Shakespeare understood it. So did Hugh Hefner, MTV, and Madonna. It is a simple fact of our society that sex sells. Companies caught on to this mantra and immediately capitalized on it to sell their goods. But advertising agencies took this idea a step farther and began to exploit the female body. They portray women as sexual objects who will drop to their knees and fall to the whims of any man. Unfortunately it is not the advertisers that developed this idea, but the idea that sex sells has been so imbedded in our culture that we don’t think twice when we see this in our daily magazines.
It is important to track the source of the where this idea of sexuality comes from. It is not the advertisers that decided to create designs and campaigns based on the objectification of women. The issue starts deeper, it is rooted in our society that the idea of sexuality appeals to everyone: “The iconography of the culture, perhaps more than any previous society, seems to be obsessed with sexuality. The end result is that the commodity is part of an increasingly eroticized world” (Jhally 253). As our world becomes progressively more sexualized and pockets are growing deeper and deeper, advertisers continue to capitalize on the best way to sell a product.
There is a deeper issue in our society that is important to understand in order to shape our culture and the way that both men and women are perceived and the way they interact in the world. Women comprehend the motives behind advertisers. The topic of gender has created a controversial topic, where the suppression of women has led them into a hypocritical mind frame: “Girls are put into a terrible double mind. They are supposed to repress their power, their anger, their exuberance and be simple “nice”, although they also eventually must compete with men in the business world and be successful. They must be overtly sexy and attractive but essentially passive and virginal” (Kilbourne 259). All advertisers do is mimic and exaggerate what society has imbedded in our culture. It is no wonder that when girls are constantly digesting advertisements that objectify women, they cannot be blamed for acting out what they have inadvertently learned by the supreme teacher: society: “Girls try to make sense of the contradictory expectations of themselves in a culture dominated by advertising. Advertising is one of the most potent messengers in a culture that can be toxic for girl’s self-esteem” (Kilbourne 259). Teenage girls digest what is constantly being thrown into their line of vision. Unfortunately, these images force girls to grow up with a sense that they must become these sexualized objects that advertisers force upon their minds.Resources:
Jhally, Sut. "Image Based Culture." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a Text Reader.
Kilbourne, Jean. "Image Based Culture." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a Text Reader.