Global and Multi-National Advertising

By Basil G. Englis | Go to book overview

4
Advertising to the "Other" Culture: Women's Use of Language and Language's Use of Women

Barbara B. Stern. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Culture is male. . . . What it does mean (among other things) is that the society we live in like all other historical societies is a patriarchy. And patriarchies imagine or picture themselves from the male point of view. There is a female culture, but it is an underground, unofficial, minor culture, occupying a small corner of what we think of officially as possible human experience. Both men and women in our culture conceive the culture from a single point of view -- the male ( Russ 1972, p. 4).

Men and women occupy separate cultural spheres as well as separate biological ones. Cultural differences between the sexes occur in all known societies ( Gilly, 1988) and are made manifest in language, the shaper of human reality. Shulamith Firestone ( 1971) in The Dialectic of Sex argued that "the sex role system divides human experience; men and women live in these different halves of reality; and culture reflects this" (p. 165). Marketing and advertising researchers have studied several cultural domains in reference to women: stereotypes of women in advertising (see Courtney & Whipple, 1983; Gilly, 1988), feminine themes and values ( Marchand, 1985; McLuhan, 1951), and pictorial depictions of gender roles ( Goffman, 1979). The focus is ordinarily on visual images and depictions of typical characters, settings, and occupational roles. Most advertising studies rely on content analysis and count denotative elements in the visual imagery to assess depictions of women (see Ferguson, Kreshel, & Tinkhan, 1990, for review). Although some research efforts have incorporated more connota-

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