Ads like the hilariously sleazy one above are sadly common in print advertising, which loves to position women in degrading scenarios that, 9 times out of 10, have absolutely nothing to do with the product being sold. In 2002, Scott A. Lukas, a college professor, created the Gender Ads Project, a website that analyzes women’s roles in advertising, with nearly 4,000 examples.
The project breaks down the ads into different categories, based on the kinds of lady representation they show, such as ads featuring women in “traditional female” roles (moms, strippers, maids), violence against women, and women as objects. Each section includes a short explanation of the image and thoughts on the correlation between ads and their effect on gender and cultural ideology. This isn’t limited to the way women are represented but includes minorities (women of color, gays, lesbians), who are even more grossly misrepresented in ads than white women. (Proving that ad agencies are, at least, equal-opportunity offenders.)
These ads are everywhere and it often seems that we don’t think twice about the message these images send, particularly to young kids. Commercial misogyny has become such a familiar wallpaper that we’re almost blind to it. And that’s pretty freaking disturbing. Even when the ads are innocuous, they still often traffic in lazy cliches. Ladies can’t stop shopping! The only cure for a period is chocolate! Shooooooes!
Lukas created the website in the hopes of “promot[ing] greater awareness of the relationships of gender and advertising as well as an understanding of the social, cultural, political, personal, psychological and other effects of gender and advertising.” Hopefully this site will get more people talking–check it out and let us know what you think.
Photo Credit: lightscamerapropaganda.wordpress.com