CHAPTER
9
Advertising Gender

It seems that man has always seen the "sense" in advertising his goods. (from a teaching kit designed to introduce lower secondary-school, that is, juniorhigh-school, students to the topic of advertising, 1978)

Advertising is one of the most important areas of public life in which gender is displayed in images as well as in language. Every day goods change hands, both as commodities and ideas. As suggested in the teaching kit from which I just quoted, advertisers see advertising their goods as a way of making money. Although the use of "man" in this epigraph is, I believe, intended to be generic, it draws attention to the fact that men have controlled both the advertising industry and the process of manufacturing marketable products. In this world of manufacturing and advertising, women's bodies, and female sexuality in particular, become marketable commodities, even though advertisers exploit male bodies and male sexuality too. Marina Warner ( 1985) suggested that the reason why female bodies are chosen to convey such messages is that they are convincing. For years they have lured, delighted, and pleased. Thus, women's bodies confer the power to persuade (unlike women's talk, however, which does not). I noted in chapter 2 that until recently female voices were considered unsuitable for media broadcasting.

Advertising is indeed big business. In industrialized societies such as in the United States and western Europe people may be exposed to as many as 1,500 ads per day through television, radio, magazines, newspapers, and billboards. Although most of these display products the advertisers want

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