Women in Media

Topics: Advertising, Saudi Arabia, Gender role Pages: 5 (1763 words) Published: April 29, 2014
“Portrayals of Women Internationally”

Women are portrayed in advertising all over the globe. They are represented in television commercials, billboards, and magazine ads; however different countries have variations on the ways in which these women are presented. The reasoning as to why these portrays vary from country to country is due to both cultural reasons, societal reasons, and even legal reasons in some cases. But despite all the diversity in the world women are still being stereotyped into certain roles that are not properly representing them. This is an issue that can be found in virtually every country even ones that consider themselves progressive and “gender equal”.

There are seven general roles that women in advertising are typically classified as, decorative, homemaker, work-related, sex object, social being, wife/mother, and product user. The sex object is one of the more widely used roles, it can be described as a women dressed in sexually appealing clothing usually in provocative poses, the product and the women typically have no correlation. The decorative role which is very similar to the sex object role simply is using a women to represent a product or service simply because she is attractive but not necessarily sexual. The wife/mother role represents the ideal wife/mother and is usually characterized with traits such as kind, virtuous, and well mannered. The homemaker role portrays a women in a home setting usually cooking and/or cleaning, this is differentiated from the wife/mother role due to the absence of children.The product user role is when a women is using or demonstrating the advertised product or service. The social being role usually portrays the women at some type of event such as a party or sporting event where she interacts with the product as well as other people. Finally the most under used role is the work-related role, this is any advertisement where the women is in a professional, academic, or occupational role (Holtzhausen, 2010).

In a country like the United States where most people would generally consider us a “gender equal” country one would think the roles that women play would be equally diverse as men, however this is not the case. Women are the central character in 49.1% of all advertisements, however the roles that they are given to play are very limited and do not properly represent the modern everyday women who typically play multiple roles in their everyday lives. Women in the United States primarily are featured in advertisements that are for home products, in fact 76.5% of all advertisements that feature women are selling some type of household product. This means that more than 3/4 of all women in television advertisements are in either the homemaker role or the wife/mother role. This concept may be rooted in the 1950’s “American dream” notion that almost always portrayed the women as a homemaker. The second largest role that women are portrayed in is the sex object and decorative role. 51.8% of advertisements in women's magazines portray women as sex object and the number rises to 75.9% in men’s magazines. And as far as the portrayal of women in work-related roles the number is less than 5% (Gilly,1988).

The United States is notorious for being “risky” and very highly sexualized in their advertising, even when sexuality is not linked to the actual product being advertised. For example, Carl’s Jr. uses scantily dressed women in provocative poses in order to sell cheese burgers. In most cases the advertisements do not even reference how the burger tastes at all. Unfortunately Carl’s Jr. is not the only company that does this, many companies stereotype women into only one role and therefore misrepresenting the various roles that are played by women in real life everyday.

In the country of South Africa the statistics are a little bit different. Instead of women almost being split equally for the central role in television advertisements, a majority...
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