Sex Role Stereotypes in Contemporary Advertising

Stereotypes are learned by a certain person as he or she grows up. The identity that a certain group or person creates has an impact on how they are going to be perceived in the society. Like culture, stereotyping is an important element that can never be avoided because of the perceptions and beliefs that have passed from generation to generation. Although stereotypes can be represented within the mind of an individual, it can also be presented as part of the social fabric of the society and shared by people within that culture (Macrae et al, 4). In other words, stereotypes cannot easily be formed in the mind of a certain group or person. It may be influenced by the culture or other societal factors present in the society. Mass media can be considered as an influential tool in giving or promoting identities of concrete and abstract things in the world.The portrayal of women in mass media has been in the heart of debate in the society. Apparently, the role of women in the society has never been clear for both genders because of too many factors that hinder women to have their own identity. While men have been recognized as the provider of the economic well-being of the family, women , on the other hand, cannot be depicted of a single role because of many functions that women have been doing in this post modern society (Furnham & Mak, 1999). Although it has been clear that women should stay at home to take care of their kids and provide domestic services for the whole family, the technological world has given women opportunities to get out of their houses and mingle in the masculine world.Women in Post Modern WorldThe corporate lives of women have undeniably brought confusion to those who believe that women should play the role of a mother rather than work to be the second provider of the family (Powell et al, 152). Today, women are far different from women in the past centuries. The corporate world of masculine has been penetrated by strong women with their determination to walk in the ladder of success in this entirely different environment. Although some women stay at home to fulfill the traditional beliefs and expectation from them, some prefer to use their manpower for doing businesses rather than doing household tasks. Women bound to different surrounding giving new meaning to femininity and widening the definition of being a woman in the society. However, despite the changes of women in the society, there are still some factors that make women being perceived as domestic provider which causes negative perceptions from the society. The portrayal of women in mass media gives another connotation of femininity and depicts the changes as a phenomenon that can easily change in the future.Women in Contemporary AdvertisingEvery advertisement aims to promote and sell the product to the public. This method has been widely known ever since marketing gave birth to advertising to make the product stay longer in the marketplace. Apparently, the influence of this marketing communication has been proven because of numerous products and services that become known in the global market. However, every advertisement in the media sources do not sell and promote the product itself but also the idea that is associated in the product. The technological era in this century has left the mass media making them depict women in traditional manner.In fact, feminists could argue that the media’s influence is even greater now than before, with 24/7 news channels, hundreds of satellite and digital services offering everything from natural history to hard-core pornography, and picture messaging via mobile phones. And popular media such as film, television, newspapers, and magazines continue to frame (in ever sense of the word) women within the narrow repertoire of types that bear little or no relation to how real women live their lives (Byerly & Ross, 18).Today, despite the constant achievement of women in the society, the mainstream media continues to portray them as eye candy (Bennett, 2009). Moreover, women often lack power in the shows that media releases in the public (Tuchman, 528). Domestic violence is often the subliminal messages of some television advertisements that seem to give the public an idea that aggression is still accepted in this modern world (Hall, 6). In a magazine advertisement of one of the prominent apparel companies, the image shows a lady being gang raped by a group of men. The ad shows an image of a lady and a bare-chested man while holding her wrists on top of her. The lady lies on the floor and she is being surrounded by four more men who seem to be waiting for their turn (Walters, 2007).There are many other advertisements that portray different identity of women. The thin and skinny images of young ladies on billboards, the images of seductive women on television commercials, and the materialistic representation of women on motion pictures. Apparently, media forms another identity about women which becomes the perception of the society (Mcclellan, 2009).Advertising has a great deal to say about gender identity. Ads use visual images of men and women to grab our attention and persuade. They are really projecting display – the ways in which we think men and women behave – not the ways they actually do behave. Such portrayal or images are not reflective of social reality. In advertising, for example, women are primary depicted as sexual objects or sexual agents (Cortese, 57)Effects of Sex Role Stereotypes in AdvertisingAdvertising is undeniably powerful and influential in manipulating the mainstream. With the persuasive appeals and creative concepts, advertisers could predict the success of the product in the marketplace. However, the consequence of every concept that depicts the role of women in the society has been giving conflicts in today’s society. Young, beautiful, and attractive, that is how advertising portray women nowadays. These words have become the measurement of femininity in the society.People expect women to dress and act like the images that they have seen on media. This has been a painful reality of media depiction of women in the society. The constructed reality onscreen becomes the reality that people perceived as true because of endless release of advertisements showing seductive, young, thin, and powerless women. Unfortunately, this media portrayal hinders women to grow and improve in the society. The constant advertisements of marketers using women in negative way show their lack of power in the real society where they have already established a good and better identity.The society often fails to recognize the effects of this portrayal because of acceptance of people and brainwashing of media. The thin and skinny images of young women forces the ladies to discipline themselves in taking foods, encourages surgery, and develops new habit of skipping meal which often leads to health problems (Holstrom, 2004). The seductive women makes the people perceive them as sex objects and loses their respect for the reputation and dignity of women in the society. The beautiful images of ladies on advertisements have set the mind of the public about the standard appearance in order to be perceived as attractive. Women in movies give an impression to public that they are demanding and needy by nature. This is the perception of people to women which  has been offensive perspective to ladies who try to work harder to be able to buy their wants and needs without asking for somebody’s help. Advertisements with subliminal messages of sex and violence have made the people view women in a much lower level in the society despite the success that they have gained inside and outside the corporate world.Nowadays, women become the epitome of beauty that can be achieved only of those who can afford to pay for expensive cosmetic products and well-designed clothes. Every woman in the society is expected to have that standard physical look to be considered as attractive by the public. Millions of advertisements portraying women do not only give negative impressions, but they also require the change of standard of living for women. The clothes are artistically arranged in the store closets to influence the behavior of women and persuade them to buy that certain product despite its cost and level of necessity. Unfortunately, the persuasive advertisements sell not only the products but also the identity of women that are being bought by the mainstream. This portrayal affects not only the consumer’s behavior but also the perception of people toward women and their function in the society. Moreover, it changes the life of women making them more complicated because of inconsistent media portrayal that apparently give the mainstream an idea on how they supposed to be treated in this post modern world.Women have gone through a lot of hardships before they had finally achieved the rights that they have been fighting for so long and the recognition that they deserve from the society. On the other hand, advertisements need to have spices to persuade people to purchase the products; however, the society has somehow taken for granted the reputation of women that has been for shouting for attention and aiming to be taken into consideration. Definitely, there will be no more attractive endorsers of any brand in the global market than women, but women should be portrayed in the proper way too that the society will perceive them based on the reality constructed by women themselves.