Stereotyping in Advertisements
Stereotyping in Advertisements
Susan Bordo argues that an advertisement can function as an informational exchange site with capability of reinforcing, redefining or even challenging stereotypes. This is quite true considering some advertisements will tend to show women engaged in certain tasks while men will be engaged in different tasks. This is evidenced in ASDA’s Christmas television advertisement, in which the woman does all the domestic chores while the man is just sitting. The phrase in the advertisement says that ‘behind every Christmas there is mum’ and that behind her there is ASDA. The first time one views the advertisement; one gets the notion that women are responsible for doing everything around homes, which reinforces the old stereotype of women as domestic workers.
When one encounters the advertisement for the first time, a lot of information is realized. However, this depends on an individual. While the advertisement tries to use reality to depict people’s lives, it does not relate to all. It shows a super woman who does everything from cooking, shopping, decorating the house, sending mails and cleaning the house. In some homes, this is the case where mothers are responsible for all the chores in the house whiles men read papers and other things not related to house chores. However, some homes share all the chores equally where the father cooks or does something else. One gets the information that women are responsible for making their families happy during the festive season. It seeks to represent real experiences back at home.
Although people have moved on from the mindset that women are supposed to work at home, many areas in society remain the same. Such stereotypes might go far into future considering children are quick to catch this depiction of gender roles. Such depiction of gender roles will influence children to grow believing that women are supposed to be the domestic workers while men do nothing at home. It also influences the kind of activities that children engage in. in some instances, girls will engage in activities relating to house chores while boys will lean more on outdoor activities.
The main message exchanged in this advertisement is women as the main source of happiness within a home. It suggests that Christmas cannot be any good without the mother to cook and serve the family amongst other chores. This is not true considering that some families will not have mothers. Some could be made up of single parents while others are gay couples living together. In addition, many women who watch such advertisements are usually sitting on the sofa eating processed food instead of having to cook. The advertisement puts across the message that women are hardworking and caring to their families.
Conversely, men are depicted as lazy people who are not sure of their choices and do not know where everything is supposed to be. At the start of the advert, the man is not sure of which Christmas tree they should buy. The wife on the other hand is quite sure of the choice she is making. At this time, the husband is getting impatient of waiting for the perfect Christmas tree to be chosen. At home, the wife has to show where the tree will stand as the husband pushes it. The other seen the husband appears is where they are eating at the table and after eating. Another woman helps the wife in clearing the dishes while men are seated watching television and reading papers. This depicts the men as lazy, childlike and with uncertain taste, as well as a gender that hates working.
The advertisement acts to reinforce the old gender stereotype of women as domestic workers. In the 19th century, majority of women worked at home running domestic chores. Today, anybody irrespective of gender can engage in any kind of work including domestic. In this advertisement, Christmas has been presented as the work of a wife who is served with all the responsibilities of making it a happy one. Instead of showing both men and women engaging in similar activities, it shows a clear difference between activities done by each. This has the effect of reinforcing the stereotype.
With such advertisements, the opposite would be unfamiliar to people where nobody expects to see an advertisement where a man cooking, cleaning the house, feeding the baby and setting the table while the wife was sitting. To many, it would seem awkward and inconsistent with social norms that people have known. Being used to this norm reinforces the stereotype where everybody will always view some tasks as feminine while others are masculine. As aforementioned, it is deeply enshrined in children who are able to reason and realize the differences between the roles played by gender. Such an advertisement ensures that the stereotype is carried into the future by the growing generation.
To challenge such a stereotype, it will require the media advertisements to concentrate on balancing the roles played by both genders. No advertisement should depict a certain tasks as meant for one gender. Advertisements that show gender sensitive roles reinforce the stereotypes. In contrast, advertisements that do not focus on specific roles for each gender help in eliminating such stereotypes while those that show one gender engaging in an activity previously meant for the other challenges the norm. In the discussed advertisement, children are most influenced especially by seeing children spending much time with their mother at home while the father is not anywhere to be seen.
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