Everyone who goes to the cinema knows that they’ll first be subjected to at least 10 minutes of (if they’re lucky) trailers and (if they’re not so lucky) inane ads about haircare, StarHub home broadband packages and Visa card ads that haven’t been quite the same ever since they moved on from that guy with the dance.
But if you’re really unlucky, you’ll have to sit through some truly sexist stuff. Sometimes twice.
The way women get portrayed in the media – advertising included – is important. It influences the way society views and pigeonholes women. It has the power to break or reinforce stereotypes, and stereotypes have very real impact on the way we make assumptions about people.
The above ad for Golden Village’s Gold Class cinema shows a couple watching what I presume is a very exciting film. But she’s not paying much attention; she’s more distracted by her need for a drink, popcorn, nachos and a whole host of other things (what more can you ask for at a cinema?!)
Does she fulfil these needs herself? No, she gets her boyfriend to do it. “Baby…”
Our takeaway from this ad is not only that women lack foresight (never think about buying popcorn and drink before going in ah?) but that they are needy, whiny and unable to sort their own problems. Oh, these flighty, silly creatures.
Then there’s the other Gold Class ad:
Here, the women are shown to be fussy, high maintenance and materialistic, and for some reason chose to go to a neighbourhood coffeeshop only to talk about spinach ravioli in creamy pomodoro sauce. See lah, coffeeshop uncle had to solve the problem for them.
Petty, materialistic, helpless, whimsical, emotional, difficult… these are all stereotypes that society has held – and continues to hold – about women. It makes us come to baseless conclusions about women: a recent article in The Atlantic revealed that women’s pain get taken less seriously than men in emergency rooms, because people (including other women!) don’t take their word or believe that they are able to properly describe their experience. Gender stereotyping is a contributing factor to why women drop out of science, and can also have an impact on wage discrimination as well as hiring/firing practices.
Golden Village is by no means the only company that has produced sexist ads. They are unfortunately far more common than we would wish (see here and here). Recognising them for the rubbish that they are can be one step in helping us be aware of how stereotypes inform the way we see the world, and people around us.