The representation of gender in advertisements in the olden days compared to modern days


Advertising has over the years been used as a powerful platform to gain more buyers for a certain product and is also effective in evaluating the competitiveness of a certain product in the market. This paper primarily compares and contrasts two images taken from both the modern and vintage adverts, and how these two adverts portray women over the years. The two adverts are present evidence to show the perception of the female sex has not changed over the years despite the feminine move that began some time back in the 19th Century in 1872. The female is still viewed as the weaker sex while the male still remains the domineering sex (Kosut, 2012). Men are entitled to roles, opportunities and rights that women never get to enjoy. Women are disregarded and only viewed as supporters of men. Therefore, women are portrayed to do some odd jobs and depend on men for most of their needs. They derive their comfort and joy from men. Analysis was done using the Critical Discourse Analysis and visual grammar, a Systemic Functional Linguistics-based approach. This is to critically address the differences and similarities between the two images from different ages in relation to the relative position of the feminine sex. It is, however, important to note that each gender has their unique duties and responsibilities that only each can handle and no gender can do everything independent of the other.
Advertising has over the years been used as a powerful platform to gain more buyers for a certain product and is also effective in evaluating the competitiveness of a certain product in the market. It is a tool employed by every business to enlarge its customers and hence realize much bigger revenue. Media has dominated the advertisement platform with many economic entities revolving to using media intensive advertisement strategies. Each advertisement is designed to appeal to a group of individuals who ought to be the prospective buyers. Media based platforms used as a tool for advertisements include; be it newspapers, radios, television or films. Each advertisement uses the form that will appeal more. Some advertisements that target females will be concentrated on the women’s magazine in order to capture a large audience. Using the two photographs provided in the appendix that shows two different advertisements over a certain time period, the report will easily view and analyze the representation of gender in advertisements in the olden days compared to modern days. These photographs indicate that despite the ages, the female sex still occupies the lower position with the male higher in hierarchy. Some of these advertisements, as a result, work in placing women in weak positions whereas each gender has a distinct role to play in the society. I will, therefore, present the data after which introduce the methodology of analysis that will be used to analyze the data. I will then present the results and explain my findings in the analysis section. Finally, I will evaluate the results from the analysis of each advert from the olden days and modern days and draw conclusions from the findings.
The first advertisement is a vintage advertisement on Hardees that is a food company dealing with preparing ready food and fast foods to suit people who, most often, are not in a position to prepare their own food or have someone prepare for them. Hardees is a fast growing food industry that in the past had been a real hit due to its first-class services and tasty meals in addition to the courteous waiters present. That photograph depicts a woman in the kitchen washing the dishes as she peeps at her husband enjoying with children. The woman seems to enjoy what the husband is doing but is not in a position to do it and instead just envies them as they play. The words on the photograph are really a proof of male chauvinism. The words are; “we all know a women’s place is in the home; cooking a man a delicious meal. But if you are still enjoying the bachelor’s life and don’t have a little miss waiting on you, then come down to Hardee’s for something sloppy and hastily prepared” This has diminished the woman to be in the kitchen and no better place. She cannot even have time to play with the children as the husband does, thus she eyes them by the kitchen sink. It indicates how the society perceives women and the relative position of the feminine sex in the marriage. The image portrays men as the stronger sex and a gender that dictates the allegiance of women. All that the men do is relax and wait to be served by women. They do not claim any role in the kitchen and so are not accustomed to kitchen roles.
The second advertisement used in the report analysis represents the present. It is an advertisement on kitchen cutlery. The photograph was taken in the kitchen to show how each item in the cutlery set is positioned in the kitchen. Standing next to them is a photograph of a woman standing close to the sink holding a fish slice in one hand and dressed in an apron. She seems to be very much at home as though that’s where she spends most of her time and is, therefore, comfortable there. This brings out an image that a woman’s permanent place is the kitchen, and that is where she ought to be; preparing food, serving and doing all manner of house chores. The images show that women do not argue and revolt in order to sustain a better position in the society. They are contented with the roles accustomed to them and they never see the sense in fighting for a better position. It portrays women as a weaker sex and stresses their role in the society. This is really alarming because over the years, the woman’s permanent place is still the kitchen and this is what most advertisements tend to bring out, despite the worldwide movement that was meant to elevate the status of the female society from the kitchen level to being a working class woman. This has, however, not been possible since this movement has met a lot of resistance from some of the male fraction that do not want to come to terms with the fact that the world is now changing. Men strongly believe that they are the stronger sex and they greatly disagree with the efforts set to equalize the two sexes.
Methods of data analysis
In data analysis, I will employ CDA approach as my fundamental tool. This approach is rich and diverse allowing the use o different theoretical models, research methods and agenda. (Fairclough et al, 2011). CDA looks at the context as a whole; that is in terms of the ideologies that come along with it together and the social context the data is placed in. It consists of a framework that is generally in three dimensions. The main objective is to map the three independent forms of analysis, which include analysis of spoken or written language, texts and analysis. The first dimension is textual whereby traditional and functional linguistics are employed. The second dimension is where discourse is used as a communicator of ideology using methods of genre and intersexuality. In the third dimension there is use of social and institutional relations and practices (Locke, 2014)


Basing on the above methods, it is possible to contextualize the photographs and their symbolical meaning. In the first photograph of Hardee’s, there is a picture of a woman leaning on the kitchen sink as she peeps over her husband and children playing as she is in the kitchen. Though Hardee’s is a food company, there is no evidence of any food anywhere to display what the company deals with. Instead a woman is used to bring out the message that they prepare good food at affordable price. The captions under the advert further go on to show how the woman is way below in her status because it states that a woman’s place is in the kitchen and no more. It is for that reason that she cannot enjoy playing with her children just like the father because her place is reserved in the kitchen. In this advert, the woman is depicted to be the servant in her home as she is the one to do all the house chores. It is, therefore, a woman’s responsibility to cook her family’s meal without objection, and this has been known all over as what is expected to be the case. That is why the woman is shabbily dressed and is not presentable to imply that she does no other job other than staying at home, taking care of the house and the family, and doing all other house chores. She is even deprived the joy a mother can get from sitting with her children and instead the father can take on that duty.
In the second photograph, a woman dressed in an apron is standing holding a fish slice in her hand. Owing to the fact that women’s place ought to be in the kitchen despite being in the modern society, the woman is still expected to be in the kitchen. That explains why she is standing by the kitchen sink while other cutleries are hung by the sink wall as an advert that a certain company produces. The woman has been used here in order to bring out that the kitchen is ‘a no-man’s place’ and instead belongs to a woman. The woman seems comfortable with the place, bearing in mind the amount of time she spends there is more than what she spends elsewhere thus she feels at home in the kitchen. It is so sad that the modern society can still view women as the housewife who ought to spend more time in the kitchen and as a result, watered down her ego and diminished her status in the society. She is, therefore, the best person to advertise for most of the kitchenware and food matters because they belong there and they ought to be housekeepers and the house servants.
Discussion and conclusion
In reference to the photographs and the analysis, it is important to note that different advertising companies use a certain language in order to entice buyers and at the same time pass some important messages. The language is critically evaluated and well structured in order to serve the indented purpose. It is, therefore, very important to consider the type of message one brings out in a certain advert. Using the CDA approach it is very possible to relate the images in an advertisement and analyze it using the steps above in order to come up with the advertisement’s message. This is because the visual display holds a lot of meaning. It is, however, unfortunate to note that despite the years, the female sex continues to suffer from the pain of being undermined and being looked on as the weaker sex. Women are still being identified with lesser positions in the society. They are portrayed as the weaker sex while their male counterparts are exalted and praised. This is sadly being supported by some of the advertisements who are passing on that message. Since the worldwide female movement that began in the 19th Century, the female gender has still not gained voice enough due to resistance from some individuals and organizations who still believe the woman ought to be no better than the housekeeper is and should, therefore, remain in the kitchen. It is, however, important to note that each gender has their unique duties and responsibilities that only each can handle and no gender can do everything independent of the other.
Women should be acknowledged in their own measure and be treated fairly without discrimination. This can further be enhanced by banning sexist advertisements that are meant to demean the woman and make the male to be the highest in the hierarchy. The society should develop policies that allow for gender equality. These policies should be set to embrace both women and men, and show the society that women can perform just as men do. Each individual can handle unique responsibilities in equal measure but with different capabilities. It is also positive to note that several countries have embraced different laws and policies meant to elevate the woman by giving them equal representation in political issues and even allowing them to vote after a long time. Many societies embrace policies that fight against gender inequality and encourage policies that do allow equal opportunities or both men and women. Women in such societies are highly regarded and allowed opportunities initially identified with men. They are also allowed to participate in income-generating projects in order to earn financial independence where they receive funding from the government. Another keystone is that females can now be allowed to take up political seats on level ground with the male. This is a major achievement and if more measures are put in place and adhered to, the female will be at par with the male counterpart.
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