Chapter 5 focuses on visual stereotypes in society. First and foremost, I found it interesting that they didn’t specifically discuss “white stereotypes” or “male stereotypes”. Instead, they focused on African American, Arab, Asian, Latino, Women, LGBT, and Native American stereotypes. Naturally being a woman, the discussion of women stereotypes was most intriguing to me.
Women stereotypes are no secret. Our book talks about how “men in almost every culture in the world and throughout the history of social interaction have thought that they are the dominant and more important gender” (Lester, 2014, 113). Lester goes on to say that “such patterns have thought to have led to prejudice and pervasive discrimination against women (2014, 113-114). What stood out to me the most was how Lester expressed advertising as the place when inequality between men and women is most prevalent. I find this true when I think about how I have seen how ads have put down women, focused on their benefits sexually, demonstrated a “picture perfect” and “acceptable standard” that women should look like and act like, and made women seem inferior to women. However, I do have to argue with this opinion. I can think on multiple accounts how the ads have made men out to be sexual objects as well. Not only are women emphasized for their “sex-ability”, but men are as well.
For instance, take this Kraft “Zest Italian Campaign” ad. Sure you could jump on this ad saying that this is to get women’s attention. That women are still being seen as inferior to women because they won’t be able to say no to men. But what about how this man is technically being placed as a sexual object? Wikipedia defines sexual objectification as “Sexual objectification is the act of treating a person as an instrument of sexual pleasure. Objectification more broadly means treating a person as a commodity or an object without regard to their personality or dignity” (2016). After reading that definition, can you honestly say that this man has not been sexually objectified? He was placed without little clothing in order for the pleasure of those who could be attracted to him, with the goal of selling more salad dressing.
Let’s go even further to say that this man is meant to give an impression of how other men should look. This ad, like many others, is setting a standard of what should be “socially acceptable” for a man to look like. Not only to say this man has been sexually objectified for women and/or men, but he also has now made other men and boys look at him with the desire to be just like him. Now they will think have to look like this to feel accepted and wanted by a woman and/or man when they undress.
So my point to Lester and society is, Aren’t there stereotypes for every demographic out there? Sure women have stereotypes and are separated, thrown prejudice, and discriminated against by society. But if you look hard enough you’ll find that you can say the same about men and even “whites”. I think the point is to stop separating demographics. There will never be equality when we keep picking and highlighting differences. No one will heal that way.
Lester, P. M. (2014). Visual communication: Images with messages (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
Wikipedia. (2016, February 18). Sexual Objectification. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_objectification