In this essay, I am going to critically analyze the women stereotype and how the historical women stereotypes had made an impact on advertisement industry and the rhetoric of the image. Also how these themes are related to each other.
From the historical aspect of physical women femininity, women should behave submissive and passive. In order for a female to be passive, they should look away with a downcast angle from the spectator, the audience or cameraman which coded as voyeurism. Cartright & Sturken (2009), stated that “Voyeurism is the pleasure one takes in looking while not being seen looking.”
In figure 1. “Advertisement: Pepsi. (2011, Apr 01)”, shows a feminine woman model, Sofia Vergara, promoting the product of franchise Diet Pepsi. The whole concept shows the femininity of woman by the smooth and soft skin as well as the used of bright red lipstick. Belova (n.d.) stated that “Red is the most powerful of all colours in Indian culture and holds many important meanings. Among them are fear and fire, wealth and power, purity, fertility, seduction, love, and beauty.” But in this advertisement, red symbolises beauty as the targeted audience for this advertisement is female. Not to mention, the way how the model dress is considered as femininity dressing style as she is wearing a big floppy hat which male don’t at also the blue bikini. The position the way she is, are looking away from the audience which is considered as an example of voyeurism because she did enjoy the feelings being watched by the audience without knowing herself being seen from the perspective of how she exposed her shoulder and the angle of how she posed. Also, from how she exposed herself by wearing the bikini, indicates that she is confident in her body. From the product of what the advertisement trying to sell is somehow feminist as the word diet and the word “skinny” in the slogan.
The next painting, Figure 2. “La Grande Odalisque”, is another good example of a feminine woman model as it the way the position is being passive and enjoying looking at by her male audience. This painting became one of a female icon that expresses the beauty of nude odalisque, or the naked harem women. The position of this female model is different from the advertisement as Sofia Vergara is looking away from her audience but in this painting, she seemingly peeks over her shoulder back to the audience. Cartright & Sturken (2009), “In a typical depiction of a female nude, a woman is posed so that her body is on display for the viewer’s easy appreciation.” The story behind this painting is actually considered as sexual and erotic as the female model, odalisque is actually offering her own body to the sultan, by giving him a slight preview of her own nude body. In that case, the odalisque is being submissive by looking into the spectator, the sultan with a downcast angle which transmitting a signal to the sultan to dominate her.
This Gucci perfume advertisement is shown in figure 3, Gucci Guilty 2010, shows both man and woman hold in their arms with the growing body whilst the man looking into her with lust. The man in that poster shows masculinity, where what a man supposed to be, and how he dominates his partner. Oppositely, the woman is enjoying being dominated whereby this is coded as passive which is considered as femininity of a woman. Kachel, Steffe & Niedich (2016) quoted that “Gender stereotype theory suggests that men are generally perceived as more masculine than women, whereas women are generally perceived as more feminine than men”. Also, in the advertisement shows that she is embraced by her partner but she gazes away from him. In that case, the man is the gaze since he is embracing her while she is being dominated by him.
Furthermore, certain object that painter would include, example, like mirror can be used to express women femininity in the painting. “Mirrors were used by painters such as Titian to offer another planes within a painting that could be seen by stationary spectator. The mirror is also a code for femininity”. From figure 4, The Rokeby Venus, shows Venus looking herself into the mirror that held by a cupid. In that painting Venus is considered as narcissistic as she enjoyed looking herself into the mirror. Moreover, it is obvious that Venus is able to see the reflection of the viewer from the mirror. The whole concept of the painting involves the act of looking as well as being looked at.