Gender socialization defines the attitudes and behaviors that the society expects of the two genders: male and female. It has four major agents, which are namely: family, peer groups, education, and mass media. The media is the most pronounced of the four agents due to its aggressive nature and is a key contributor to gender socialization. The media creates, maintains, and reflects the gender-based roles that characterize our social environment. The advertisements in the mass media particularly play a major pat in gender role socialization. There is much use of gender displays in various forms of advertisements. The femininity and masculinity factors characterize virtually all forms of advertisement. The advertisers focus on the gender socialization and relationships, as they fully understand that a glance is enough to communicate their intended message. They use the images of members of both genders to mimic reality and fantasy. The advertisements are successful in this as they take what already exists and alters it to reflect a distorted reflection (Lee, & Ashcraft, 2005)..
The advertisement images are usually coded with social cues with the most subtle ones influencing the way many people view gender roles in a society. The gender roles carried and learned through advertisement platforms are those of masculinity and femininity. The members of the two genders are portrayed in the advertisements in the socially constructed definition of masculinity and femininity. This paper will cover at least four advertisements that espouse gender socialization-Dolce &Gabbbana, Vodka, KFC and Schlitg.
The first advertisement, Dolce & Gabbana, has representation of both genders. The advertisement uses the images of five men and one woman to advance their message. The male characters are all masculine and dominant in terms of their body language. They have mean facial expressions and controlled body postures. The only female in the advertisement appears vulnerable as one of her male counterparts pins her down. Her body is contorted in a rather seductive manner as she lies on the floor as men stand over and around her-a clear portrayal of powerlessness and submissiveness. The advertisement objectifies both genders as sex symbols to advance its marketing course.
The Vodka advertisement has two characters, male and female. The male character is fully dressed in a suit and is seen lying on the bank of a swimming pool. He is further portrayed serving his female counterpart some Vodka in her glass. The female character is skimpily dressed lying on a swimming pool floating bed. She is depicted as playful and seductive at the same time. The advertisement uses sex and seduction to sell Vodka to its market. It belittles women by making them look like powerless sex objects, which should not be the case.
The Schlitg beer advertisement shows a man comforting his wife after her cooking gets burned. The advertisement quotes him saying “Don’t worry honey, you didn’t burn the beer.” The advertisement like the aforementioned ones depicts women as vulnerable and submissive to men. The advertisement also advances the notion that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. It shows a woman is only right if she abides by her husband wishes or if she does not tamper with what her husband deems valuable.
The KFC advertisement, Introducing Mom’s night-off feast, illustrates the gender bias in family set ups. The advertisement encourages the public to try out KFC meals rather than the homemade meals. The advertisement associates cookery with women, a gender bias that does not hold in the modern society.
Lee, J. W., & Ashcraft, A. M. (2005). Gender roles. New York: Nova Biomedical Books.