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Archive for May, 2007

Taking the feminist approach to looking at a banned beer commercial, my first thought is, no wonder it’s banned. This video is extremely degrading to women.

  • For starters, the woman in the commercial is seen as unattractive. But, Why? Could it be because she’s wearing glasses, she has here hair pulled back, and is quietly stirring her tea or coffee?
  • More importantly I don’t see the relevance of the woman when the commercial is for beer.
  • Why is a woman’s appearance being used to sell a product? Whether or not she is dressed to impress should have nothing to do with selling the product. This ties in well with Rubin’s idea of the “trafficking of women”. Rubin states, “Women are given in marriage…exchanged for favors…traded, bought, and sold” (1673). I would say that this is what is happening in this video. The focus is drawn to the woman and how after a few beers she looks like she’s trying to give this guy a peep show. It seems to me that rather than selling a product, a woman is being used to sell her sexual seductiveness towards men. You can see this selling of seductiveness throughout the commercial because the focus isn’t necessarily the beer. The only shot you get of the beer is an angle looking into the glass, not at the name of the beer distributor. Each time he takes a drink, the more sexual the woman becomes showing the viewers that the focus is on the how much the woman is taking off and how she gradually becomes more “beautiful”.
  • As the commercial progresses the woman is supposedly becoming more attractive as the man drinks the beer. What is defining the attractiveness of the woman? Can a man not see a woman attractive with glasses on? The first thing to come off of her is her glasses. Her hair is then down and goes from straight to curly. Is curly hair more attractive than straight hair?
  • Butler would contribute this idea of what is attractive to the images society places on gender and what is supposed to be seen as attractive. Take models or even something like American Idol for example. At the beginning of the session the judges sit in front of people listen to them sign and then determine whether they will fit the IMAGE OF AN AMERICAN IDOL. What the hell is the image of an American Idol? They have it predetermined based on what society tells us is attractive. They have to “have the looks” as well as the voice. I would say can’t someone be attractive based on their lovely voice?! Butler states,

“bodily gestures, movements, and styles of various kinds constitute the illusion of an abiding gendered self…this moves the conception of gender off the ground of substantial model of identity to one that requires a conception of gender as a constituted social temporality…a performative accomplishment which the mundane social audience, including the actors themselves, come to believe and to perform in the mode of belief” (2501).

It seems to me that what Butler is saying here is that theses constructs society is attaching to the idea of gender are performed regularly by all the people in the world. Tying this to the commercial, what makes this woman attractive is based on the ideas we the people, (“the actors themselves”) allow society to restrict us with. According the Butler the examples set by society are what give us the impression that woman is attractive. Butler also states,

“…as a strategy of survival within compulsory systems, gender is a performance with clearly punitive consequences. Discrete genders are part of what “humanizes” individuals within contemporary culture; indeed we regularly punish those who fail to do their gender right. Because there is neither an “essence” that gender expresses or externalizes nor an objective ideal to which gender aspires, and because gender is not a fact, the various acts of gender create the idea of gender, and without those acts, there would be no gender at all” (2500).

Here one might say that the woman in the video didn’t survive based on what “humanizes” us as females. Until she begins to express the various acts of gender to fulfill our ideas of gender she can’t be seen as attractive. If only all these ideas could disappear than this video would have absolutely no point.

  • All the roles and appearances in the commercial appear to be very stereotypical. It’s as if, based on what society displays as attractive, the beer is beginning to cloud his vision of what she truly looks like, when in fact there is nothing wrong with the way she looks. The woman according to society is unattractive at the start of the commercial and when he realizes she hasn’t actually changed by the end of the commercial he needs another beer.
  • Butler does a great job in explaining the role society plays on gender through her idea of “gender performance”. “Butler argues that even anatomical differences can be experienced only through the categories and expectations set out by the culture’s signifying order…anatomical differences are mapped to expectations about sexual desire” (2485).
  • Overall I think the appearance of women is being destroyed in this commercial. The beer is hardly the focus. Once the woman appears to be “attractive” (according to the man in the commercial) she begins groping herself as if on a normal day while drinking coffee a woman is going to start pulling her shirt down and rubbing a spoon all over her body.
  • Why is it that looks are driving this man to drink? Is every guy out there supposed to think that because a woman doesn’t conform to society’s standards of attractiveness that he should be an alcoholic?

From the feminist perspective there is definitely something wrong with the way this commercial is trying to make women look.

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