Selling Stereotypes: Sexism in Advertising

By Devon White

YouTube Preview ImageTurn on your TV, thumb through any mainstream (on-the-counter) magazine or drive by the suggestive billboard on your way home, and you’re likely to encounter some form of sexism in advertising. According to Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog, sexism is defined as “… discrimination based on gender and the attitudes, stereotypes, and the cultural elements that promote this discrimination.” Sexism can be seen in ads through the imagery of women as sex objects, domestic archetypes, or pure props in male-driven scenarios. A 2008 article on the Huffington Post highlights images of bondage and rape as some of the prevalent trends in consumer ads and nearly two years later, those trends are still evident today. These stereotypical ads vilify and eroticize women, and create an unrealistic expectation of women’s gender roles.

 Sexism is not new to advertising; Jezebel has examples of ads from a not too distant era that are equally as disturbing as their contemporaries. Bitch Magazine is taking a poll on recent TV commercials that eroticize and/or stereotype women to push their products. As of today, the ad in the video has received the most votes to lead the sexist pack.

 These ads are not only damaging to gender equality, but speak to the necessity of more women in the advertising industry, currently a male-dominated field. Women make up 85% of consumer purchases in the United States; yet only 3% of women are creative directors in advertising agencies. I was browsing the internet and ran across a recent Skyy Vodka ad that clearly suggests phallic worship. This blatant sexual suggestion reiterates that the field is in need of decision makers who come from diverse backgrounds and are culturally competent if they hope to appeal to a broad, diverse audience.

 Sexism is something that we must address in today’s society. This issue is far too damaging to long-term psychological issues and social beliefs.

 Which ads would you consider to be the most sexist? Are you less likely to buy the product because of their offensive advertisements?

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2 Responses to Selling Stereotypes: Sexism in Advertising

  1. clarkp says:

    They are not the worst offenders, but for shear volumne I nominate ANY Axe commercials. A recent commercial focused on cleaning balls…no innuendo there.

  2. Devon says:

    I agree, those Axe commercials have a obviously sexist slant. Thanks for your comment!