About BMC 277: Media and Diversity

This course asks students to critically examine the role of the media in facilitating and challenging the social constructions of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation in U.S. culture.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Woman as Object: A Textual Analysis of Che Magazine

Ryan R. Radke

In advertising it is common to use women in order to sell stuff to men. From television, to magazines, to billboards, women are routinely degraded in order to make the sale to a man. Upon further examination, it becomes clear this “good advertising” though perhaps effective, is seriously problematic. One particularly outrageous ad comes from Che men’s magazine out of Belgium. The ad can easily be found using a simple internet search. In this ad, a young woman is lying on a bed in her underwear, with a Play Station game controller coming out of her belly button. This ad obviously presents a number of issues that is upsetting to both men and women.

Che magazine is a men’s magazine, that is similar to GQ magazine here in the U.S. It’s a magazine for men that discuses “men’s issues”. The target market for this magazine then is obviously young adult men, in the 18 to 35 range. The image is of a very beautiful looking girl wearing her underwear and lying on a bed seductively. Further more she has a game controller coming out of a belly button, as if she is a game to be played. This is the perfect ad for a 18-35 male audience, which is why it was chosen.

In this ad the woman is passive; she is lying on the bed. Further-more, in this ad, as in many ads depicting women, body parts are bent, punctuating her submissive role, one that is meant to simply please a dominant male. In this particular ad, the woman is lying on the bed, and her legs are bent, with her head cocked coyly as if she is waiting for a man (the reader). She is powerless; when she lies in wait, and her existence is meant only for another’s (male) pleasure. This is a common theme across many advertisements involving women that you do not see involving men. This type of advertising is bad for the portrayal of women because it shows them as objects instead of people, which can have serious cultural effects and may give people the wrong idea about women and their role in society.

In this advertisement the woman isn’t simply selling the game, she is the game. She is lying on the bed waiting to be played. She thus ceases to be human, but is turned into an object to be manipulated and used by the (male) reader/game player. She, like a game, can be turned on and off, her only role as being in service for the (male) reader.

Another interesting thing to note in this image is the text that reads “better world”. What does this imply? Does this imply that in a better world women live only to serve men? That women are just sexual creatures? Does this mean that in the past, before feminism the world was better? In the past, the way that every single culture once viewed the world that men are better than women that women can only submit to men, and that to men playing with women is a fun game. Much of the world is moving past these stereotypes of women and their roles, however, ads like this can only set us back. An ad like this can only serve to reinforce some of the stereotypes of our past, rather than allowing us to move forward. Once again, although this ad is pretty blatant about it when it comes to the game controller coming out of the women’s belly button, the idea that women are to be controlled as if they were a game console by men is not exclusive to this ad.

Ads such as these are used because marketer’s believer they work. In particular, they think they work for the target market. However, the message here is a dangerous one. The first step towards violence is dehumanization. Ads such as these portray women as objects. Once someone becomes a thing, it becomes easier to disrespect that person, and ultimately cause violence to her.

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