The Role of Masculinity in Advertisements
Most advertisements are subtle in the way they deliver messages to their audiences, but when one takes a step back, he/she can identify what these hidden messages are. Every kind of media outlet is trying to depict a certain message and uses very clever techniques to entice their audiences. Most of the advertisements we see have distinct gender roles of a man and a woman. Masculinity and the true meaning of what a man’s role in society should be are one of the main themes advertisers use to send their message to a national audience.
Masculinity in the Arab world is sometimes used to control a women’s sexuality and that’s where the whole concept of patriarchy fits in. The “traditional” Arab man is strong, confident, and controlling. He is always sure of himself and does not take no for an answer. This does however create power dynamics and connectivity among the opposite sex.
Everywhere we look, we can find ways gender roles have been incorporated into our daily lives, especially through commercials and billboards.
The commercial that caught my attention the most is the Snickers advertisement produced in Egypt that was aired on MBC. The title of this commercial is Enta mish enta wenta ga3an, which means you are not yourself when you are hungry.Honestly, I believe it is the most sexist commercial I have yet to see. The theme I got from the commercial is “The best in a woman is a man”. The Snickers advertisement starts out with three people trying to push a car in order to make it run. It seems as if the car stopped in the middle of the road. There are three people trying to make the car start, two males and one “female”. The “female”, who is a famous Egyptian actress, constantly complains about how tired she is and doesn’t have the strength to push the car any further. Well, the “woman” is actually a man called “Karim,” but only after “he” eats the snickers did “he” essentially becomes a man. Before “Karim” eats the snickers bar, he is complaining also about how hot it is and is characteristic of what the media tries to depict of a woman: irritable, nagging all the time and physically weak. The two other men label him as a “drama queen”. The “real” men are pushing the car are not complaining at all. So how do they portray a man who hasn’t had a snickers bar? : As a woman. A “real” man should not nag or show any kind of emotion. He just has to get the job done. It is not a “woman’s” job to push a car, but rather the “man’s” job. This further adds the gender roles of a man and woman. The person in the car is a woman who is telling the men to hurry up. “Karim” is being a “drama queen”, which is what a female should be and not a man. He turns into a man only after he has a Snickers bar. Overall, at an anthropological standpoint, the commercial shows the functional structure of females in relation to males and vice versa as well as the power dynamics and connectivity of each in regards to one another.
There is another Snickers commercial similar to the one above, but is targeted towards a Western audience. In the commercial is the famous American actress, Betty White. The commercial was aired during the 2010 Super Bowl.
Other than the Snickers commercial, there are several billboard and magazine ads that further emphasize the role of a man in society. Women are often portrayed as sex objects and that can be noted by the little amount of clothing they are wearing and the way they are posing in the ads in comparison to the men. The man is usually subtler maybe to depict his role in society as effortless in everything he does. He does not have to try too hard to be sexy. He just has to have a certain tough, rugged look and wear something stylish, whereas the girl has to make an extra effort to be shown and most likely by showing of her body, which is the easiest technique used by advertisers to grab attention. The ways these advertisers construct their ads are very well thought out. In most of the ads I have seen, the man seems to be the more dominating factor. For example, the position of the woman is always under the man. This depicts the power dynamic between the two genders. The man is more powerful and therefore is above the woman.