Sexist Advertisements: 2012's Best and Worst Attempts to Sell Stuff to Women

Advertisements are the best way to gauge a society’s views on everything from race and gender, to technology and fashion. Let’s take a look at women’s representation in advertisements — the best and worst.

Whether or not these are the absolute worst of women’s representation is absolutely debatable. However, I don’t think anyone can have a good conversation about women’s representation in ads without mentioning these examples.

1. Dr. Pepper 10, “It’s not for women.”

 

So apparently all women hate action movies. I resent this since Bad Boys, Taken and The Matrix are some of my favorite movies. But according to this commercial, all women want to watch are romantic comedies, prompting the guy in the commercial to say, “You can keep your romantic comedies and lady drinks. We’re good.”

 2. Bic for Her.


 

Okay, so you have probably heard some of the hoopla that this pen campaign has raised. But women have every right to be angry about what this says about women’s decisions — that they are all based on whether or not a product is pink. Not only that, but what’s wrong with the other pens that are being offered to her? I think we can all see what’s wrong with this picture.

3. Crest teeth whitening commercial “Whiten your teeth and get a husband.”


 

The reason the woman in the commercials wants to whiten her teeth is to get a man to notice her. Now the representation here is certainly not unique to this commercial or this product. Many products are marketed with the promise that a man will get a woman or a woman will get a man. The problem here is that finding a man to have children with seems to be the dominant motivator for our on-screen female consumers.

While it is important to call attention to things that aren’t being done right in advertisements, it’s also important to give credit where credit is due.

Here are some of the best representation of women and girls in advertising.

 

1. Dove’s beauty campaign ads for young girls.


 

This video says all that needs to be said. Kudos to Dove, for trying to repair the damage our culture is causing.

2. Kotex Ads.


 

Not only is this hilarious, but it points out how ridiculous tampon commercials usually are. Why is a woman’s period portrayed as happy go lucky time? I’m sure most women will admit that they have never been so happy about their period that they wanted to skip through flowers and dance.

3. Nike Just Do It “Female Athletes.”


Women are portrayed as strong and hard working in this ad, and they are valued for more than their cosmetic looks. Granted the women in this video are thin and cosmetically attractive, but the clear message is that the individuals featured are talented athletes who can sell you athletic gear — not just make-up or high heels. 

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Eboni Boykin

Eboni Boykin is an undergraduate at Columbia University, studying Religion and Gender Studies. She is interested in race and gender in the media.

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