The average American will see around 37,000 advertisements on the television per year (Stankiewicz & Rosselli, 2008) alongside hundreds of thousands of advertisements they may come across while browsing the internet or even simply walking down the street. It’s safe to say that advertisements are the most prevalent form of media which most people around the world are exposed to; men and women, children and adults alike. Advertisements will brand products to make them seem desirable and normalized within society to the individuals viewing them, thus having a significant influence on how we think and our perspective on the world.
While browsing through the internet, I geared my search towards product advertisement where I came across this advertisement for Mariner watches, a men’s luxury watch company. The reason I focused my attention toward product advertisement is because it is the most common type of advertisement and several companies like Gucci, Axe, Nissan, Abercrombie & Fitch and even Mcdonald’s have often used hypersexualized ads containing women emphasizing the issue that companies think “sex sells”. There are several problems with this advertisement by Mariner watches for one of their luxury lines. In the advertisement, it can be seen that a man is forcefully putting a dark liquid, which is insinuated to be alcohol, down a woman’s throat with his hand pushing her throat and neck up. Although the ad is meant to showcase the watch, the product itself seems miniscule and not the center of attention in the advertisement; the center of attention seems to be the man overpowering the women sitting submissively in front of him.
One of the main issues this ad highlights is the portrayal of men being powerful and dominant over women, who are depicted to submit to men and are shown as physically and emotionally vulnerable. Another issue this advertisement exemplifies is how society is under the impression that sex sells and the evident objectification and hypersexualization of women in the media. Individuals exposed to these types of advertisements will associate beautiful women who have a certain “sex-appeal”, dominance, and power with the product being sold thus eliciting a positive reaction, especially in men.
These stereotypes are extremely harmful for both men and women. The hypersexualization of the female body in the media can cause feelings of anxiety towards appearance, eating disorders, lower self-esteem and depression (Gould & Swift, 2019) as females, especially young girls, who see these ads think that they need to act and look a certain way in order to be desirable for men. Females in such advertisements are seen as “pretty, not powerful; noted not respected.” (Gould & Swift, 2019). Men on the other hand relate to the advertisements by associating how their bodies are portrayed in relation to females and this ties aggression, dominance and power to their behavior towards females. Violence against women is an extremely important social issue as almost 1 in 3 women experience gender-based violence in their lifetime (Unicef, 2019). The constant portrayal of women as submissive sexual objects instead of independent human beings in the media increases this acceptance of violence against women.
This photo is my recreated, jammed version of the original advertisement. My goal was the emphasize the different issues highlighted by this ad and those that women face every day in the media. Instead of the man pouring alcohol down the woman’s throat, he is pouring a glass full of several words: abuse, domestic violence, rape culture, objectification, and sexualization. The word sexualization is cut short as it is illustrated to create the illusion that the word is going down the woman’s throat. This represents how women must “swallow” and deal with all the objectification, hypersexualization, and negative portrayal in media. The target demographic of the original advertisement is working class men who require a more sophisticated watch for their job and this ad depicts that it is okay to sexualize and objectify women because that’s what powerful men do, and powerful men will have women submit to them. The original advertisements can send one of two messages: 1. In order to be powerful, one must treat women forcefully or 2. Having power makes it okay for one to treat women as such. This advertisement also gives younger girls the impression that men are allowed to force themselves upon them and that the idea of violence against women and rape culture is okay, that they must “swallow” all of these negative and dangerous concepts.
It is alarming at how many of these advertisements that surround us in today’s society are similar to this advertisement by Mariner. A study done by Stankiewicz & Rosella (2008) sampled 1,988 advertisements founds in 58 popular American magazines and an astonishing 1 out of every 2 advertisements that were featured showed a woman being portrayed as a sexual object. To make matters even worse, when women appeared in men’s magazines, they were objectified 76% of the time (Stankiewicz & Rosella, 2008). With advertisements such as these, the media reinforces the notion that degrading women to be objects rather than people and violence against them as “normal” and this increases the acceptance of violence towards women. With this culture jam, I hope to bring awareness to the issue of sexualizing and dehumanizing the female body in media and that something must be done to help with the bigger issue surrounding gender-based violence.
“Gender-Based Violence (Violence Against Women and Girls).” World Bank, 25 Sept. 2019, www.worldbank.org/en/topic/socialdevelopment/brief/violence-against-women-and-girls.
Griner, David. “These Sexist Ads for Luxury Watches Sparked Anger and Apology, But Is the Brand Even Real?” Adweek, Adweek, 4 Mar. 2019, www.adweek.com/creativity/these-sexist-ads-for-luxury-watches-sparked-anger-and-apology-but-is-the-brand-even-real/.
Stankiewicz, Julie M., and Francine Rosselli. “Women as Sex Objects and Victims in Print Advertisements.” Sex Roles, vol. 58, no. 7-8, 2008, pp. 579–589., doi:10.1007/s11199-007-9359-1.
Swift, Jaimee, and Hannah Gould. “Not An Object: On Sexualization and Exploitation of Women and Girls.” UNICEF USA, 31 Jan. 2019, www.unicefusa.org/stories/not-object-sexualization-and-exploitation-women-and-girls/30366.