Here are two examples of some advertisements that I pulled out of a magazine. They are both for fashion designer Michael Kors, who designs women’s clothing. The first depicts three figures: two men and one woman. One man stands at the helm of the sail boat they’re presumably on and the other, in scuba gear, has his hand on the waist of the woman as he points out into the distance–seemingly explaining directions. The woman looks over her shoulder, with one arm around the neck of the scuba man, searching for whatever the man is trying to explain to her. The second advertisement shows two figures: one man and one woman. He patiently waits with his hand on the Vespa as she searches for something lost in her big bag. These advertisements, I feel, are both empowering to women and negative towards men.
The first advertisement breaks traditional gender stereotypes by portraying a woman in charge (Gamble, 2003). This is why: she is obviously the one who is, perhaps, employing the men in her company (one to sail the boat and the other to teach her how to scuba dive). We can tell she’s been scuba diving because her hair is wet and (seemingly) has just a tint of make-up on. The scuba instructor is merely her plaything, it’s not a serious relationship. The sailor is clearly in uniform and she is clearly wealthy: she carries a patent clutch onto a sailboat and has time to change into this fabulous outfit before her instructor even finishes with his scuba gear. In the second ad, the same woman is featured with her sailor–who’s shirt is off! That’s a bit unprofessional. These men featured in the advertisements are her “lovers” or “affairs”. This woman is wealthy, carefree, untroubled, and fashionable. What more could a girl ask for? The men, however, are objectified as another accessory that can be changed just as easily as she can change her outfits. So, this is empowering to women in the sense that is shows her with the upper hand–more money and more power. These ads also objectify men as another easily changeable accessory. Kors is trying to portray his product as the very same things he’s embodying in this woman in order to appeal to women who desire these things. These advertisements break every single advertising stereotype of women in the book (Gamble, 2003), even though it focuses on the woman looking good and fashionable; she can be fashionable, powerful, wealthy, and in charge, paving the way for whatever she wants in life.
Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
Kors, M. (2008, December). InStyle. Advertisement.
Kors, M. (2009, January). Vogue. Advertisement.