This is a course blog for Denison University's COMM 229: Mediating Gender & Sexuality Course
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Content Analysis: Women as Consumers
One line in van Zoonen's text that struck me was: "If we do not conceive of advertising as a reflection of reality, but as an expression of capitalist consumer culture, it is clear that the 'new woman' is primarily interesting for her increased purchasing power." I truly wish that the new portrayals of women in the media have aimed to reflect the increasing equality of women in society. Unfortunately, I feel that especially in advertisements, womens' increased depictions are not for the right reasons, but rather to connect better with women who have a large spending agenda. I was reminded of the jewelry advertisements I was seeing throughout my local mall when I was reading some of the other blog posts. Above is an example of how jewelers see women as having high purchasing power, enough even to buy themselves a diamond ring for their right hand. Instead of reading the text as "Women of the World, raise your right hand", I hear in my mind: "Women with money, open your wallets". I do understand that jewelry can be a "treat" to women and it makes women feel pretty and stylish to adorn themselves with gold, silver and various gems. But a diamond ring is a much bigger investment than some costume jewelry you buy to match your dress for the night. Jewelers depend on people getting engaged and buying rings, but they are missing out on the population of people who aren't. Advertisements like these make women feel like they should purchase a diamond ring, regardless of their marital status. As the pessimist that I am, rather than seeing this advertisement as empowering women, all I see is another ploy to get women to spend their money (with the false promise of empowerment). As far as I know, wearing a ring on your right hand has never symbolized being independent, empowered or confident. It does, however, usually signify that the wearer has money. That is why I think advertisements like these are more interested in making money, not providing women with a product that is truly empowering.