Alcohol and cigarettes are another example of gendering in
advertising. Marlboro, Winston, and Camel cigarettes are top-selling brands. Their iconic ad campaigns are heavily geared toward men, often depicting very tough and masculine men riding horses or driving pickup trucks. Yet women as well as men smoke these brands. On the other hand, Virginia Slims are heavily marketed to women. Because of this, men will not typically smoke them. Remember that a cigarette is a cigarette. It is its association with women that prevents men from consuming the product.
This association and its impact on our behavior indicate the direction of power. The minoritized group can emulate the dominant group because in doing so they are emulating the higher status group and thus gain status; but the dominant group does not emulate the minoritized group because they are emulating the lower status group and thus lose status. This is why women wear pants as well as dresses, but men do not wear dresses as well as pants (there has been a small resurgence of kilts for men in alternative subculture, but these kilts are acceptable because they are masculinized by their association with ancestry and battle). Men who order cosmopolitans or other fruity drinks risk ridicule (because fruit is gendered female). This is an illustration of how powerful gender roles, unequal power, and marketing are in shaping our everyday choices.
Discourses of Sexism in Movies
Because we all share the same socialization through the wider culture, familiar stock characters and plots are an effective way to quickly communicate an emotion, story element, or plot tension. For example, if a director wants to convey ideas about a “studious female,” he can quickly signal this idea by visually coding the character as someone who wears glasses, has brown hair, and dresses conservatively.
Conversely, in a slasher film, we know from the start which females will be murdered (all but one) and which won’t (only one will survive). The women who will be murdered are sexually promiscuous and often unintelligent and thus “deserve” to die. This is quickly signaled through cues in dress, behavior, and music. The audience, because it has seen these signifiers repeatedly, immediately understands the character types. This process normalizes these outcomes for women and what they deserve. What women deserve is always tied to their relationships to men, whether she will be killed by a man if she is bad, or get the man if she is good. Further, because the women who die in slasher films are highly sexualized, the violence toward them is also sexualized. The repetitiveness of these story lines makes these roles and outcomes for women normal and unremarkable, while reinforcing these concepts under the surface of our