Role Reversal: Perceptions of Men and Women in Advertising

Check out this eye-opening video put together by a Women and Gender Studies class at the University of Saskatchewan by Sarah Zelinski, Kayla Hatzel and Dylan Lambi-Raine.
They wanted to show how ridiculous media portrays gender roles and stereotypes in advertising through presenting gender roll reversals.

As depicted in the video, our parents went through their own generational stereotypes with women striving for perfection at home and men expecting it. At least that’s what the ads told us.

So, what if  my husband finds out I’m not buying the freshest coffee? Well, he can take his arse right on down to the store and buy something different. We are certainly a different kind of female than our mothers or grandmothers might have been portrayed.

But, do advertisers really think so?  Women may no longer be depicted as not being able to open a bottle of ketchup, but we are stereotyped as subordinate in a different way. A sexual way. Today advertisers want to sell products by sexualizing EVERYTHING. Both men and women. These ads are setting unreachable standards for everyone.  The men all have chiseled, tan bodies, and are hyper-masculine and aggressive. The women are all large breasted, skinny and submissive objects. There is no wonder why we have an epidemic of eating disorders, depression, and anxiety in this world. We are constantly subjected to these images in the media.

And why do the gender reversal ads look so ridiculous? Because media has trained our brains how women and men should look and act. We are programmed to expect things to look a certain way. And a man in a submissive position to a woman? Well, that just looks awkward to us.

As long as products continue to sell and magazines continue to be read, I don’t foresee many significant changes happening in the advertising world. Which makes Dove’s “Real Beauty” movement all the more commendable (see our past blog).

And when Abercrombie or American Apparel get media attention for their controversial ads? Well, it’s publicity, folks. No matter the form.

How do these ads make you feel?

  • Theresa

    Excellent video. We’ve become desensitized to these images of women in ads even as they’ve become more violent, submissive and just plain scary (unachievable body images/underweight/unhealthy). I’m concerned for young girls who watch music videos and idolize people such as Rihanna, Keisha and Nicki Minaj. It’s even more pervasive in the music industry where it’s combined with dark, Illuminati symbolism. The less I look at so-called beauty magazines and the less I watch TV, the happier I am with my body image. I’ve defined my own ideal and that is to be the best version of myself and to be healthy.Thank you for bringing attention to this, Patrick.

  • http://responsiblemarketing.com Patrick Byers

    Thanks, Theresa. As a father with a young daughter, I’m concerned about marketing, as well as society’s effects on her self image. It’s a tough time to be a kid.

  • Anna

    I really like the video but it’s a huge shame the men in the reversed ads aren’t buff and sexy, which would truly objectify them. Because they are ‘average’ bodies they look humourous rather than sexual, which again reinforces the idea that men aren’t ‘there to be looked at’ whereas women ‘are’. This idea that naked men are ‘comedy’, naked women ‘wank material’ only plays up to the male gaze, rather than presenting the female gaze as equally valid.