The Gender Ads Project

Advertising, Education, Activism

Background: In many ads women are told that their bodies are their best assets. The messages told by advertising indicate that bodies can be commodified as products that have a use value. Ads within this category reflect the concepts of the Only the Body trope, namely, that a woman has only her body to offer. In this category, the concept is made more specific as women are told to use their bodies to get what they want. The Ads: Image 4 sends a very clear message. A woman may use her body to get her husband to buy them a trip. In ad 8, the idea is that the woman's body is a "weapon," again illustrating the reductionism of women and their bodies. Discussion Questions: (1) Why are women's bodies so commonly represented as tools or as devices that can be used to get something? (2) Do any male ads reflect this trope? (3) Have you heard the idea that women can get what they want through their bodies? In what social settings have you encountered this idea?