Cleaning Commercials: Grease, Grime of Occluded Gender/Sex Hegemony

By Bailey, Caleb | Media Report to Women, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Cleaning Commercials: Grease, Grime of Occluded Gender/Sex Hegemony


Bailey, Caleb, Media Report to Women


If an average television viewer was asked to investigate the source of masculine hegemony and problematic displays of women, they might not think to check their daily dose of cleaning commercials as a potential offender. Popular culture has many ways of reaching the average individual in this age of new media domination, but television and commercial messages remain dominant with a vast audience. Television programs, and increasingly, advertisements, are uploaded to streaming video sites such as YouTube, creating an echo-chamber effect of influence. Commercials represent a significant portion of television airtime, and carry both obvious and hidden messages concerning gender/sex roles. Gender prescriptive messages are found to be especially prevalent in cleaning and household product commercials (Sharrer, Kim, Lin, & Liu, 2006).

Among popular theories concerning media are Cultivation Theory (Gerbner & Gross, 1976) and Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977). By using a critical feminist lens, this paper will analyze occluded rhetoric embedded in these television commercials and the potential ability to perpetuate a patriarchal voice.

Rationale

It is well documented that women are targeted as the key demographic in household and cleaning advertisements. Mastín, Coe, Hamilton, and Tarr (2004) conducted a content analysis of two women's magazines (Essence and Ladies' Home Journal) from 1990-1999, and found that women are most frequently presented in ads related to beauty, fashion, cleaning, and children. This conflation of magazine reality with actual femininity creates a problem for the average reader of the magazine. Through conducting visual rhetorical analyses of iconic images, Hariman and Lucaites point out that "images in the public media display the public to itself (Hariman & Lucaites, p. 12, 2007). The average woman begins to compare herself to the ideal female portrayed in the magazine or cleaning commercial - a perfect mother, lover, woman, or wife (Storey, 2009). This, coupled with women's actual increase in the workforce, leads to a conundrum for women, spinning them in all directions only to find no solution in sight (United States Department of Labor, 2010).

Certainly women are not the only group to be portrayed in a stereotypical or less than desirable way. For the purposes of this paper, underrepresentations of differing ethnicities, sexualities, or abilities will be acknowledged but the focus will remain on gender/sex inequalities. Because of their intersecting social construction, gender and sex will be linked to demonstrate how societal impressions of these constructs are consistently related to the male and female body, reflecting the problematic binaries of gender and biological sex (Butler, 1990; DeFrancisco & Palczewski, 2007).

Media representation communicates more than just who consumers see on television as agents and protagonists. These crucial elements of visibility in mass media indicate overall group power (Harwood & Roy, 2008). It must also be acknowledged that while women are present in terms of numerical representations in advertisements, the quality of screen time differs from that of men (Ferrante, Haynes, & Kingsley, 1988). Women are displayed on television as less important to plot lines, they hold lower-prestige jobs, and they are overly sexualized and disproportionately depicted as young (Brannon, 2008).

According to Cultivation Theory, moderate to heavy users of television are sensitive to these media messages and may perceive them as reflecting reality (Gerbner & Gross, 1976). Individuals who watch more television have a reinforced, overly traditional opinion in regards to gender/sex roles (Kim & Lowry, 2005). Viewers continually see the modern woman as being a housewife and the "star" of cleaning commercials but women occupy the background of the plots of television shows and movies. These representations are certain to retain hegemonic messages that limit femininity and masculinity. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Cleaning Commercials: Grease, Grime of Occluded Gender/Sex Hegemony
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.