Sexism in Adversting

Advertising. The purpose of which is to sell a product. It’s that simple. In business, it is defined as a form of marketing communication used to encourage, persuade, or manipulate and audience to take action. It is also defined as the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering. While advertising is increasingly important in the world of business, essentially informing the public of what goods are being sold at a certain price, it has been heavily criticized for its association with discrimination, stereotyping, and also sexism.

Top Ten Most Sexist Commercials of All Time

Think about the women portrayed in various commercials. No matter the company is selling, the woman in the commercial has screen-idol looks: beautiful, slender, and other attributes that attract men to her and potentially, the product. Also, it is what the women are doing in these commercials, or magazine ads, billboards, etc that ruffles the feathers of all feminists group worldwide. Her tasks includes being a servant of men and children, a sexual or emotional play toy for the self-affirmation of men, a technically totally clueless being that can only manage a childproof operation female expert, but stereotype from the fields of fashion, cosmetics, food or at the most, medicine, and doing ground-work for others, like serving coffee while a journalist interviews a politician. Hard to believe? Watch T.V. for several hours at a time, pay close attention to the commercials and see what the women are doing.


Why is this? Well, the answer is simple. Men like to look at women. Not just any type of women, but incredibly thin, modelesque women. Apparently, companies find it easier to sell a product this way. A segment of Author Anthony Cortese’s Provocateur novel titled Constructed Bodies, Deconstruction Ads: Sexism in Advertising discusses this matter further. He writes; “It creates a mythical, WASP-oriented world in which no one is ever ugly, overweight, poor, toiling, or physically or mentally disabled” (p. 52). Here he discusses this utopian wonderland of advertising where everyone and everything is perfect. By presenting the flawless images, people will be inclined to purchase the product. Adverts subliminally tell women to be thin, looker younger, smell nicer, cook and clean more for their families, the list goes on.


Unfortunately, we live in an incredibly sexist society. The exploitation of women shows itself not only in advertisement but also in popular culture. Most pop and R&B musicians of today show off their bodies in sexual manner to please their male audience and influence their female fan base to dress like them. Most female artists feel they need to dress this way so the public will accept them. There was a time artist did not need wear skimpy clothes on stage and in their music videos. They were solely judged by their talent; but as the times changed, we became more obsessed with the way they look, how skinny they were, how they hair looks, what clothes they are wearing, etc. The problem here is the people. Our preferences influence these adverts.


Let’s create a parallel universe for a second. What every man loved the sight of a woman wearing a long gown, completely covering her entire body? What if every man loved the sight of a woman in a large overcoat? What if every loved to look of a women in uniform, not a tight uniform that complements her curves. What if every man absolutely loved the look of woman wearing baggy clothes?  Sexism would no longer consume advertisement and just like that, this problem is solved. For that to occur, we would to change human nature, which is evidently impossible. Men love to look at half-naked women. Period. Therefore, these companies create advertisement that pleases the consumer. Less we forget, women like to love at half-naked men as well. They are also exploited in advertisement to please women. Clearly, this is an issue, but it seems as if our preferences are an issue. How do we change that? Should these men and women continue to be exploited due to what we like to see? We as society need to change  if we want advertisement to do so as well. 

Work Cited

Milford, Chiara. “Sexism Consumes the World of Advertising.” Feminspire. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2014

  1. Cortese, Anthony Joseph Paul. “Chapter 3 – Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads.”Provocateur. Lanham (Md.): Rowman & Littlefield, 2004. 51. Print.

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