Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

I’ve had the tv on for a fair amount of time over the past few weeks, partly as background noise and partly to fill my time when I have been unable to do tasks I want to because of my injured shoulder.  In that time I have seen a large number of adverts, which is what I want to talk about today.

Does sexism still exist, especially in advertising?  From all of the adverts I have seen I am pretty sure that the answer is yes.  I’ve seen adverts for weight loss aids, healthy eating plans, skincare in the form of facial treatments to shower gels and moisturisers, haircare, clothing, shoes and accessories, these adverts have predominantly featured women and been aimed at women.

Advertising seems to be one market that, should an alien being watch, they may come to the conclusion that women are obsessed with their looks and not much else.  All of the women I know or have met, at any stage in their life, are a lot less superficial than the adverts will have you believe.  Women have hobbies and interests, some like to go running, camping, to gigs, motorbiking, gardening, others may be the main fixer of things, researcher, reader, gamer, so why do these kinds of advert still exist?

From my general experience, men have skincare concerns and may want to take better care of their skin (shaving aside), men shower and use shampoo, some even use conditioner, men may want to lose weight or eat more healthy, men buy clothes, shoes and accessories so why are we not seeing an equal amount of this kind of advert being targeted at men?

It’s no wonder that women feel under pressure to look a certain way, buy into the latest fashion fads and spend so much time in the bathroom either getting rid of hair or covering up the ones they do have with another colour.  And it is no surprise that so many women have body hangups when we see this kind of advertising day in day out.

Are we ever able to escape this nonsense without having to get rid of our televisions, avoid magazines and cancel our internet subscriptions?

If you have any thoughts on anything raised here, let me know in the comments!  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this!

I wrote a similar post a while ago about targeted advertising which you can read here.

16 thoughts on “Words on Wednesday

  1. Ah you’ve hit upon a subject which I think is really confused and in a way sinister. So on the one hand we have the body positive movement in advertising showing of their products with real women which is a good thing. But then if we look at fashion it’s stereotypically a model of some kind with a look / body that is more or less unachievable.

    Advertising to families shows typically that the woman runs the house totally and the man is just some after thought which is intellectually thick compared to the lady of the house.

    I kind of get why in a way this is happening as advertisers are telling a story. But I think the advertising industry is so conflicted about gender roles now and feminism seems to be about dragging men down rather than making men / women equal.

    This is not in every case, I’ve seen some quite nice well balanced adverts out there as well and hat off to them but sexism does exist and here’s a question – maybe we can’t get rid of it?

    1. Oh, I disagree. The feminism movement must sound scary. Women are now calling out men who have been doing inappropriate things to us, like cat calling in the streets, telling us to smile, and even sexual assault. I could see how this could be confused with putting men down, but I think of it as putting a stop to bad behavior that’s been persistent and pervasive in our society, including featuring women as objects and not a whole person. It’s got to go. We can do that by diversifying politics, companies, every public space in our society. We’ve got a long way to go but it can be done.

      1. Hi there Mae, I’ve been really struggling to work out how to answer your comment as this is a sensitive area for many. Firstly let me say I agree with eradicating the bad / inappropriate behaviours towards women in society and you’re right it’s gone on too long and I have seen it and confronted other men about it.

        Where I’m struggling is understanding what feminism is, to me and to other women and what this means for me.
        Firstly for me it seems I’m lumped into a general group that needs sorting just becasue of my biological makeup, which I know is generally what’s been happening to women but that’s my point.
        Next is understanding feminism, I can’t understand what it is this movement is trying to be as I don’t know what it is becasue there’s are so many opinions.
        Finally there are many women out there that think that the feminist movement has either gone too far or needs to shut up (their words not mine) becasue they see it as eroding what they see a way of life that they actually prefer. I’ve even had it said to me from one woman that when she was working back in the 70’s / 80’s she quite liked the male attention and saw no harm in it.

        I’m in no way disagreeing with your view – I’m simply saying that the whole thing to me in confused and far from clear and with no clear direction. If this truly is the case then society will struggle to go in the right direction. Basically I treat every person I meet and work with the same lever of respect I would give any human regardless of anything.

        I hope there’s nothing in there that offends you 🙂

      2. Hi Simon!
        I appreciate how much thought you put into this. It’s quite a broad subject and I completely agree that it can feel directionless and unorganized. Just Googling feminism brings up so many definitions of feminism– it’s overwhelming. I am not an expert in feminism by any means, but I have a few articles that I can send to you if you’re interested.

        There are some sects of feminism that believe women are better than men, but in my experience, that’s not the modern mainstream ideology. I think we get wrapped up in the “Radical Feminism” of the 60s and 70s which wasn’t inclusive. That left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. I can understand people not wanting society to change because they enjoy their lives and the attention from men. If someone consents to that attention, then by all means, have at it; however, underlying those beliefs is a population of women who have bought into the patriarchy and defend it tooth and nail. It couldn’t exist without buy-in from the majority.

        Thank you for sharing your views! I very much appreciate this conversation.

      3. The thing is that things will turn out the way they do and we really have little control over it. But we must always strive.

        I have appreciated this conversation as well. It’s disappointing when it comes up and there can be no conversation because of walls built up.

    2. Yeah, the advertising I have seen seems to want to keep women in this stereotypical image that we are fighting so hard against! It’s really annoying when we are trying to break free of those stereotypes! Xxx

      1. I think it depends on who the advertising message is directed at which can make a difference and the other thing is what is a typical woman’s needs and wants – to me that’s no easy answer 🙂

        But I agree these stereotypes are often pretty old and pretty wrong.

  2. I hardly ever watch TV and I have very little spending money…but I admit I can be easily influenced by advertising. Perfume adverts always grab my attention. I am drawn to anything that is ultra feminine. The moment an advert for a power washer or a car comes on I switch off.

    Everyone is different, but I do think advertisers still know that tailoring their advertising to those they think are going to be captivated by it…reaps a huge profit! I know there are some advertisers who are making an effort to be more and more diverse.

    1. I know what you mean! In one way I think that the advertisers are really clever by cashing in on that but in another way it’s like they are trying to keep women as the stereotypical image we are fighting against xxx

  3. Maybe the only ads that show women being active are the ones for menstrual products, in which everyone seems to be engaging in sports.

    I think sexism also shows up in the pricing of personal care products. Men’s shaving products are cheaper than women’s, and likely the only differences are very superficial, like colour or scent.

    1. Pricing is definitely sexist! And quality too! I found that a can of men’s lynx antiperspirant works better than the women’s versions and the can seems to last longer too! Not to mention the scent lasting all day! Xxx

  4. I think the first step we need to do is being in proper sizing for women, I can go into one shop and be a size 10, next shop a size 14, following shop a size 16.


    Then, I would start on razors, why is it women’s dont last as long and it has nothing to do with the fact men don’t shave enough, I use a man’s razor and it has lasted so much longer than any other “woman’s” razor I have ever have.

    Don’t even get me started on femine hygiene products and tax.

    I saw a newspaper article once that said something along the lines of, if every woman in the UK didn’t buy make up or the new fashion article, they could take down 6 industries at once. That has to scare the industries a lot.

    I also never see products aimed at men for wrinkles under their eyes, why do women need them then?

    For me personally its the inbuilt misogynistic society we live in, its inbuilt into women from a very young age, we need to do everything we can to look pretty and its inbuilt into men that women need to do everything possible to attract them.

    Screw that for a giggle.

    1. I’ve found that too with razors! Men’s are definitely better! And men’s antiperspirant seems to work more effectively, the can lasts longer and so does the scent when you compare it to women’s antiperspirant!

      Don’t even get me started on women’s clothing sizes! I’m an 18-20 in primark a 12 in Asda and Tesco and a steady 14 in new look! I’m sure I don’t gain or loose weight when I step into a shop! Xxx

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