Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cosmetics for men? Blasphemy!

Kirkham and Weller - "Cosmetics: A Clinique Study Case" (Pages 268-273 of Gender, Race, & Class in Media)

- Companies like Clinique are helping to break down gender barriers by offering formerly "feminine" products to men but they are also reinforcing gender stereotypes by using very gendered and stereotypical advertising for these products (Page 273).
- Color plays a large role in distinguishing between male and female products: male advertisements and products in general tend to be striking, black, white, gray, or very muted shades of blue or tan, while advertisements and products for women are pastel, creamy, and soft looking (Page 269).
- It is not just the language of the advertising industry that distinguishes between masculine and feminine but also the way this language is presented: when looking at a men's advertisement or product you are much more likely to see more information and short, sturdy and dark looking letters, as opposed to the totally devoid of info and scrawly and loose writing in a female ad (Page 272).
- Clinique is very careful to separate men's and women's products by naming them differently and by adding things like "skin supplies for men" to the spot underneath the Clinique name, a comparative addition of which cannot be found on any feminine product (Page 272).
- Not Stated: The authors never expressly say what they want, but since the piece is written to raise awareness of the problem, it is implied that the authors hope this differing treatment of men and women in the beauty product and advertising world will eventually end.
-Not Stated: Again, the authors seem to currently see raising awareness as the best first step to getting rid of the problem.

We need to work on that whole "Be about peace" idea...

Katz - "Advertising and the Construction of Violent White Masculinity: From Eminen to Clinique for Men" (Pages 349-358 of Gender, Race, & Class in Media)

- Violence is a pervasive aspect of western society, and recent study has raised attention to how much mass media and advertising help produce, reproduce, and legitimate this violent behavior, especially that perpetuated by men (Page 349).
- Masculinity is like whiteness in the fact that those who are part of it are blind to the privilege of it and all those outside of it are seen as "others" or different and therefore more ok to discriminate against (Page 350).
- Violence in the media has a strong pull for middle class men because it gives them an area in which to validate themselves and assert their power, since they are unable to do so in an economic or work oriented field (Page 351).
- There are several common themes in male advertising that helps reaffirm the idea of male dominance:
1. The idea of the angry, white, working-class male as an antiauthority rebel (ex: Eminem)
2. The idea that violence is genetically programmed male behavior
3. The use of military and sports symbolism to enhance the masculine identification and appeal of products
4. The association of muscularity with ideal masculinity
5. The equation of heroic masculinity with violent masculinity
(Page 352-357)
- The author hopes to develop a more sophisticated and thorough approach to understand cultural constructions of masculinity, much like the one feminists have established to explain feminine constructions (Page 357).
- The author says that it is important to study the construction of masculinity in mainstream magazine ads like he does, but at the same time we must look to the way these same ideals are constructed by things like comic books, toys, the sports culture, pro wrestling, comedy, video games, porn, and music videos to get a full picture and to hopefully then use this knowledge to start more effective anti-violence campaigns (Page 358).