Sexuality, Ideologies, and Gender Roles in Advertising

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For as long as advertising and mass media have been around, so has their incorporation of sexuality and ideologies. Day after day we are plastered by articles, images, and audible forms of advertising. I would estimate that the average person encounters between fifteen hundred and three thousand forms of advertising each and every day. Of those fifteen hundred to three thousand, it would be safe to say that more than two thirds of them portray sexuality and socially constructed ideals. Men, women, and children are on a daily basis targets of advertisements. As Susan Bordo hypothesizes in her essay "Hungry as Ideology," gender roles are the foundation for what the advertising agencies use to promote and push sales (139). They use the societal stereotypes of gender and sexuality and manipulate them so that we, the consumers, want to purchase their product. Sexuality, ideologies, and gender roles are not something new to the advertising world. They have been incorporated in advertising for well over the past fifty years, characterizing the ideal woman as an entity of sexual desire and submission, as well as the ideal man as a person of power and financial stability. Furthermore, decade-to-decade, the ideologies of the complete woman have changed. With this change have come new products and forms of advertising to sell them. Most women of advertising are tall, skinny, and very seductive. They are depicted as sexual beings and objects, rather than human beings or people (McManus). No matter the product, one can usually find something suggestive or subliminally sexual in every female advertisement, proving how the woman has truly become identified by her sexuality. There are two ways in which gender roles in advertisements are thrown at the consumer. The first one is how the person in the ad expresses their gender identity. The second is how we as a society deem the activities and actions appropriate of the person and the genitalia they possess...
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