Men’s Men and Women’s Women
Men’s Men and Women’s Women -Steve Craig Medha Aravind Essay 2 355:101:02 Professor Zeuguin Large advertising agencies have evolved pseudo-scientific methods through experience, research and intuition that yield a demographic profile of the target audience, who are the most important predictors of purchasing behavior. Advertisers carefully craft their ads to appeal to male and female consumers, respectively. For example, advertisers use the daytime to reach women who work at home while prime time is used to reach women who commute to work daily and weekend sports periods are optimum time for advertising products and services aimed at men.
Steve Craig in “Men’s Men and Women’s Women”, claims that just as programming manipulates gender portrayals, commercials should manipulate too, to pleasure the target audience by associating the product with a pleasurable experience and that this depends on how the commercials portray men and women to themselves and the other sex.
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Steve Craig uses the example of an automobile commercial to show how men are portrayed to other men in advertisements. 29% of the commercials aired during weekend sports periods are for automobiles as men as seen as the primary decision makers for purchases from the automobile industry.
Commercials for automobiles usually involve camaraderie in all male or nearly all male groupings. This escapism and male camaraderie is an extension of the same that men enjoy when they watch weekend sports on television as it offers them a chance to escape from the growing ambiguity of masculinity in everyday life. Thus, the commercial reinforces male fantasies of clear masculinity and male domination. The presence of the single women in the ad serves to stop the confusion of any signs of homosexuality because the woman appears as an anonymous object of desire.
The men’s men therefore, have the unchallenged freedom of a fantasized masculinity, i. e to travel, to be free from commitment and to seek adventure. According to Craig, a beer commercial is a perfect example of how a woman is portrayed to a man. Men’s women are physically attractive, slim and usually young, white, blond and dressed in revealing clothes, who seldom challenge the primary masculine fantasy as they are always portrayed outside home and are only infrequently portrayed as wives.
They are generally portrayed as admirers who approve of some aspect of product use while, the men are portrayed as far too cool for conversation or commitment. The man’s face is never shown which allows the man to become a participant in the mystic fantasy. The physical pleasure of consuming alcohol is tied to that of the pleasurable fantasy of anonymous women lusting after the men, eager for sex without commitment. While avoiding portraying women as sex objects in a daytime or prime time commercial helps business, it is seldom found in commercials aired during weekend sports periods.
Unlike automobile and beer commercials that are targeted at the male audience, commercials like ‘The Weight Watchers’, show how women are portrayed to other women. A woman is portrayed with a desire to attain and maintain her physical attractiveness in order to maintain her family’s unity and security as she is always portrayed with a husband, small children and a house. Dieting is a difficult form of self-deprivation but the woman hates her overweight body. Therefore, the ad promises to alleviate the pain of dieting while relieving the anxiety of being overweight.
The use of the female voice in first person allows all women to identify with the woman on screen and these commercials are usually aired during daytime or prime time soap operas and are targeted at the female audience working from home or away from home. To explain how a man is portrayed to a woman, Steve Craig uses a deodorant commercial. The woman’s man is portrayed as good looking, sensitive, romantic and even appreciative of a woman. The commercial comes of as a 30-second romantic novel where the woman wants the man to initiate the love making even though she may be in control.
The man is strong, active and wealthy but also vulnerable which allows the woman to mother him at first. The woman’s body is the source of the man’s attraction and the only way a woman can negotiate the relationship is by maintaining her physical attractiveness. The product is the source that promises the fulfillment of the fantasy, i. e, the sexual fulfillment and the security of a caring relationship. The women are portrayed as intimates who have relationships that exist long after the commercial is over, raising the hopes of women and attracting the women to the said product.
Steve Craig thus concludes the essay by stating that, the images in an ad are designed to associate the product with feelings of pleasure stemming from fantasies and anxieties. The commercials undo the threat to the patriarchy as they are based on assumptions that the men and women continue behaving according to the rules of patriarchy. Commercials for women reinforce patriarchy while commercials for men reinforce masculinity under patriarchy. The only means to escape from the manipulation of the advertising companies is to understand the genders better and also to understand the role of mass culture in defining the genders.