The media plays a huge role when it comes to shaping our learning. Our entire understanding of gender and equality has been moulded by not only our experiences, but through what we have seen in the media. This is why the issue of the representation of women in the media is so important. Advertising’s primary function is to create propaganda for commodities, to do this, it sells a “system of values consistent with the imperatives of consumer capitalism” (Cortese 2004, p. 12). It advocates unrealistic ideals of beauty and stereotypes women in order to sell products. This can have a detrimental impact on women’s notion of their own self-worth and identity as well as deepening the objectification women experience in an everyday context.
Women are constantly hyper-sexualised and treated as objects in today’s advertising media. The company, Lynx, is notorious for producing advertisements that are extremely sexist and objectify women time and time again. In addition to this, the advertisement below (which was eventually banned) (Poulter 2011), perpetuates the stereotype that a woman’s place is in the kitchen or performing some other domestic task. The campaign featured a model, Lucy Pinder, and asked viewers to “Play with Lucy” and “Put premature perspiration to the test” through its website, which further objectifies women (Sweney 2011). The advertisement aims to suggest that by using Lynx deodorant, men will become more attractive to women.
This kind of advertising uses a type of ‘humour’ to reach its target market. However, this can have multiple, serious repercussions in an everyday context for women and society as a whole. It can lead to men having unrealistic ideas of what beauty is and to the acceptance of rape myths and sexual harassment (Miss Representation 2011). In addition to this, it is contributing to an increasingly submissive attitude from women when faced with the type of media (Zimmerman & Dahlberg 2008), as it happens so frequently it is becoming ‘normal’.
Cortese, AJ 2004, Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising, 2nd edn, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc, USA
Miss Representation 2011, DVD, Girls’ Club Entertainment, United States, directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom
Poulter, S 2011, ”Degrading’ Lynx adverts featuring glamour model Lucy Pinder banned by watchdog”, MailOnline, 24 November, viewed 3 May 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2064946/Degrading-Lynx-adverts-featuring-Lucy-Pinder-banned-watchdog.html
Sweney, M 2011, ‘Lynx’s Lucy Pinder Ads Banned by ASA’, Guardian, 23 November, viewed 3 May 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/nov/23/lynx-lucy-pinder-ads-banned
Zimmerman, A & Dahlberg, J 2008, ‘The Sexual Objectification of Women in Advertising: A Contemporary Cultural Perspective’, Journal of Advertising Research, vol, 48, iss. 1, pp. 71-79