Friday, August 5, 2011

Gucci sends gendered submissive messages to sell handbags!

High end fashion lines such as Gucci, Prada, Dolce and Gabbana, and designers such as Louis Vuitton have set the standards for what is beautiful for the past few decades.  Why, because money is beautiful in the eyes of so many Americans, and who doesn't want to be young beautiful, famous and successful?  These fashion designers bombard our lives with highly sexualized advertisements each month dictating harmful gender identities through provocative and offensive images.  By examining Gucci's advertisements it is clear that Gucci lures both women and men into wanting their expensive material commodities with glamorous advertisements that suggest in order to "have it all",  women must be beautiful, thin and submissive to men, while men appear superior and dominant. 

Nearly every Gucci add shows women bowing down to the power of men.  Many of the images portray women in sexually submissive positions, looking strung out and powerless.  The eyes of the women are always looking away or closed, suggesting their submission to males, who perhaps are providing their ability to possess these material desires.  As Kilbourne states there is a restless pressure upon women that "we can be successful as long as we stay "feminine", (i.e., powerless enough not to be truly threading)."(263)  The gender image that Gucci portrays for women, is that of gentle femininity taken to extremes.  By wearing Gucci, women are made to feel that they have achieved the ultimate in success, beauty and luxury.  Our society feels a "particu  In theses ads, the Gucci women have reached the status that many women strive to achieve, however only through the objectification of their bodies in regards to men, are they able to achieve such prestige. 

Now, on the other hand, while these women seemly give up the control and function of their bodies, men appear level headed, alert and authoritative.  Gucci reinforces masculinity in their advertisements by illustrating men being rewarded for exhibiting Gucci attire.  A clump of women surround these men with lust and desire, as the object of male pleasure. As the line between reality and image begins to blur, our society begins to emulate these advertisements as an obtainable and commendable goal.  Jhally, strong advocate for media literacy, says its not surprising that these ads are so popular, "these conventions of gender display are so easily recognized by the audience that they figure so prominently in the image system." (253)  Gucci is furthering detrimental gender identities for both men and women.  The advertisements seemly do not even promote clothing but a gendered lifestyle of bored beautiful strung out women, and their powerful male counterparts who like to flaunt and degrade them.

Works Cited:

Jhally, Sut. "Chapter 25, Image-Based Culture." Gender, Race, and Class in the Media: a Text-reader. Ed. Gail Dines and Jean McMahon Humez. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 253. Print

Kilbourne, Jean. "Chapter 26, The More You Subtract The More You Add." Gender, Race, and Class in the Media: a Text-reader. Ed. Gail Dines and Jean McMahon Humez. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 263. Print

Collage Photographs:

gucci ads. Web. 4 Aug 2011.
 Web. 4 Aug 2011.
 Gucci Ads:Dead Women are in. Web. 4 Aug 2011
 Web. 4 Aug 2011
 Gucci. Web. 4 Aug 2011.
 Chic Spring. Web. 4 Aug 2011.
 Raquel Zimmerman. Web. 4 Aug 2011.
 Web. 4 Aug 2011
 Gucci S/S 2010. Web. 4 Aug 2011
 Fashion Trend. Web. 4 Aug 2011
 Sex in Ads. Web. 4 Aug 2011.
 Controversial Ads 2010. Web. 4 Aug.
 Picture 8. Web. 4 Aug 2011
 Gucci Spring/Summer 2010. Web. 4 Aug 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Gender Shopping: Boys want Nerf or Nothing!

While shopping either physically at a store, or via the internet, it would be hard to ignore the rash distinctions between what toys are marketed for boys and girls. While I was shopping for a six year old boy, Michael, I was reminded of all the toys he is supposed to like as a male in our society. The pink aisle next to the boy’s aisle is where toys are marketed to female consumers, but as seen through the eyes of a male, this aisle looks like it is comparative to death.  I saw a young boy walking past was keeping at least a fifteen foot buffer zone! I began to realize through this shopping experience that boy’s toy’s in particular gun products, promote and create generations of boys who idolize violence, warfare, and gender ideologies of overly masculine heteronormative men who are afraid of being labeled as anything less than macho.

Michael’s wish list included a Nerf Gun, and knowing little about these toys, I decided to look them up online before heading off to the store. Hasbro’s website bombarded me with loud men yelling, running and jumping and repeating, “it’s Nerf or nothing!” While this statement is a good marketing ploy to lure boys in to only want Nerf products, the men in this advertisement looked like they should have put down the Nerf product about ten years earlier. Set in an arena type setting, the men shown were as rugged, powerful, aggressive and violent, while women stand on the sidelines and cheer. Nerf is reinforcing gender stereotypes of males by providing older muscular male figures to promote their products, sending the message to boys that by using Nerf guns, this can be you!

While searching through the toy products, the placement of violent and male directed vocabulary are peppered throughout the toy’s descriptions, words such as: dominate, attack, blast, perfect, powerful, superiority, victory, weapon, firepower, win and fight. Now at six years old, Hasbro believes that a Nerf gun is an age level appropriate toy, lending to what David Neman said about gender and identity socialization, “how we learn to think, act and perceive ourselves as members of a particular group, [determines] how we incorporate those perceptions into our personal identity.”(Newman, 109) Males are being sold violence, and warfare as a part of their heteronormative gender socialization into our society. Even the packaging states, “it’s more than just a game”, fostering the idea that battles and combat should be taken seriously unless you want to lose. The social ramifications for a boy who doesn’t care about winning or losing would as Neman describes, categorize him as a sissy, “he is suspiciously soft and effeminate”. (Neman, 108) The Nerf gun does not market their products to reinforce a “sissy”, their young consumers are designed to be masculine and dominating, and if they are not, Hasbro hopes to convert any lingering males to the macho side.

The Nerf gun reproduces the hegemonic macho stereotype that males are supposed to desire. Each line of products produced by Nerf lends to the notion that bigger is better. Each new product that Hasbro introduces to their Nerf line, is more superior and supersized then the last, indicating that at all costs to be a male you must never lose, unless your masculinity will be challenged. We often tell our boys that it’s for the fun of the game, but as Michael Messner concluded, “Being out there and participating is certainly presented to boys as a good thing, but being better than the others is the key to acceptance and approval.” (Messner,129)

As for young Michael, I am positive that he saw a friend with a Nerf gun and simply wanted the toy just to play with. I’m sure Michael did not ask for the toy because he wants to start and army on his own, but with each toy and gender orientated product we sell to our boys, we are only furthering gender identities that promote poorly idealized messages to our society about how males and females should act. By exaggerating gender differences we create attitudes and behaviors that further emulate a society dominated by violent men and machismo attitudes. Homophobic tendencies are created out of boys who never grow culturally aware of the harmful marketing ploys created by such toys. Nerf toys have been around for generations, creating boys that simply are just learning from their social environment. I think I will opt on buying something in the educational section for Michael instead!

Work Cited

Messner, M. ”Boyhood, Organized Sports, And The Construction Of Masculinities.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 18.4 (1990): 416-44. Print

Newman, David M. “Chapter Four Learning Difference Families, Schools and Socialization.” Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality.
Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2006. Print.

Photo Credit:

Google.Photograph. Web. 28 July 2011.

Hasbro Nerf. Photograph. Web 28 July 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Louie's Masculinity Struggle

“Night Out” an episode from the television series Louie, identifies many different expectations of what it is to be a man in modern society.  The episode follows the hilarious Louis C.K. (known for his stand-up comedic performances), through his everyday life as he enters back into the world of dating through a much different lens, as the stereotypical out of touch father figure.  He is out of shape, timid, and seemingly unconfident.  Louie’s character represents how hegemonic ideals of patriarchy are expected of men, however when men do not meet such expectations, they are labeled as pathetic or ridiculed.

The episode starts with Louie’s date nervously revealing that she has children, her facial expressions reveal she is afraid of what Louie’s reaction may be.  Louie is relieved and almost excitedly tells his date, he as well as two daughters.  Immediately Louie’s date implies she is no longer interested in a man that has children, she remarks “its just too much for me to handle”.  This example portrays the idea of having children as only a gender role only acceptable for women and not men.  The notion of a man caring for his children in modern day society is seen as matronly, therefore alluding that already in the first five minutes of the episode Louie is definitely not defined as a typical patriarch. 

However, it is not only in the show Louie that demonstrates the idea that men are not supposed to be nurturing figures.  In the article “Patriarchy, The System”, the author Allan Johnson conveys that patriarchy is…”about defining women and men as opposites, about the “naturalness” of male aggression, competition, and dominance and of female caring, cooperation, and subordination. (Johnson,94)”  Louie demonstrates the complete opposite of the “normalized” man. His gender role is questioned as a single father when Louie cancels on the babysitter insisting he will just stay in with his girls, he is deemed as a “pathetic loser”.  The babysitter insists Louie must set a good example for his children and do what “normal” men like to do… “get drunk and get laid”.

When Louie enters the bar, he attempts to fit into the hegemonic ideals of a patriarchal society.   Author James Lull describes hegemony as an “inter-articulating, mutually reinforcing process of ideological influences.” (Lull, 62) Louie’s attempt to hit on a women in a very unenthused way, reiterates Louie’s submission to the hegemonic society in which masculine social ideologies imply that in order succeed as a man, one most dominate over women.  Although Louie’s un-patriarchal ways have little effect over women living in a highly patriarchal culture where even females lend into such a social status quo of gender relationships.

Over and over Louie is mocked for his awkwardness and failed attempts to show interest in the world of male strength and dominance.  Louie witnesses two black males come into the bar, when his friend replies in relation to Louie that he must be more like the black men who “know how to get laid”.  These men are ironically described as confident, black, handsome and not boring.   Louie seeks help from these men with much hesitation, hoping to seek the masculine satisfaction of “scoring women” he is expected to desire.

Louie has fallen into the ideologies of a modern patriarchal society in fear of being a socially abnormal man, or a called a “pathetic loser” for not wanting  to spend the night aggressively hunting down woman.  Right before Louie decides to leave the bar, he walks up to a younger woman who turns around screeches and runs off.  This allows Louie to realize another point author Johnson is making, that patriarchy  “has to do with us as individuals-how it shapes us and how we, in choosing to participate shape it.” (Johnson, 96) Louie’s masculinity has been diminished only on the basis of the social parameters other characters have outlined so clearly that it would be hard not to participate. 

Louie’s confidence towards himself promotes just how simply men fall victim to overt masculine identities and patriarchal values.  Our society has shaped so specific hegemonic gender roles, that any slight deviation from norm results in insults that questions one’s self worth and identity.  Louie is shown at the end of the episode smiling for the first time when he takes his daughters out for an early morning breakfast.  Louie’s character demonstrates how hard it is for a man to emerge from gender stereotypes without losing his masculinity.

-Kristi Patelunas

Works Cited-

3 Arts Entertainment. “Night Out” Louie. FX Network. 8 September 2010. Television.

Johnson, Allan G. “Patriarchy, The System An It, Not a He, a Them, or an Us.” The Gender Knot:Unraveling Our Patriachal Legacy. 1997. Print

Lull, James. "Hegemony." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a Text-reader. By Gail Dines and Jean McMahon. Humez. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage, 2003. Print.