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Archive for the ‘advertising’ Category

What do I hate most about Thanksgiving? Well, what I really hate most is the way people say “Happy Turkey Day” when millions of turkeys are killed just so Americans can overeat. But this isn’t a vegan blog; it’s a gender and culture blog, so I’m going to talk about the way Thanksgiving (and holidays in general) bring out traditional gender roles.

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By now, you’ve probably all seen this image of model Fillipa Hamilton:

Other bloggers and journalists have pointed out the unrealistic proportions of this woman (her jawline is wider than her waistline), and Ralph Lauren has admitted that their manipulation of the image went a bit too far.  The model, Filippa Hamilton, claims that she was fired for being overweight.  I don’t want to engage in the debate over whether she was, indeed, fired for being overweight.  Nor do I want to criticize this image even further.  Instead, I’d like to consider the possible consequences of the proliferation of intentionally-altered images like this and to ask you all to weigh in (no pun intended). (more…)

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Lady and the Amp

As part of the marketing strategy for its new “energy” drink, Amp, Pepsi has allowed an iPhone application called “Amp Up Before you Score” to hit the webosphere.  The app gives users (heterosexual men, one assumes) helpful information about any of 24 types of women in an effort to improve these lotharios’ chances of a successful pickup.  Each female stereotype is given a description and a corresponding set of menus that can expand to provide vital seduction facts.  The description for the “Sorority Girl,” for example, is “This shouldn’t be a problem.”  The app provides potential pickup lines, a key for identifying her Greek letters, a list of Spring Break tweets, and a menu entitled “What frat are you in?”  One assumes this is meant to provide ammunition for the potential suitor to support his fraudulent affiliation with a fraternity (because we all know that women in sororities only ever have sex with frat boys).

Here’s a Slate video report on the app:

Once word got out about this application, the public was outraged.  Pepsi set up a Twitter site to allow/encourage men to report on their success with the Amp Up app.  Complaints poured in, prompting Pepsi to issue a Twitter apology: “Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We apologize if it’s in bad taste & appreciate your feedback. #pepsifail.”  The problem, however, is that Pepsi has neither taken down the iPhone app nor the corresponding Twitter “bragging” thread.  I’m sorry, but Pepsi can’t have it both ways here. (more…)

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The new movie Whip It, about female roller derby, is set to release, and I’ve noticed that the phrase “tough yet feminine” tends to turn up a lot. Not as often, thankfully, as “Juno joins the derby” but still often enough that it made me wonder about the phrase.

In case you haven’t heard about the movie, here’s the trailer, which does not feature the phrase, focusing instead on empowerment and finding a place in the world.

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I had originally intended to write about this commercial, which reminded me a lot of the issues I raised in the fantasy football thread a couple of weeks ago.  But then I read Pamela Constable’s article on The Washington Post‘s web site about the disenfranchisement of women in the latest Afghan elections, and it left me with some very conflicted emotions: (more…)

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This morning, Dana of Mombian sent us this link to an article about a documentary called Orgasm, Inc., which details the pharmaceutical industry’s mission to profit from FSD (female sexual dysfunction).  While I applaud the author for deriding the notion that women who lack sexual desire should be characterized as “dysfunctional,” I think this article (and others on the topic) miss the underlying assumption that makes the FSD phenomenon so troubling. (more…)

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I thought I’d collect up a few cultural oddities you may or may not have heard.

1. Howard K Stern is suing Rita Cosby for defamation, based on her portrait of him in her book about Anna Nicole Smith. Recently, however, a judge ruled that while the defamation suit could go ahead, it could not include the claim that Stern was gay, because calling someone gay is no longer automatically defamatory, although prejudice still exists. “”I respectfully disagree that the existence of this continued prejudice leads to the conclusion that there is a widespread view of gays and lesbians as contemptible and disgraceful.”

Slate published an excellent article on this point: “Queer Eye for the Libel Guy” I’m certainly pleased to see this step–maybe next we can wipe out the definition of “gay” as “stupid” that grade school boys are so used to using.

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I have a confession to make.  I love games.  Board games, card games, video games, puzzles–you name it, I’ve probably at least tried to play it.  And August is the time when a game lover’s attention turns toward fantasy football.  That’s why I made an impulse buy at the supermarket today: a fantasy football preview magazine.  In years past, I’ve noticed the flagrant use of women’s bodies to sell fantasy football products to men, but this year I think I’ve finally realized why this kind of objectification bothers me so much. (more…)

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The newest line of attack in abstinence education is…sex! Check out this tank top.Where to even begin? Well, as the blog Sociological Images points out, there are no male versions–the “you” is always male and the female is always the one responsible for control. And of course, there’s no mention of birth control as an option. But really there are two intertwined points about this really caught my attention–today, everything is for sale and sex is the default method of selling everything.

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While I was away last week, I hardly had any contact with media (aside from a short daily web check-in) or pop culture.  The first time I turned on the television after coming home, I saw this commercial:

I’m fascinated by this ad because it so overtly demonstrates the ways in which gender is performance. (more…)

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