These two ads are from two time periods, believe it or not.. The picture on the left is by Drummond in 1967, while the right is Tom Ford 2008. Drummond’s advertisement appeared in the Mad Men era, which started from a NYC ad agency in the 1960s. The AMC show not only became a smash hit but also launched a cultural phenomenon. Harking back to an era when women were considered subservient to men, these ads from the 1960s enforced that stereotype gender roles of women. I believe at the time, there was cultural anxiety that collided with gender roles. Kaiser mentions that masculine style-fashion-dress “is a space that is fraught with ambivalence and anxiety” (Kaiser, 136). In 1963, most Americans did not yet believe that gender equality was possible or even desirable. It was thought that a woman could not pursue a career and still be a fulfilled wife or successful mother. But, 1963 is also when the Feminine Mystique came out, sparking a second wave of feminism. I believe that because men felt threatened by the rising independence and power of women, by objectifying them, men would still be portrayed as dominant. And there has always been the notion of “Sex Sells” that has been a predominant marketing strategy in fashion and advertising. This masculine anxiety of what power roles are, what social positions entail, what women stand for culminated into the release of sexist advertising, trying to enforce traditional gender roles. Yet, to see that still apparent in 2008, when women have achieved much more power in representing themselves and being forces of power, it is still shocking to see these kinds of advertising that put women into subservient “housewife” roles. The fact that the woman in the Tom Ford ad is naked reinforces the “Sex Sells” theory (while the other is, badly, covered up). This has not been the only ad that Tom Ford has released around 2008 where it sets women back into objectified, subservient roles. There has also been a lot of sexualization of women’s bodies in their ads, as well as suggestive positions. With so many strong female figures in today’s society, is this a resurgence of male insecurity and anxiety over power?
Suistudio 2017 Ad
This ad by Suistudio, a female suit company, released its campaign in 2017 with the #NotDressingMen. While this campaign seems to subvert gender roles, there is still something alarming about it. The notion of a powerful, successful and confident woman living in a penthouse, wearing a suit, is attractive. But should this type of imagery come at the expense of men? Is it necessary to objectify men in order to elevate women? It is the exact opposite from the ads above, but the use of a nude male body to challenge power roles is still sending a message of oppression. Neither gender should be exploited to sell clothing, because clothing is supposed create a emotion or feeling, not stereotype or corner either gender into a box. This ad points out to the double standard of “Sex Sells”, proving that gender is not important, the message of who is in control is portrayed through the clothing and the lack of.