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Sexism in product advertising

We've come a long way in the struggle for equal rights and treatment for men and women. However, the media and advertisements reveal that there is still headway to be made. See the ads below for examples of how common gender roles and stereotypes are reinforced.

Fit Light Yogurt

The text at the bottom of this ad says, "Forget about it. Men's preference will never change. Fit Light Yogurt." Basically, this ad is saying that if you want to be with a man and/or have a relationship, women need to look good and be thin. Even though the woman in this ad looks happy and even fun-loving, the ad is saying that that's not good enough. This is clearly referring to the famous image of the thinner Marilyn Monroe. Can you imagine how it must feel if you are a fuller woman and you see this ad? How demeaning and superficial.

St. Pauli Girl Beer

This ad to me has some very strong ideas of what the role a woman should play in a family. The woman here is shown in physical contact with the children, displaying a more nurturing side to her while the male is in the back. Her white dress represents to me her innocence and femininity; of course the little girl is in a dress as well. American Living is a pretty expensive brand, so it's basically saying that the American family is white, well-to-do, and has two kids, a dog, and an American flag in the back of the truck.

"You never forget your first girl."

That's what the text at the bottom of this beer ad says. The ad directly compares women to an alcoholic beverage... and it refers to sexual conquest as well. It's not like it's talking about a man being with one girl, but it says "first girl," meaning that there likely have been others since. The woman is faceless in this ad, probably because the face doesn't really matter; however, the ad is sure to include the low cut of her short dress.

Virginia Slims

The text here says, "What you call gossip we call fact-finding." The creators of this ad believe that women don't talking about important things when they are together; while men might "fact-find" as scientists or other such workers, women smoke and chat about other people. This trivializes the woman's brain and accomplishments, making them seem inferior to men.

This ad above is one of the most disturbing... it looks like a gang rape! The attractive woman is pinned down in a suggestive pose while three other men look on. The woman is in a very vulnerable and powerless position compared to the men, but all that the company seems to care about is that everyone supposedly looks good. Men apparently like their women docile, and women should like it too.


How many commercials have you seen for household products in which men were using them? I always see women scrubbing the windows and bathrooms, cleaning the kitchen floors, or using detergent and bleach. Men usually don't know anything about cleaning or chores around the house. What does this say about men's responsibilities at home?

Additional Resources


ikmanlink001 on May 21, 2018: is the free classified advertising website of Ikman Link (PVT) Ltd. We are strongly involve in the segment of marketing/advertising campaigns for all enterprises and delivering desired ROI for each client engaging with us.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on December 04, 2014:

The greatest sensation in endorsing beauty products is a young lady who can advertise without the suggestion of selling sex. Zoella (real name Sue Sugg) is a west country girl with elfin qualities. Initially quite shy Zoella now has the confidence to promote lotions, potions, ungeants, accessories, you name it! I believe Zoella now has a cult following.

glassvisage (author) from Northern California on December 01, 2014:

Thank you all for your comments!

Scroll to Continue

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on December 01, 2014:

I recall an advertisement for hairspray where a young couple leaving a nightclub were attacked on the way to their car. The lady a ravishing blonde wearing a shimmering dress took immediate retaliation using her judo skills to despatch them all single handed while her beau looked on helpless. They waltzed away hand in hand leaving all the would be attackers sprawling on the roadway. Her platinum blonde hair still in place, not a thread of her dress torn and still balanced in her high heeled shoes.

Rohan Rinaldo Felix from Chennai, India on November 04, 2013:

There definitely is a lot of sexism in advertising. It's a problem that agencies must consciously address. I work in advertising myself.

hubber088 from Baltimore, MD on December 08, 2011:

The Dolce and Gabbana ad is especially disturbing. It definitely looks like a gang rape but with all parties having a good time. I can't even believe they are advertising their clothes through that message! It seems alright as long as everyone involved is good looking.

LoganMarin on December 26, 2010:

WHat are you women doing on your husbands computers?! GET BACK IN THAT KITCHEN

glassvisage (author) from Northern California on April 22, 2010:

It's true! I almost think it used to be worse in the past!

electricsky from North Georgia on April 22, 2010:

I have always heard there is no other way to sell a product but to get their attention with sex. People's attention pops up and they like to think they will also be sexy if they use the product.

It has been that way forever.

glassvisage (author) from Northern California on August 19, 2009:

Fair enough. I can agree that these are all interpretations... But I feel very strongly about them and that's why I made this Hub.

Dangazzm on August 19, 2009:

I don't want to portray the wrong point by using the word "fault" I apologize its just my vocabulary that cause that misinterpretation. What I meant was it being your interpretation and well lets face it.

We can all read a book and all get a different interpretation from it.

glassvisage (author) from Northern California on August 18, 2009:

Thanks everyone!

I disagree, Dang... For the yogurt ad, I don't think that it's implying that women should be skinnier for health reasons. I don't think it's someone's "fault" for being offended by their interpretation.

Dangazzm on August 06, 2009:

I personally do not see anything wrong with any of these,sure the dolce and Gabonna is a little disturbing. In an awkward kind of way, though all forms of fashion be a runway or modeling magazines which is the case I am assuming it is here has always never quite been understood by me.

Get fit and stay light, it's sure it's a health thing trying to get more Americans to be as healthy as possible. If you take it as sexism that's your fault.

I'm not even ago on any of the other ones because there was no valid point on any of them either. I apologize for coming down cut of harsh but it's the way I feel false alarm for no reason.

And in reply to the women in the advertisements that supposedly don't realize how much it affects others, some of the offers you 7 to 8 figures to do a quick post would you turn down. I don't think so I don't care for what it stands for abortion or anything, what would you do? Times are hard and anybody would do it.

Mina131 from United States on July 28, 2009:

Great hub...I just wish the women in these advertisements would realize how much it affects others. Disturbing.

Zach Thompson on June 08, 2009:

I see you have some high ranking hubs, can you teach me how to promote and develop hubs? Thanks! Please email me if you are interested.

dipless from Manchester on June 06, 2009:

A great hub, just proves sex sells, The advert really hits home about the fact the sexism and stereotyping are rife in adverts, however it works and even though it is wrong and should be discouraged, the practices will never stop until it stops working, and knowing human nature...especially male nature this won't happen any time soon.

A nice hub thanks for this :)

Guardian1 on May 26, 2009:

You have a great way of expressing yourself. I also really like the variety of ads you showed to get your point across. Very nice and very perceptive.

Barbara Yurkoski on May 22, 2009:

Excellent analysis of both outright and more subtle stereotyping and sexism.

Mary T. from Greater Cleveland on May 22, 2009:

These are great ads to illustrate sexism! Subliminal messaging in ads is very scary to think what marketers are puttung in our heads on a daily basis that we aren't even aware of. I've studied mass media and learned how images of death and sex are the two most common hidden images in ads. Check out the ice on the side of a Coke machine next time you're near one! You'll be shocked. Great hub!

glassvisage (author) from Northern California on May 21, 2009:

Thanks everyone! I'm impressed by the things the response that this Hub generated! James, I'm not sure how sarcastic you are, but just because something is a little true doesn't mean that it's not also a little true for the other gender, and thus should only be attributed to the one

Eaglekiwi from New Zealand on May 21, 2009:

And then they put bikini girl on the finale of American Idol , ahhhh

what the hells has new boobs or fake tan got to do with a singing talent show? keeps them in their seats I guess...

An otherwise brilliant nights entertainment!

ahoward0909 on May 21, 2009:

Very good article!

vijayrana on May 21, 2009:

hello dear how are youy

James A Watkins from Chicago on May 20, 2009:

That Dolce ad is sickening. But I like the American Living ad. Of course women are more nurturing. You didn't know that? I mean they birth babies, suckle babies—it's your Momma who nurtures you and loves you no matter what you do.

The fat girl needs to lose some weight—not for men—for her own health. You don't see old fat people.

And who doesn't know that women gossip? I have five sisters and they love the latest scuttlebutt. So what?

I know you are addressing stereotypes. Stereotypes have their origin in the truth. That is where they come from. They are exaggerated, simplified, over generalized truths.

Eaglekiwi from New Zealand on May 20, 2009:

Also since when was drinking beer ever sexy to woman?? someone with bigger and honest money needs adverts to conteract these glamourised alcohol adverts.

Nicolette Goff from British Columbia on May 20, 2009:

Wow - great hub. You've really hit the nail on the head. Sex sells? those ads weren't sexy, they were demeaning and reveal a certain contempt for women. Not to mention how men are depicted - sex crazed, dumb, and unfeeling.

e Liquid on May 19, 2009:

I'm so offended by the Fit Light Yogurt ad, I'll never be a customer. Do they have any clue who they're marketing to? Women are the primary consumers in households and yet men are the primary ad writers. Great Hub.

diamondrose1 from Australia on May 19, 2009:

I don't think they'll ever stop.

Eaglekiwi from New Zealand on May 19, 2009:

Wisdom in one so young is very refreshing ,keep it up !!! I actually quit buying a certain hamburger because of their sexual adverts ,obviously they were targeting young males hard sell and it disgusted me. I wonder if those marketing gurus relise mothers still hold the purse strings and if they dont work we have our ways lol<&... not like a chain letter lol

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on May 19, 2009:

Glassvisage, this is a great and disturbing hub. We just get used to looking at ads and you've pointed out things that should seem obvious. The other thing I hate in ads, movies, and TV shows is how fabulously beautiful everyone looks. Back in the 1950's, the shows may have been sexist, but some of the acotrs weren't so great looking, they resembled actual people.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on May 19, 2009:

nice picture and article

C.S.Alexis from NW Indiana on May 19, 2009:


Montana Farm Girl from Northwestern Montana on May 19, 2009:

Wow, that Dolce ad, very distrubing indeed!!!! Thanks for the wake up call!!! I will keep my eyes open during the commercials tonight as I watch American Idol and see if there are any subtle sexist undertones! EXCELLENT hub!! I hope EVERYONE reads it, as you have given us much to think about!!!!

ralph deeds on May 19, 2009:

Nice job, as usual, glassvisage!

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