Is that Really Necessary?
by username1 on September 27, 2016 - 3:10pm
In the valentine’s day advertisement for Natan Jewelry, two pictures are shown side by side. The first is a picture taken from a birds eye view, and shows a man holding a closed box while facing a female that has her legs crossed. The woman’s legs and the box are the main focus. In the second picture, shot from the same perspective as the first, shows the man holding the open box with a ring in it to the girl. The girl in turn spreads her legs open.
The advertisement for the jewelry company “Natan” is sexist and problematic in the way it presents the female-male relationship dynamic. The way in which the symbolism of a ring manages to “woo” the woman in the picture into opening her legs poses some serious questions about the way gender is defined in publicity. The first, most prevalent, gendered message being conveyed in this add is that women are susceptible to being seduced by men who make a grand romantic gesture that insinuates a commitment on the man’s behalf. The second gendered message being conveyed in this add is that a man can buy his way to a woman’s heart, and consequently her panties. This is directly shown in the advertisement when the man gives the woman an expensive gift and she reacts to it by opening her legs for him. However, the third gendered message is that men are presented as an exclusively sex-obsessed group whereas women are a love-seeking group who are easily manipulated to further the agenda of the sex-obsessed males. In the ad, this is best exemplified by the two genders each receiving what they are “obsessed” with, wether that be sex for the man by means of the proposal, or wether it be love for the woman by means of sex.
We should be concerned about the fact that women as a whole are presented as easily manipulable because this is what ultimately leads to men gaining false confidence. This false confidence means that men will not take “no” for an answer because they have been conditioned to believe that a woman does not actually mean “no”, she is just turning him down until he does something that makes him deserving of a “yes”, often leading to harassment and ultimately, rape. Furthermore, the way that the man buys the woman’s love and trust with the ring negatively influences women because it shows them that it is expected for them to give themselves to a man who spends on them, further encouraging and normalizing the concept of “gold diggers”. Finally, the biggest problem with this advertisement is that it reinforces the stereotypes that men are motivated by sex and that women want love for which they are willing to forego their values. In other words, if this ad were accurate, women searching for love would do just about anything to find it, and men would be there to exploit this “female” desire to satisfy their sex driven needs.
The problematic ways in which gender roles are presented stereotypically in this advertisement need to be corrected. A company such as Natan would surely argue that it was the best option for them at the time when they were picking which ad would see the light of day. It is true that one of the standards our society values above all else in an efficient and captivating advertisement is represented in this one, which “… inculcate in consumers the cultural assumption that that men are dominant and women are passive and subordinate.” (Cortese 59), however that is the exact issue in of itself. In other words, had it not been for advertisements such as this one, society would never have deemed male dominance and female sexuality as indicators of good publicity. Female objectification, hyper sexualization, and male dominance would not have been normalized, commonplace themes in today’s advertisements. Consequently, the only way to change the status quo is to establish a new status quo, one that presents women as equal to men, and eliminates their hyper sexualization. If it were up to me, I would present an un-sexist ad that wouldn’t affect the sales of Natan jewelry negatively by showing the man proposing to the woman in the first picture, and the woman wearing a wedding dress with the man wearing a tux in the second picture. That way the ad still manages to promote the quasi magical properties of their rings, all the while avoiding gendered stereotypes and sexist concepts. Indeed, it really is that easy to produce sexism-free advertisement.
Cortese, Anthony. “Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising.” Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising, Third Edition. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008. 57-89.