely staring at her in a way that makes her just a physical object, being that she is not staring back. This leads me to believe that he is fantasizing rather than appreciating her.
I chose to place this ad last because it basically says it all! It demonstrates how a man is ranked higher than a woman. It also demonstrates how women are always portrayed as large breasted and scantily clothed, while the man is fully dressed and appears powerful. The setting and theme is completely irrelevant to the product being sold. From the background it looks like the man is actually in the wrong place, as the female is dressed for the beach, which is where she is depicted. Her face…yup you guessed it, is not VISIBLE! Her body language is submissive; she is in no position to defend herself.
As I mentioned earlier, everything is done ON PURPOSE! If advertisers place women face front, it will be viewed as domineering which is against established norms and expectations; except when it’s all women being photographed at once, hence there is no sense of hierarchy and/or competition for a dominant role.
The media uses this to reinforce ideas about heterosexuality, power dynamics and gender roles currently in existence. By promoting such behaviors, they can make more money because they have the acceptance of the masses.