Women in the Media: Empowerment or Objectification?

Each type of media, whether it is news, opinions, entertainment or advertising, is aimed at a target audience with a particular message that the company is trying to convey to their viewers.  Through the desire of the companies to connect or relate to their target audience many will play-up certain ideologies, stereotypes and other social influences that may be important at the time.  Media can divide individuals and our thoughts further through pointing out the divisions within society along with reminding us of the stereotypes that exist and make-up the biases that surround us today.  Gender and race are usually singled out in the media by focusing on gender inequality between men and women and the segregation of race, even through in today’s society we claim to no longer be fighting these discriminations.

There are numerous negative advertisements in the media today, but every now and then you find one that addresses social issues in a realistic and inspiring way.  In 2013 Pantene launched their Boss vs. Bossy commercial which puts the double standards between men and women into a relatable setting.  The commercial blatantly points out the differences between men and women within the workforce along with society and their personal lives.  Along with how particular actions will be viewed differently depending on the gender of the person committing them.  It confronts the ideologies and stereotypes that surround gender in an interesting and appealing way.  The commercial features Tears for Fears’ version of “Mad World” as images of men and women are contrasted. The men are called “boss,” “persuasive,” “dedicated,” “neat,” and “smooth.” The women, appearing in the same contexts, are labeled “bossy,” “pushy,” “selfish,” “vain,” and “show-off.”

Ideologies:

Women are seen as demanding and a nag whereas men are seen as demanding authority and giving insight.  Women are judged because of their beauty versus men who are judged on their intellectual knowledge. Society, no matter how much we may deny it, still places women at home while the men work.  Although there is nothing wrong with that type of lifestyle, it is also not for every women and should not be thrust upon as so.

Stereotypes:

The stereotypes that are presented only further support the ideologies.  The commercial plays on the common misconception of women being emotionally uncontrollable and men being physically in control and calm, which is a stereotype that is very prevalent in society today.

Also, if you noticed all the actresses and actors are of Asian background that is because the commercial was only aired in the Philippines, which may say something about the U.S media system.  Why was this commercial only aired in the Philippines?  After all it is just a hair commercial.  The problem may be the bluntness of it.  Discrimination is something that many believe we have risen above.  Which is true we have come a long way from where we once were but the truth of the matter is that gender issues, along with a number of others, still exist today.  We are still a long way from reaching the end goal of total equality.

I like this commercial but it is still a commercial with a larger goal than just fighting the labels that are placed upon women.  Pantene wants to sell their products, and they are doing so by saying they understand what women fight for each day but if you use our product it will help you be strong and shine.  “Pantene asks everyone to wipe away the double standards that hold women back. Because when you stand strong, you shine.”  Pantene is not the only company to use this empowerment approach, Dove and Cover Girl have also found success through giving women strength in who they are naturally.

Pantene

Dove

Cover Girl

My question is how natural is it? Are these commercials really helping promote the power of women or further restraining women through promoting an idea of power through beauty/wearing make-up?  Yet, at the end of the day I would much rather have my 12 year old niece watching these commercials rather than the commercial for Carls Jr.

How the Media Failed Women in 2013

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