Tom Bored (and fed up of gender inequality)
by BellaB on September 27, 2016 - 4:39pm
Look at this ad. And I mean really look at it.
Just by looking at this image, it is doubtful that the average consumer would correctly guess what it was selling. If he or she were to guess clothing, they would be wrong. This Tom Ford ad, dating back to the spring of 2008, is actually being used to sell eyewear. Though there isn’t much clothing in the ad to begin with, there is even less of a visibility for the glasses within it. In light of this realization, a very important question must be asked. What is really being sold here? Because it sure as hell seems like a whole lot more than a pair of glasses. In this case, and in the majority of other cases, “Advertising… sells values and cultural representations, such as success and sexuality.” (Cortese 57.)
This ad showcases both the success and sexuality aspects to reel in consumers. Firstly, the woman depicted in this ad is completely naked, serving as, and proving to be a mere sex object in comparison to her clothed, male counterpart. Furthermore, in ironing the man’s pants, she is assuming the role of a stereotypical, submissive woman. The gendered messages being conveyed here are that women are good for two things: their bodies, and for doing the work deemed unsuitable for a man. A man doing such work can only be considered a waste of his time and intellect. What this suggests then, is that men are destined for bigger and better things than women. They possess infinite opportunities, as well as societal support, when they feel ready to pursue success. Women on the other hand, should remain content and busy themselves with the work found in their own homes. This can be understood in simply comparing the actions of the male and the female in the ad. While the man is reading a newspaper, demonstrating his intelligence and connection to the workforce, the woman is contrived into demeaning, docile housework.
Where the trouble begins, is when the average heterosexual male and female put themselves in the shoes of their respective sex. When a young man sees this ad, he sees the glamorous lifestyle; he senses an allure of both power and dominance. He sees the luxury in having a beautiful woman do all his dirty work. This leads young men maturing in a media-filled world, to view women in a dehumanizing manner. Well argued by Jean Kilbourne: “Turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step towards justifying violence against that person.” (Newsom.) On the other hand, when a young woman sees this ad, she sees the lean, slender body of the model within it. This might explain why “[…] 65% of women and girls have an eating disorder.” (Newsom.) When a girl or a woman perceives the physical appearances of these models, they automatically feel the need to achieve this standard of beauty and “If they fail to obtain it, they are led to feel guilty and ashamed.” (Cortese 59.) In failing to actively point out what is so clearly wrong with these ads, people continue to be oblivious to the messages being both sent, and absorbed by our society. This, in turn allows for the normalization of gender norms and the self-objectification of women.
Given the opportunity, I would attempt to neutralize this ad in creating a sense of equality between both sexes. Firstly, I would clothe the woman. Secondly, I would remove the iron from her hands and replace it with a book or a computer. This would actively break the barrier of stereotyping women as domesticated beings, and allow her to demonstrate her intelligence and capabilities. Lastly, I would put a pair of glasses on the woman's face because, if I remember correctly, that’s what Tom Ford is trying to sell.
Cortese, Anthony. “Constructed bodies, Deconstructing ads: Sexism in Advertising.” 345-102-MQ Gendered World Views, edited by Sarah Waurechen, Eastman Systems, 2016, PP 9-25.
Klein, Alyssa Vingan. “TOM FORD’S 20 SEXIEST AD CAMPAIGNS OF ALL TIME.” http://fashionista.com/2014/08/tom-ford-sexiest-ad-campaigns, 2014, PP 14.