Most of the advertisements are portraying men as a masculine and women as a feminine figure. For instance, advertising for powerful, big, and popular things like iron-rod, cement, and engineering works is represented by male in contrast beauty products like lotion, creams, and grocery product are often represented by female. Thus, in most cases men are seen in technological advertisement as a brand ambassador of expensive bike, smart phone, and laptop-computer. In contrast, women are often seen in sexuality advertisement, such as standing behind cars, holding balls in their bikinis. Additionally, they often found objectifying in the advertisement of cosmetic products and grocery products like fair and lovely, shampoo, oil, rice, milk, and noodles, which are considered feminine. Objectification, for Kant, involves the lowering of a person, a being with humanity, to the status of an object (http://plato.stanford.edu). In public sphere where media industry is run by male may be one of the reasons for patriarchy in advertisements. Hence, in this paper I am going to look at ‘is the print media objectifying women?’, ‘Can this be considered as enhancing or spreading patriarchy in the society?’, and ‘Are women objectified for male entertainments?’
What is masculinity ?
Masculinity refers to the social roles, behavior, and meaning prescribed for men in any given society at any one time. Socio-cultural norms and values define the men and women’s role in society and its structure. Categorical distribution helps to structure in the everyday life that shows in their behavior through performance. A brave, strong, and rational personality always known as masculinity in society and soft, caring, beauty, emotional character always remains femininity and sexuality. Through all the means of media like TV, magazine, papers, internet and film masculinity spreads all over the world as an ideology and it creates power. For example Army masculinity is produced by cinema which is copied by normal people, that’s how masculinity creates by institution as well as institution also creates masculinity hegemonically. Thus, to be masculinity you need to have strong body, rational idea, and many more.
Myths ideology can be core of masculinity though its effect shared all men and that myth expression explains their universality that helps to make it appear universal when in fact it is fabricated. As, if the images become widespread that established as culture, that can convert into myth. Which images are so widespread they are taken as universal that appear as mythological. Male superheroes considered mythological figures that no one can see and meet in reality but it shaped as culture. For instance, most of the children all over the world want to be like a super man and hero because their generation takes the images of superheroes as real and they see them as masculine.
Women as sexual object in the society
Sexuality has no one particular definition but it helps to men become dominance is sexual activity. Sexuality is socially constructed, it related to masculinity and power. Power creates hierarchy and hierarchy made women submission. Foucault (1981) claims that power creates knowledge and the power creates sexual politics over male through politics male creates the social form of what men as a gender want sexuality. Men are often seen as masculine in sexual activity. For instance, if men have sex with women then they do not hesitate to share their experience to other because they believe that to have sex in their life is to have masculine figure in their own. In contrast, women often hide their experience even if they are raped. Women’s sexuality is constructed against the dominant and powerful men. They being superior in sexuality and they have object relation; women always become sexual objects of those relations. Through the masculine power man can objectify women in everywhere even in media. They creates sexual object and dehumanized to women through different means of media.
Women are representation through advertisement in society
In 17th September 2013, at national daily ‘Kantipur’, it is an advertisement about a product of Samsung Company. Which used the slogan ‘Utsavko khusiyali Samsung Harsa badai ko saath’ pictured a beautiful white slim woman in her sleeveless blouse with red sari apparently enduring housewife; she is worshiping in the floor around the Samsung product. This advertisement shows that existing stereotypical categories that women as a domestic animal and she has to stay inside the domestic sphere by caring her family members and their properties.
A beautiful woman seated in one side of a beam balance showing her half-naked body and uncovered legs; she is exposing her body with the silver colored one-piece dress reflecting her boldness and another side equally weighted silver bricks. There is the slogan ‘Chadi kati? Afno wajan jati’. The woman in the picture is showing as object as silver, because it is comparing with silver. This is the description of an advertisement for Yamaha bike appeared in 20th September 2013 in national daily ‘Nagarik Dainik’. This advertisement is about Yamaha bike but the image of women does not give us any manifest meaning of bike.
In 17th September 2013, at national daily ‘The Himalayan Times’, it is an advertisement about a product of beauty cream “new pounds’ age miracle”. Which has used the slogan ‘Look up to10 years younger,See for yourself in 7 days’ pictured a beautiful white slim woman in her sleeveless T-shirt with beautiful smile; she is white and beauty women. This advertisement shows that existing stereotypical category of ‘beauty’ get by using that cream, even if you are Nepali women and if you use that cream then you can be same as like the girl in advertisement ‘beauty’, ‘soft skin’, ‘white’ ‘model’.
In 20th September 2013, again at national daily ‘The Kathmandu post’, it is an advertisement about a product of liqueur ‘Ruslan Vodka’. Which used the slogan ‘Ruslan Vodka, 100% pure vodka’ pictured a beautiful women holding a full glass of vodka with beautiful smile; her face looks like Nepali but she does not represent all Nepali women because she appear with full make up in the advertisement. This advertisement shows that the freedom of beautiful women who can drink alcohol in public place in manifest meaning. However, it is showing women’s ‘beautiful body’ in advertisement and its latent meaning could be the different. The meaning could be ‘if you go to bar and you can get beautiful lady to hang up’. All of these images reflect a recent trend in advertising to simultaneously sexualized, objectified, and represented pure women in Nepali society.
Media is one of the most important instruments, which men are using to suppressed women through different way. Media is helping to construct the idea that women as an object and women as a wife/mother in society. Such ideas are spreading through image and language of advertisement in the society. For instance, many objectifying images are found in advertisement in the different means of media even in mainstream newspapers. We often found that women are portraying main two different themes; first, they are emotional, caring they can only be the good house-wife and loving mother and second, they are beautiful, hot, and sexy which useful for sexual object. For instance, they are caring; they can be good wife/mother who always stayed at home by wearing sari and kurta with the veil. Moreover, beautiful women often representing as sexual objectification for male pleasure, they are producing through their dress up and facial expression in the images. The massage of the images says that women cannot be masculine as stronger men and they have to follow the social structure without questioning back to society and social norms and values.
A definition of Objectification might be: "portrayals of women in ways and contexts which suggest that women are objects to be looked at, even touched, or used, anonymous things or commodities perhaps to be purchased certainly not treated as full human beings with equal rights and its need (http://www.dailykos.com). Objectification of women is obviously common in mainstream media. We see it in advertising, in pin-ups, calendars, "girlie pictures;" in
movies, in news paper, in TV, in magazines, we see it everywhere. Half-naked
female bodies are displayed on walls, or in newspapers, in public places like
objects, exposed female bodies used as markers of male territory. Because
it is all too obvious and difficult to ignore, latent meaning derived to focus
on sexual objectification. The difference between the way women and men are
portrayed in media is severe, women are too often appear heavily Photo shopped
to fit into an ever-narrowing ideal of female beauty. It grabs people’s
attention, some people recognize that something is not right, and confidently
assert that this is sexism in action. For instance, a beautiful white woman lay
down her body in the floor, with showing the sexual expression on her
half-naked body and uncovered legs; she is exposing her body with the feminine
purple color background reflecting her boldness. The woman in the picture is
clearly showing her as sexually aroused, and there is the slogan ‘Elega, feel
the elegance’. This is the description of an advertisement for reliance paint
that appeared in 16th September 2013 in national daily ‘Kantipur
Dainik’. It did not give any meaning of paint seeing the images of
Women, as participants in objectification, respond to the centrality of objectified women in the public sphere. With media’s omnipresence, its images leap into our subconscious, playing off the brain’s processes of construction and categorization, affecting and influencing how we view and interact with the world. It is not just the media does but male pronouns dominate our speech and ideas in everyday conversation. Every strong things like; boats, cars, bikes, and ships always represent masculine as ‘male’ and this is considered that they are all objects and possessions of men as women. It is because society tells us that women are not subjects, because society has trained people to never look at life through the eyes of women by constructing cultural norms and values. Similarly, society tells that women are good mother and wife. Men provoked their voice through culture and everyday practice. For instance, when speaking out against violence against women, tell other men to imagine her as "somebody's wife, somebody's mother, somebody's daughter, or somebody's sister," it never occurring to them that maybe, just maybe, a woman is also "somebody".
Masculinity and sexuality is often relates to gender. Men remain masculine and women feminine. Social process and practice played the main role to make men masculine and women feminine. Through every day practice the various social processes became ideology in a society to make women oppressed. Moreover, heterosexual male often become superior and masculine then women. Social norms and values make them to believe is women are passive, powerless and another hand men’s are constructed as masculine, powerful, assertive, hetero-normative who can make women as sexual object.
Most of the advertisements are portraying women in two different themes that are feminine character as good mother and wife and sexual object. For instance, in manifest meaning, they are advertising the different product but in latent meaning, they are representation as wife and mother through images. Furthermore, images are powerful weapon that makes women inferior in the patriarchal society like
Nepal. This discourse interlinked
with sexuality and masculinity in the view of gender. Through the media advertisement,
patriarchy is spreading in the society. Through the social culture, process and
practice women follow the meaning of images so that people do not have to tell
everything because the power of images is as powerful as language. Images are
kind of a symbol that speaks everything without saying anything. Thus, the idea
which appears in the image of advertisement, women normalized and internalized
easily. Hence, through the imagery, society is (re)producing the meaning that
women are sexual object and also she can be good mother/wife.
(Note: this article is part of my final paper of Gender)