Gender Stereotypes in Print Ads
Below are five print ads collected to reflect gender stereotyping or stereotype busting in the media.
Above is an Ad for Del Monte ketchup circa 1953 . It clearly represents a gender stereotype of women being weak, while also tacitly reinforcing a second stereotype of women being housewives, or the gender in charge of handling food, and a third stereotype of the 1950’s housewife as being professionally dressed while she does her job. This woman is well coiffed, her nails and makeup are impeccable, and her dress is formal as represented by the elaborate brooch at the neckline. This ad is typical of gender stereotyping of women as professional housewives in print advertising in the mid-twentieth century.
Moving forward almost a decade, we can see that gender stereotyping continued. This ad not only states that wives are for cooking, but the wife is wearing a chef hat. Again she is well coiffed with hair and makeup in place while the husband character is dressed in a business suit, which implies that he is the job holder in the family. Additionally, the wife’s physical position is a subjective one, standing behind him and leaning against his back. This ad reinforces several gender stereotypes at once, as did the first ad: those of women being housewives who are responsible for cooking meals for their husbands; husbands being responsible for earning a living; and women being weaker than or subjective to men.
Moving forward to 2010, we look at an ad in the “Got Milk” campaign. There is no wife or woman in this ad, only a man; and yet it still manages to promote gender stereotyping of both sexes. The picture on the left depicts the man with a rather confused look on his face, wearing a crumpled and stained shirt, and is topped with the caption that says he is apologizing, presumably to a woman, for reasons unrecognizable to him. A second caption below the pictures says, “Everything I do is wrong,” and to finish off there is a third caption stating, “Milk can help reduce the symptoms of PMS.” A triple whammy! The ad is intended to relate that he is weak and subject to the irrational behavior of a woman with pre-menstrual syndrome.
The second photo depicts the same man in a stereotypical portrayal of strength in North American society: that of a football player. He is in full uniform including shoulder pads and his shirt is lifted to show his strong, muscular stomach. Instead of looking confused, he now has a stern determined mien and his stance is wide legged with arms crossed, body language that conveys an attack stance and defensiveness respectively (Chapman, 2009-2012). Overlying the two photos of the man is a silhouette image of a cow with the word “OR” printed in pink letters. So the ad is saying a man can be either a weakling subject to the irrational whims of a hormonal woman, or a strong, defensive man who presumably doesn’t take any crap from his woman.
Adversely, also in 2010 the above ad campaign was initiated to help break down the stereotype of nursing being a profession for females. The ad depicts nine men, three of whom are in nursing uniform, one who looks to be wearing a doctor’s coat, four in masculine sporting attire, and one in a business suit. Clearly, the message is that men who are masculine, as demonstrated by their activities outside of the workplace, are also nurses. The ad falls back on stereotypes of masculinity in an attempt to discredit a stereotype of masculinity.
This ad for Betteridge jewelers succeeds in busting through gender stereotypes. There is no language that would suggest any stereotyping of gender, just the photo of a man in a typically female pose wearing jewelry typical of the types worn by women. The only thing I would have done to improve upon this image was put long, white gloves on him.
What I love about this ad is that the man’s hands are so big and masculine, and the look on his face is a little impish, as if he is in on the joke . If there is any doubt that he is wearing women’s jewelry, the tiara acts as an eraser of that doubt. Also, the printed language of the ad speaks only to the superior cut and quality of the jewelry; there is no statement as regards the gender bending image. The image allows the viewer to recognize and perhaps become more aware of their own ingrained gender stereotypes.
Chapman, A. (2009-2012). Body Language. Retrieved from http://www.businessballs.com