Friday, August 5, 2011

How Gillette's razors are advertised based on gender

Gillette makes razors for men and women, but how they advertise for the two is very different. The marketing strategies are very gendered, as well as the razors themselves. The razors for men are made in only black, dark blue, and green colors; whereas, the women’s razors are pink, light blue, and pastel colors. The names are also gendered, such as the “Mach3 Turbo” and “M3 Power” for the men because “Turbo” and “Power” represent masculine terms. The razors marketed for females have names such as “Venus Devine” and “Daisy,” which are feminine terms. Even though Gillette is one company that makes razors, the razors are made and advertised differently based on gender. Advertisements for men’s razors portray ideas of masculinity and advertisements for women’s razors express femininity.

The razors for women are advertised based on the idea that women connect shaving with femininity. The advertisements show women with soft, delicate skin and their slogan is “reveal the goddess in you.” So, they are promoting the idea that if a woman shaves, she will be more feminine.  Also, Gillette provides the idea that having smooth legs will make a woman feel good. They claim that the razors will make the woman’s skin smooth and beautiful, and thus making the woman feel good.  However, the razors obviously can’t change women’s skin; the razors can make the legs smooth, but not “beautiful”.  In the article, “Image-Based Culture: Advertising & Popular Culture,” Jhally says, “the marketplace cannot directly offer the real thing, but it can offer visions of it connected with the purchase of the products” (251). This is what Gillette is trying to do by telling women the razors will make their skin beautiful.  The advertisements are based on the ideas of femininity, which include that women need to have soft and beautiful skin.

On the other hand, the men’s razors are advertised based on the ideas of masculinity. The newest razor, the Gillette Fushion is advertised throughout Shark Week on The Discovery Channel. The commercial shows two male scuba divers shaving underwater with fierce sharks swimming around them. In the article, “Advertising and the Construction of Violent White Masculinity: From Eminem to Clinque for Men,” Katz states,  “Because one function of the image system is to legitimate and reinforce existing power relations, representations that equate masculinity with the qualities of size, strength, and violence thus become more prevalent” (356). Gillette portrays this idea of masculinity by using a great white shark, which is the biggest, strongest and most violent animal in the ocean, in order to sell its razors to men. In conclusion, the advertisements for the men’s and women’s razors are specifically gendered and use ideas of masculinity and femininity in order to sell their product.

Works Cited:

Jhally, Sut. “Image-Based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture.”Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A 
Text-Reader. 2nd ed. Ed. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 2003. 249-57.

Katz, Jackson. "Advertising and the Construction of Violent White Masculinity: From Eminem to Clinique for Men." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a Text-reader. 2nd ed. Ed. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 349-58.

Images retrieved from:

Friday, July 29, 2011

The American girl doll's message

I used to think shopping for a 3 year old would be inexpensive. However, as I was shopping for my best friend’s daughter, I found out that it would be expensive to buy her daughter what she wanted. Her daughter, Jessica, is a 3 year old from a middle class family living in a predominately middle class town. She wants an American girl doll mostly because she saw other girls in her town playing with one. The problem is that her mother doesn’t want to buy one for her because it is too expensive; there are other dolls out there for cheaper. I decided to go online to see why the American girl doll is so expensive; I still haven’t found a reason. However, I did find some interesting images that the dolls portray. I specifically looked at the younger dolls aimed towards 3 year olds. The American girl doll is definitely targeted towards young girls and I found that the main messages sent by the dolls are that a young girl needs to be sophisticated, yet delicate, girls wear pink and/or dresses, and girls do look different from each other.  

I felt that the most predominant message was that girls should be sophisticated, yet delicate. For one thing, the American girl dolls are more expensive than most dolls or toys. They look like they are little sophisticated adults because the girls are wearing dresses or skirts, nice shoes, have neatly combed hair, some have fancy jewelry, and they are standing in an upright, poise position. The dolls also have very soft skin with soft facial features, so this gives them the delicate look. None of the dolls are in gym shorts and a t-shirt with mud all over their clothes and face; they are seen in clean, dressy clothes. So, they portray this properly-dressed, 
delicate girl that girls should aspire to look like also.

In “The more you subtract, the more you add,” article, Jean Kilbourne says, “One of the many double binds tormenting young women today is the need to be both sophisticated and accomplished, yet also delicate and child-like. Again, this applies mostly to middle to upper-class white women” (263). The American girl doll is portraying this exact idea that Kilbourne is saying young girls have to deal with. It portrays the idea that girls need to be delicate, but should be accomplished. But, usually the only way to become accomplished is to be tough in order to get what one wants. So, girls are given this contradiction that is hard to deal with, and the American girl doll is only encouraging this message.

I also noticed the “Bitty Baby,” which is aimed for the 3 year olds, is wearing all pink pajamas. Also, the “Bitty Twins,” comprising of a girl and boy, show the girl doll wearing a light blue dress with argyle print, argyle socks, and nice shoes. The boy is wearing a red sweater with argyle print, blue jeans, and red and white sneakers. Even though they both have the same argyle print, the coloring is obviously gendered. The type of clothing is also gendered. The message is that girls wear the color pink and dresses and boys wear the color red and jeans.  Playing with this doll can greatly influence the child’s idea of what it means to be a girl and what it means to be a boy.

Newman, talking about kids, says, “From an early age, they are ‘gender detectives’ searching for cues about gender, such as who should and shouldn’t engage in certain activities, who can play with whom, and why girls and boys differ” (113). So, having a doll showing that girls wear dresses and boys wear jeans is greatly misleading, especially for a 3 year old. The young child isn’t around a lot of other children yet and if she starts thinking that girls only wear dresses, she will be confused when she goes to school and sees a girl wearing jeans. The American girl doll definitely portrays the stereotypical gendered colors and clothing.

Even though the American girl doll sends potentially “bad” messages about a girl’s delicate image and gender roles, I think they do a good job portraying race. The company makes all different kinds of dolls with different skin tone, eye color, and hair color. Well, the dolls do look identical besides the skin color, eye color, and hair color, but they offer many different options to choose different combinations of different skin color, eye color, and hair color. This lets the little girl playing with these dolls understand that people come from different backgrounds so they may have different skin color. This is better than some other doll companies that only make white dolls.  This gives the young girls the message that not everyone looks the same.

Newman points out that, “According to some child development experts, racial identity doesn’t fully emerge until adolescence. But some research shows that children as young as three-no matter what their racial background-recognize skin color differences and hold a wide array of racial attitudes, assumptions, and behaviors (Van Ausdale & Feagin, 2001)” (117). This is important because a 3 year old playing with dolls is already aware of skin color differences, so if a girl only plays with white dolls, she might eventually be given the idea that “white” is more common. So, the American girl doll does a good job sending the message that there are many different skin colors, eye colors, and hair colors; not everyone looks the same.  

In conclusion, I decided to buy the “Bitty Twins” with the two girls of different race. I think this will help Jessica understand people have different skin color and different looks and I liked that the dresses are at least blue and not pink. I also told her mom to buy some non gendered toys, so this isn’t the only toy she will be getting a message from. Overall, the message gives the little girl the idea that girls should look and act delicate, but also sophisticated, girls wear dresses and like the color pink, and also people have different skin color, eye color and hair color. However, I think one doll will not greatly influence the young girl to still believe these things as she grows older. I think its “okay” to still play with the doll because there are many other influences 
out there that will send the girl other messages.

Works cited:

Kilbourne, Jean. “The More You Subtract, the More You Add: Cutting Girls Down to Size.” Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text- Reader. Eds. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication Inc., 2003. 249-257. Print.

Newman, David M. “Learning difference: Families, schools and socialization.” Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2007. 107-141. Print.

 American Girl. Web. 29 July 2011. 

Photograph. American Girl. Web. 29 July 2011. 

Photograph. American Girl. Web. 29 July 2011. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Exploring what it means to be female in Bones

Reality TV shows tend to portray stereotypical male and female roles. Reality TV sends the message that women are supposed to be thin and look beautiful in order to get a husband, which is supposed to be the woman’s goal in life, as portrayed on the Bachelor. However, the show Bones, a non-reality TV show, portrays a non-stereotypical female who is intelligent, hard-working, and self-aware.  The character Dr. Brennan in Bones goes against the female stereotype and demonstrates that there is more to being a woman than just looking good and trying to get a man; she shows that it pays to be smart.

In the “Pilot” episode of Bones, Dr. Brennan is instantly portrayed as a strong, smart woman. In the beginning of the episode, she is put in holding for assaulting a homeland security agent, who she thought was a random man following her, and because they found a human skull in her purse.  She calmly explains that she is Doctor Temperance Brennan and was doing research on genocide victims in Guatemala for 2 months. She also states that she is a forensic anthropologist at the Jeffersonian.  This beginning scene shows her as a strong woman for defending herself against an unknown man who seemed to be following her. When they put her in holding, she doesn’t whine or ask for someone else to talk for her, she takes care of everything herself. The viewer is now aware that she is a strong, independent and smart woman.

In the article “The Unreal World”, Jennifer Pozner says, “In this summer’s defanged revamp of The Stepford Wives, impossibly thin, impeccably dressed and intellectually vapid women exist for no other reason than to cater to their husbands’ every desire, delivering fresh-baked cookies and midday nookie with equal aplomb”(Pozner 96). This female stereotype is also shown in reality TV shows. Conversely, Dr. Brennan in the show Bones does not portray this stereotype and this is revealed within the first few minutes of the “Pilot” episode. She is not dressed sexy or intellectually vapid; on the contrary, she is very intelligent, as the viewer learns when she says that she is a forensic anthropologist.

Another example of how Dr. Brennan is an exception to the female stereotype is when she convinces Booth to allow her to work in the field. Booth really wants Dr. Brennan on his team because he knows of her potential and intelligence. He consistently calls her a “genius” throughout the episode. However, she will join his team only if she can have full participation in the murder case, including field work, even though scientists aren’t allowed to work in the field. She uses her power as the only forensic anthropologist in town to get what she wants. Booth accepts her offer and agrees to take this risk because he knows she is highly intelligent. Her intelligence gives her the power and more freedom to get what she wants.

In the article, “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf, Wolf is talking about reality TV and says it gives the message that, “when women aren’t embarrassingly stupid, they’re condemned for being smart” (Wolf 97). However, in Bones, Dr. Brennan is rewarded for being smart. She wants to work in the field on a murder case and because she is intelligent, her partner, Booth, allows her to work in the field. Dr. Brennan uses her intelligence, instead of looks, to get what she wants.

During another scene in the “Pilot” episode, Dr. Brennan stays up all night trying to put all the different fragmented bone pieces together to make the skull, so they can identify the victim. This shows her dedication to her work. She is trying to work extra hard to solve this case, in order to prove that she is able to work in the field. Her main goal is to do her job as thoroughly as possible so she can gain more prestige in the workplace.  

Also in Wolf’s article, Wolf states that, “thirty-three thousand American women told researchers they would rather lose ten to fifteen pounds than achieve any other goal”(Wolf 120). This is certainly not Dr. Brennan’s goal; her goal is to focus on work and prove to the higher positioned bosses that she is able to work in the field. Dr. Brennan does not make any references to her weight or physical appearance throughout the episode; she does not care if she loses ten pounds or not.

When Booth isn’t totally convinced that Brennan can work in the field, she goes to the shooting range to practice using a gun. When Booth walks in the room, she hits the bull’s-eye. Booth also tries and he doesn’t hit the bull’s-eye, so she thinks she should be allowed to help solve the murder by being in the field. She has evidence from the bones, which she thinks is more important than asking psychology questions to the victims; the evidence never lies. Booth agrees and allows to her to go in the field to help solve the case. Dr. Brennan, again, proves her self-worth by working hard, not by looking pretty.

In “The Unreal World,” Pozner says, “the genre teaches us that women categorically ‘are’ certain thing-for example, no matter their age, they’re ‘hot girls,’ not self-aware or intelligent adults” (Pozner 97). Bones definitely does not teach us this message. Dr. Brennan is certainly a self-aware and intelligent woman and is rewarded for being smart. She shows that it is important to work hard to get ahead in one’s career.

In conclusion, Dr. Brennan in the “Pilot” episode of Bones shows that women can be intelligent and have life-fulfilling careers. Women don’t always need to depend on a man for money and security, which is the idea portrayed in reality TV. Dr. Brennan shows that she gets what she wants and advances her career by being intelligent and working hard. She demonstrates that a woman can be strong, independent and smart; a woman is not necessarily thin, fashionable, intellectually vapid, or a husband-seeker.

Works Cited

"Pilot". Bones. Fox: Sept. 13, 2005. Television. 

Pozner, Jennifer L. ""The Unreal World." Ms. Magazine. Fall 2004: 96-99. Web.

Wolf, Naomi. “The Beauty Myth.” Female Beauty. 1991: 120-125. Print.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Link-Hunt Assignment

The elusive notion of gender equality in sports
June 13, 2011
Wendy Parker

Celebrities Care, too: Geena Davis Takes on Gender Inequality in the Media
May 19, 2010
Erika O.

Gender Inequality Begins At Home - Television Advertisements
January 21, 2010
username: sm

Gender equality through hip-hop
May 16, 2011
username: admin

Feminist TV Characters
April 27, 2011
Kate Gorien