Thursday, November 12, 2009


Sex and nature sell—perfume, vehicles, cigarettes.   Janine DeBaise opened the discussion of Ecofemisim with a file of collected magazine clippings.  Most of the skin shown was that of women (although we did see one advertisement featuring a scantily clad man).  We found two extremes:  a video console ad that claimed “there is a beautiful naked women” under game screenshots strategically placed over portions of her body, and a Maidenform ad with photos of a baby chicken, a doll, a tomato and a fox, and text that reads "While the images used to describe women are simple and obvious, women themselves rarely are."  4WD vehicles were shown in places vehicles really shouldn’t be (wilderness areas, far off-road, mostly with solitary men conquering nature). These wilderness areas were also the backdrop of many of the perfume ads—“perhaps to make them seem more natural?” we asked.  High heels seemed out of place in some of the ads, too, but perhaps not more so than the rest of the attire featured (particularly one set in the desert where the models donned only their skivvies and heels.)
It’s been a while since Janine sorted through the file, and she expected many ads to be dated—but the only ones that seemed to be were the Marlboro men, rugged, solitary characters whose product simply doesn’t get advertised in the same venue anymore.  How does this compare to the ads we see on television today?  Do any cleaning products commercials feature men?  Not really—its women doing the cleaning, using sprays and candles to make their houses smell homier.  Sex still sells:   a new line of lingerie offers to increase bust size by 2 cups!   At least we haven’t seen bikini-clad beer bimbos lately, and women are much more likely to be portrayed as Moms than as vacuous or a shrew—although those ads still do make an appearance.  We also contrasted the happy, carefree models wearing pajamas to the severe expressions on the lingerie models.  To us, this said:  pajamas are comfortable; that lingerie, perhaps not.  Be comfortable, be happy.  Probably not the message some of the advertisers hoped we’d take home.