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Commodification of women Essay

Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience(viewers, readers, listeners)to take some action with respect to products, ideas or services. Most commonly the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common . Advertising messages are usually paid for by various sponsors and viewed via various traditional media ; including mass media such as newspapers, magazines, television commercial, radio advertisement, outdoor advertising or direct mail ,or new media such as website and text messages.

History of Advertising Going back in time Egyptians used papyrus to make sale messages and wall posters. Commercial messages and political campaign displays have been found in the ruins of Pompeii and ancient Arabia . Lost and found advertising on papyrus was common in ancient Rome . Wall or rock painting for commercial advertising is another manifestation of an ancient advertising form, which is present to this day in many parts of Asia, Africa and south America. The tradition of commercial wall painting can be traced back to Indian rock art painting that date back to 400 B. C.

History reveals that out of home advertising and bill boards are the oldest form of advertising . As education became an apparent need and reading ,as well as printing developed advertising expanded to include hand bills . In the 17 century advertising started to appear in weekly newspapers in England. These early print advertisements were used mainly to promote books and newspapers ,which became increasingly affordable with advances in the printing press, and medicines ,which were much sought after as several diseases ravaged in Europe As the economy expanded in the 18th century advertising grew along side .

During the next five decades it emerged as a strong industry. In 1840 Volney B. Palmer a calculating businessman established the roots of the modern day advertising agency in Philadelphia. In 1842 Palmer bought large amount of space in various newspapers at a concessional rate and then resold the space at higher rate to advertisers. At the turn of the century ,there were few career choices for women in business, however, advertising was one of few. Since women were responsible for most of the purchasing done in the household, advertisers and agencies recognized the value of women’s insight during the creative process.

In fact ,the first American advertising to use a sexual sell was created by a women –for a soap product. Although tame by today’s standard ,the advertisement featured a couple with a message “the skin you love to touch”In the 21st century , marketing through the internet has opened new frontiers for advertisers. A number of websites have been created exclusively for selling products and services e. g. Ebay. com, Flipkart. com, Shadi. com etc. Even the search engine Google has started a change in online advertising by emphasizing contextually relevant , unobtrusive ads intended to help ,rather than inundate ,users.

This has lead to plethora of similar efforts and an increasing trend of interactive advertising. How important has advertising become in our lives is clear from the fact that in 2010 , spending on advertising was estimated at more than 300 billion dollars in U. S and 700 billion U. S dollars worldwide Impact of Advertising Nowadays, advertising is omnipresent in our lives and has a really strong influence in our decisions as consumers. The aim is no longer to inform us of a new product and its use , it is more to create a desire and longing to possess it.

Moreover ,advertising has become a centre of attraction . Television shows are devoted to it, a Museum is dedicated to it in Paris and we discuss advertisement in our daily lives. It can make us laugh, it can shock us, which shows that advertising has a link with the customs and the codes which govern our society . For instance the Museum of advertising in Paris presents a retrospective about the Chinese advertising from the beginning of the 19th century to the present day to show the impact of governments on the advertising , the link between advertising and communist society and reflects the Chinese history

Women and Advertising: From the Feminist Social Perspective No issue related to women can be debated without reference to the feminist theory. Feminist social theory has been concerned with understanding fundamental inequalities between women and men and with analysis of male power over women. Its basic premise is that male derives from the social, economic, political arrangements specific to particular societies. Endorsing the view ,American feminist Catherine Mackinnon says: “men create the world from their point of view ,which then becomes the truth to be described .

This is male world”. Initially feminist theory based its study on “things” such as housework, inequalities or male violence but now it has to be more concernd with “words” and with issues of representation. One of theses issues which is much discussed is women and their role in sphere of Advertising . Going with Mc Kinnon ,it can be said that in this field ,till recently everything was created from the male point of view . The interest was focussed on women in a house, as a wife, mother, homemaker and well wisher.

This was image that would sell. From Marxist Social Perspective: The Marxist theory concentrates on the role of women in economic growth. Women are now capable of contributing towards the economy and share equal monetary responsibility. Hence in this paper ,women in advertising are represented in two ways: •Women as models to attract the consumers and sell the products and services •Women as consumer and target audience The advertising of the 20th century shows indeed the evolution of the women’s status.

Historians refer to this century as “the century of women and sexual revolution” because the situation of women and consequently the relations between men and women changed considerably in western societies. Women obtained a real political, economic and domestic power of decision. POTRAYAL OF WOMEN IN ADVERTISEMENT The end of 19th century saw many women going to work ,as workers in the factories ,as domestic or employees, so that the time for household task and cooking was reduced. Having less time restricts the possibilities for women; but having a professional situation means beginning a long process of liberation .

Work is money ,and money permits to buy the products ,not only the ones which are targeted to women ,but also other products . The 1920’s are the period of real evolution on the vision of women in advertising . Paris welcomes the poster realized by Leonetto Capiello for the “Delices” pasta ,which shows the first bare legged pin up of a beautiful women. Even though a liberated women had emerged in the 20 century but still until the 1950’s advertising gave the image of a passive women who was a housewife, a caring wife, a devoted mother and a symbol of beauty.

But she was still not very active in other areas. Maternal streak was fully exploited during this period. A mother keeping the house clean with “Dettol “ or cooking healthy food in “Dalda” ghee were representative advertisements of this period. A much discussed ad is of a “Baby Johnson Soap” that presents a chubby baby referring to family, childhood , happiness and other values directly linked to home. Similarly ‘Lux’ soap has always opted for celebrities whether its is Ava Gardner in Italy or Sharmila Tagore and current Katrina Kaif in India.

The sales of these mentioned products was much above expected The models used were women and the target was also obviously women –whether a housewife, mother or simply a women desiring to look beautiful. The advertisers were sharp enough to realize that a good study of the target can bring considerable profit even though these cases confirm that the most shared values are almost the ones that men consider as “feminine”. Another aspect of women is the housewife . Many products for cooking and cleaning are created keeping a housekeeper in mind.

They promise time saving devices, more free time to spend with family and healthy environment Progressive Women: A Change in Image The 1960’s witnesses a progressive unveiling of the body with the mini skirt. The stocking arrived as a liberator and the feminist movement was becoming popular. The advertisement for ‘ dim’ tights in U. S. A brought forth the concepts of a free women . The slogan highlighted was “in dim, you are free, you are beautiful”. From 1965 onwards the image of women changed. She asserted herself more and more and advertising presented a new independent women.

She was no longer limited to housekeeping and in children’s upbringing ,from now on she worked and gained her autonomy. This changed image was also fully exploited by manufactures. Many advertisements related to the ready to serve food hit the market. ’Maggie’ diversified its range and launched the Mousseline instant mashed potatoes and the “three crowns” ready to serve dishes . Washing machines were introduced along with ovens, food processors and vacuum cleaners because they went well with the image of a progressive women .

Instant coffee became a hit as did soup ,noodles and pasta. This was because the women of the 1980’s and 1990’s had emerged as “the wonder working women”. She was confident, reliable and independent but at the same time she had not forgotten or abandoned her traditional role of a mother ,wife and a daughter . The advertisement of ‘Lizol’ disinfectant portrays a lady doctor who wants her house clean with the said product and it makes her house germ free. Also noteworthy is another recent advertisement which features a busy boss ordering his Secretary not to permit anyone to enter.

Surprisingly she enters but only to remind the boss that being a diabetic he needs to eat every two hours ,leaves a packet of sugar free Nutralite oat biscuits ,says sorry and leaves. The point is that-when the wife is absent the task is to be performed by a Secretary ,again a women. Yet in the field of advertising the emphasis still is on the stereotyped image of women . She is an object of appeal to men, attracts by her body, skin etc. The list of advertisements pertaining to beauty products ,perfumes ,soaps ,lotions ,shampoo etc is endless.

Decorative models who are passive and non functional are used. Their primary activity is to adorn the product /service as a attractive stimulus. They are like mannequins with the least lifelike roles . ”She” is in an artificial world ,often obviously so in the way she stands in dummy poses. The way these hackneyed stereotypes are repeated reveals a kind of discrimination ,clear and easy to denounce but hard to end to. This archaistic stereotype of women is strong and stubborn ,and for sure the advertising does not really permit to make its vanish.

Indian advertising is to much dependent on the stereotyped image of women . Till now she is shown in the kitchen, running around her family, carrying grocery bags and then the husband giving her a “Moov” massage or she taking an advertised “Revital For Women” vitamin. The message clearly is “carry on with your duties but with the product suggested”. Similarly for cholesterol control products like cooking oil (Saffola) or oats, it is always a women who is concerned about her husbands blood pressure but rarely the other way around.

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