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Social Inequalities Perpetuated Through Advertisements"

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In American society there is an extreme imbalance of power between men and women; with men possessing almost all of the power it leaves women with little to none. The small amount of power that women do possess exists solely at the decression of the men who granted them the power to begin with. This inequality between men and women has been the status quo for centuries and unless there is a radical change, this imbalance of power between the sexes will continue for centuries to come. To shift the balance of power so that it is more equal, individuals must be aware of the inequality and where the ideals perpetuating the inequality come from. Advertisements are the primary influences that perpetuates the inequality between men and women by objectifying women; to shift the balance of power, the power must be taken from advertisements and neutralized by giving the viewer the power to see through the myths and ideology of the ad.

In "Undressing the Ad" by Katherine T. Frith she discusses the impact of advertisements on individuals and provides the tools for individuals to take the power and impact of the ad away by teaching the reader to break the ad apart and dissect not only its intended but also its implied meaning. Advertisements are created to sell a product by making it seem that it is necessary for the individual viewing the ad to purchase the product. In many ways advertisements manipulate people's ideas and beliefs without their knowledge by using certain stereotypes and ideologies as their backdrop.

There are three parts to dissecting the Ad, the first part is to get the overall impression that the ad gives the reader. Part two is finding the advertiser's meaning behind the ad, this is typically what the ad is selling; The final part is to find hidden ideological and cultural meanings in the ad, this is done by changing the ad mentally through picturing different people in the ad in different roles. Part three is the most important because following this step really changes the viewer's overall impression of the ad.

Part three of Frith's method has the viewer picture the ad in several different ways but always in way that contrasts the original add. First reverse the sex of everyone in the ad. Second change the race of the people in the ad. Third, change the age of the people in the ad by switching out old for young and vice versa. Another thing to keep in mind is who the intended audience is. Advertisers run several different ads for the same product in an attempt to reach different audiences and still be able to have the viewer connect to the product and draw the viewer in.

Looking at Figure 1 it is easy to see that a woman is mounting a man; while the emphasis is on their actions, the real intention of the ad is to sell clothing. Notice that the woman is already half undressed, if the roles were reversed and the man was half naked climbing on the clothed woman the man would go from being a passive participant to an aggressive over powering man and the woman would go from promiscuous to demure. It is also worth noting that the female is looking directly into the camera and thus out at the reader; the purpose of this is to make a connection with the viewer.

It is very common to see women in advertisements staring out at the audience; however, men rarely look out at the viewer. "In the average European oil painting of the nude the principal protagonist is never painted. He is the spectator in front of the picture and he is presumed to be a man." (Berger 54).This assumption that the audience is always male dates back to the Renaissance Period and consequently means that women will continue to be the focus in many ads.

Having women as the focus can blur the viewer's image of the ad. In Figure 2 the ad is for Sky Vodka but the ad sends the underlying message to the viewer that they will be able to get a beautiful woman if they purchase that brand of vodka. This add is a perfect representation of the point Berger made when he said advertisers use sex to sell products in hopes of making the viewer believe that "[t]o be able to buy is the same thing as being sexually desirable [.]" (144). The implied meaning is that when you drink Sky Vodka you become more sexually desirable.

The objectification of women in this way has paved the way for advertisers to become bolder with how they depict women in ads. Some ads, like in Figures 3 and 4 taken from a car magazine, blatantly use the women just to ensure that the viewer will look at their advertisement. In Figure 3 the woman shown is holding a car suspension part; but, obviously the woman only appeared in the ad to draw the reader's attention to it. This is quite an effective technique for the advertiser to use because the woman is so out of place it automatically draws the readers gaze to the ad whether the reader is male or female. The manner in which the scantily clad model is displaying the suspension part is very phallic and causes the reader to focus their attention between the models legs where it's centered. There also is a lustful look in the models eyes as she looks out at the viewer. This ad has a very sexual nature used to appeal to a man's desires.

The ad for Dropzone, Figure 4, is even more blatant. The model isn't even modeling any products; again she appears solely to get the attention of the reader. There is a tattoo on the models back of the company's logo; this is quite disturbing because it gives the impression that she, like the rest of the products displayed on the page, is for sale. This type of advertising



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