Women in Advertisements across Cultures: a brief literature review
It has been argued by Saad (2012) that there are no vast differences between highly developed and developing countries in terms of criticism associated with the nature of representation of women in media advertisings. However, the levels of frequency and intensity associated with these criticisms differ across counties depending on a range of factors such as religion, values, cultural specifications etc.
Generally, criticism associated with the nature of representation of women in media advertisements can be divided into the following three categories (Cortese, 2007, Abel et al., 2010, Biermann, 2011):
- Women being represented as less capable and less intelligent than men
- Women being represented as servants to men
- Women being represented as objects for sexual satisfaction
The role of religion on the nature of representation of women in media advertisements has been stressed by Ross and Byerly (2008). Specifically, it has been claimed by Ross and Byerly (2008) that in some religions such as Islam and Judaism indication to female intimate issues in public manner is strictly forbidden, and this would have direct implications on the nature of representation of women in media advertisements in relevant societies.
Frith and Mueller (2010) mention a large-scale gender-role stereotyping study conducted by Furnham and Mak (1999) that involved data collection from America, Australia, Denmark, France, UK, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Mexico and Portugal. This specific study has found that across a wide range of cultural settings in advertisements women are most often pictures within home settings, whereas men are pictured in advertisements in diverse settings.
Moreover, findings of the same study indicate that the images of women are mainly used to advertise home utilities and products, while images of men are used to advertise products and services that are distant from home.
Biermann, G. (2011) “Stereotypes Galore! Women’s Emancipation as Reflected in Advertising” GRIN Verlag
Cortese, A.J. (2007) “Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising” Rowman & Littlefield
Frith, K.T. & Mueller, B. (2010) “Advertising and societies: global issues” Peter Lang
Ross, K. & Byerly (2008) “Women and Media: International Perspectives” John Wiley & Sons
Saad, G. (2012) “The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption” Psychology Press