Modern world has seen masculine roles in media been profoundly changed in the last decades. The way the females and males are shown in the advertisements is as if they belonged to different species other than different genders of a species (Jhally, 2012). Masculinity is shaped and defined by the advertisers and IP managers, and is reflects everything that is not feminine. Masculinity denies pleasure of a person’s appearance (narcissism), pleasure of being seen (exhibitionism), intimacy in male friendship and female friends and others.
The Codes of Gender looks at the claim of Goffman that the ideals in gender are formed due to cultural performance, which is ritualized. This uncovers a pattern of feminine and masculine poses and displays. It sees beyond advertising as a method of selling products and further beyond the gender analyses that look at the biological difference and beauty to provide a clear view of the identity (The codes of Gender, 2010). Jhally (2012), also explains that, unlike the biological determinants and sex aspects, there is nothing natural about identity in genders or even their roles. The roles are actually constructed, taught and assigned by the culture, in which a person has been born. Person’s body postures, walking styles, emotional aspects, sense of what is appropriate and normal for any gender are all managed by rules, codes, and conventions that are hand wired in our culture. These codes are invisible to us, but if one looks keenly at the advertisements, they are clear.
The paper will look at how body posture, walking style and emotional aspects are used in the portrayal of masculinity and femininity in advertising.
Emotional aspects. Jhally (2012) mentions that gender roles are deeper than blatant display of sexism in advertisement. For example, women’s hands are shown to be soft and caressing unlike those of men. They are displayed holding things lightly with fingertips only and cradling items. This gives the viewer a sense that the person in the commercial is in control of her environment (Jhally, 2012). Women are acting in a way to indicate their fragility. Men, on the other hand, are depicted as strong and controlling. Their hands are to grab an object showing that they are strong and assertive. They do not touch themselves, and in case they do, it is very rare.
The body language or posture is also applied in women especially when the female models lay down (Jhally, 2012). This demonstrates passive powerlessness. The pose becomes sexualized by showing that an encounter of sex is almost to happen. Women rarely stand, they are always seen to be bending the knees as an implication that they are not grounded. Women will always be holding the foot or heel showing that they are not teetering. This leaves the viewers with a sense of defenselessness and vulnerability.
Walking styles. Walking style also talks a lot about the person presented as a model in advertising. They will always have a tilted head while walking that is an indication of defenselessness. The tilting of the head symbolizes interest in someone. Women will be shown lifting their head exposing a vulnerable part of the body - the neck (Jhally, 2012). They are also represented as being unaware of their surroundings. A woman is presented being nervous and is often depicted biting a lip. They are always shown to be sexually available. The industry of advertisement exaggerates the difference between females and males. This is the reason as to why males are shown to be a complete opposite of females.
There is a lot of focus on the man’s muscles. Activity and muscles usually go together. Male models will have strong and powerful bodies. Male models are always staring at the camera, the head is slightly tilted, hands in the pockets, and if not they are folded on the chest. This is a demonstration of confidence, strength and being at ease. Men are not seen lying down, and if seen, it is in bed and of course with a female.
Without our knowledge, these advertisements affect our lives and even the society at large. Whatever we obtain from the advertisement is subconscious. We look at the adverts and think that what we see is what is supposed to be the case. Most people tend to compare their lives with what they see. This brings problems as people strive to live like “them.” (Kilbourne, 2012). For example, many girls tend to vomit so as to slim (Erica, 1999). They usually admire women with slim bodies in the advertisements. This has a negative effect in the eating habits of young girls.