Part 1 – Original Advertisement
(Image source: “http://cdn-wpmsa.defymedia.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2014/08/Nine-West-Sexist-Shoe-Ad-2.jpg”)
Part 2 – Analysis of the Original Advertisement (250 words)
This advertisement by Nine West depicts a woman wearing leopard print high heeled shoes, brandishing some arrows, alluding to the idea of hunting gear (for the mentioned type of ‘prey’) to include Nine West attire. There are two core issues with this advertising that problematizes it as heteronormative and sexist is in nature. Firstly, the caption “Husband hunting” indicates that the primary focus of a woman should be the acquisition of a spouse. This is not only problematic because it feeds into the stereotyping of domesticated female gender roles, but it also lacks an understanding that women, like all others, have other goals in mind besides their love life. For example, the advertisement could promote a woman who wants to develop her career, or travel, or work on her creative outlets. Even the attire seen in the advertisement indicates a business-like atmosphere, yet there is no mention of the woman as career-driven, or even as employed – she is merely indicated as on the prowl for a male spouse. The point is that the advertisement instead of indicating that the woman could have any man she wants should indicate she can have any future she wants, as shoes and way she chooses to look play a role in all aspects of her endeavors, not just ones relating to mating.
Secondly, the advertisement plays into a very heteronormative agenda, where only a female-male monogamous partnership is displayed. Words employed are ‘husband’ rather than ‘partner’, which could have created a more inclusive audience. Further, the advertisement displays it as the responsibility for the woman in a relationship with a man, to attract and deserve his attention through her appearance. The reliance upon her wardrobe choice is equated with her success in attracting a spouse. This is extremely sexist, as it works against not only egalitarian standards of gender divisions in romantic relationships, but it also perpetuates the domestic responsibilities of appearance stereotypically placed upon women.
Part 3 – Jammed Version of Advertisement
Part 4 – Explanation of Jammed Version (250 words)
The approach I took in culture jamming this image was to try and replace the intention and message behind the application and use of the shoes advertised, without changing the appearance and activity of the woman in the image. The ideology behind this approach supports that the utility of the objects she has, as well as the woman herself, should be applicable to whatever she chooses to pursue. The object should not be worn with the sexist intention advertised, nor should it carry latent uses within it. The woman in my image is still brandishing the arrows and wearing the leopard print shoes, except by changing the wording of her ‘prey’ to become ‘dream hunting’, the advertisement is refocused to enable the woman to envision possibilities she could pursue beyond her romantic life. In fact, it doesn’t even mention romance at all as it tries to avoid equating the need to appear attractive with the acquisition of a spouse.
Furthermore, the checklist which previously only included ways for the woman to make herself physically appealing towards a male figure now includes internalized characteristics she should have to be able to succeed in her endeavors such as confidence. Lastly, the words at the end of the last sentence have been changed from references to men she should be trying to acquire, towards open-ended possibilities she could be chasing. The idea of changing the language of the image, rather than the image itself, is to show that shoes, and consumeristic appearance overall, are essentially the icing on the cake – that the woman already has the ability to achieve whatever she desires. The shoes are just a bonus if she so chooses to use them in her pursuits, and even then, they are utliized for herself and the promotion of her own confidence, rather than appeasement or attraction of male figures.