Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sex Sells, But What is it Selling?

This collage focuses on the concept of masculinity and how its representations thereof are used to market products to men. Sex is used to sell to both genders by both genders; although, a more overt depiction of sex selling is the beautiful woman who becomes attracted to the masculine man for using a certain product being advertised. However, as in advertisements for make-up or certain deodorants (such as Old Spice), a beautiful woman sells to the common woman and a “rugged” man sells a product to the common man. Therefore, sex does sell, but it sells the ideal that in order to appeal to the opposite sex the consumer needs to use a certain product to be seen as masculine (or feminine) in the eyes of the other gender.

Here I have depicted ways that would be used by companies or organizations to sell the concept of masculinity to men. For example, the Navy’s slogan of “when the entire world is counting on you, it’s best to come prepared” is showcased by a fleet of battleships sailing toward a destination, ideas like this were influenced during the 1920s when the advertising industry generated “a body of theory and research on marketing,” (Breazeale, 231). In many of these cases, the advertisements are catering to the typical “man’s man”. And as society accepts, or rather expects, these men are after one thing--sex. By catering to this stereotype, they also market to a particular type of woman; the attractive, tall, slender, woman with “perfect” features. By using these products, men expect to be able to obtain these women for their own gratification; however, these women also exemplify the fact that only women with such looks are capable of gaining the approval of the aforementioned men.

Because this is a portrait of the way that a company would advertise to a certain demographic, it does not show the way that this collage also points out what is expected of the “desired” woman by society. The women are being told that if they want to be happy and get a man who is this archetype, they should not take on any of the characteristics associated with the socially dominant and masculine nature of men. It is in this dichotomy that the hegemonic processes of male superiority are being infused into American culture. If any similarities exist between the sexes it throws off the otherwise dominant power that is being perpetuated; it is this dichotomy that must be strictly adhered to if the advertisements are to be successful. This is shown when otherwise “feminine” are trying to be sold to men. Advertisers will therefore use more masculine language and give more information to uphold the “over-determined masculinity evoked by the rest of the advertisement,” (Kirkham and Weller, 270). Therefore, in the ads I have used to shape my collage, I showcased the masculine views of society involved with movies (i.e. James Belushi as Bluto in the comedy Animal House), video games, sports, war, and food and drink. However, by showcasing what society considers masculine, what is considered feminine is also highlighted because the views of each should be in direct opposition to one another.

Breazeale, Kenon. "In Spite of Women: Esquire Magazine and the Construction of the Male Consumer." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a Text Reader. Ed. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003. 230-243.

Kirkham, Pat and Alex Weller. "Cosmetics: A Clinique Case Study." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a Text Reader. Ed. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003. 268-273.