Advertising Social Constructs

Our westernized commodity-driven consumer culture has loads of dominant gender ideology in advertising. Masculinity = violence/power.  Femininity = perfection.  Our media is overflowing with unrealistic gender expectations, and it’s constantly reasserting unreasonable notions about suitable gender ideals. These concept have been blown out of proportion in recent decades (since the television boom of the 80s) and it’s been around long enough that we can’t seem to think of it differently.      The male-intended advertisements feature violent/powerful male icons; like athletes, boxers, military men, warriors, kings, and various desirable male pastimes. The female-intended advertisements feature flawless supermodels; lean, young, healthy, supple, and cheerful.

Most men resist, but are still aware, that violence has become a concrete means of achieving and asserting manhood in our culture. Even educated men use prejudice as a means of emphasizing their manhood [embracing exclusive inner circles, man-caves, guys night]. Favoring activities designed to distance themselves from perceived ‘feminine-spheres’, so that other males don’t accuse them of being un-manly.
50 years ago, the measure of a successful man was: to be good provider for his family. But modern men do not have the same goal, since women are now able to hold careers of their own. The modern male is so intimidated by the docile-ness of the modern world  that they now depend on manic-consumerism to draw attention to their masculinity.   Often with male-branded products [soaps for men, razors for men, bags for men, fragrance for men], anything that can be purchased to better demonstrate their male identity.

Common themes of masculinity in advertisements is : success and manliness, muscle, power, adventure.
Common themes of femininity in advertisements is : object, decorative/arm-candy, independent/feminist.

Men and women are forced live within the parameters of socially acceptable behavioral expectations of their genders, so that they can transition when the time comes.   Macho-aggressive skirt-chaser males, are expected to seamlessly evolve into a reliable-provider family-men. Their success as a male depends on their ability to achieve these socially valued things.     And likewise, women are expected to evolve from youthful flawless erotic cheerful dolls, into graceful cooperative self-sacrificing mothers and caregivers.
Why do we do it? because The Media tells us to. Gendered behavior is a social construct.

These patriarchal views appear to be common sense, and are legitimized as self-evident and natural. People defend it as their own individual viewpoints; and accept it, even when it oppresses people.  Hegemony is when the oppressed people accept the cultural preferred interpretation that oppresses them.   An example is when women agree that men ought to be in charge (and that they should be subservient housewives & be paid less). These ideas are wrong, but are legitimized because of media portrayals in our culture. These types of oppressive understandings keep women in subordinated positions, and pressure men to be breadwinners.


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