Gender, Advertising, and Thoughts

The family went to Equine Affaire
for our annual horse expo experience. There weren’t as many
deals as years past, but the crowds were just as big. The [Pfizer
Fantasia](http://www.equineaffaire.com/massachusetts/features/pfizer-fantasia/)
show was great. The Friesian “[Behind the
Mask](http://www.ddphorses.com/)” drill team was creative and well
done. Overall, a fun time.

For whatever reason, this year-moreso than others-I noticed the targeted
advertising to women. The Northeast horse community is predominantly
female. The riders, the instructors, the barn owners, and so on are
likely women. It makes sense to advertise to the local market. However,
it wasn’t the advertisements per se, but how the women in them are
portrayed. The women are portrayed as sexy young girls. The men are
portrayed as mature paranoid killers. There’s no other way to say it.

Turning a strong, independent horsewoman into an insecure sexy pre-teen
seems to be the trend. It’s a complete revulsion to me. The few people
I asked about the ads felt they were harmless. A few of the women joked
that it was probably some primadonna model who’s never been near a
horse in her life. Hmm. Maybe I’m crazy. I’m obviously not the target
demographic. But I couldn’t help but seeing these trends everywhere in
advertisements. I guess after years and years of ignoring ads, not only
do you get good at not paying attention to the useless stuff, you’re
blind to the content as well.

Turns out, I’m not the first to notice this trend by far (I’m
likely the last in a long line of people). The [Gender Ads
Project](http://www.genderads.com/) and [Sut
Jhally](http://www.sutjhally.com/) have lots of thoughts on the topic.

I’m not in some moral panic about it. Education seems to be key here. Even
with laws and morals, advertisers are still going to use what
works. Regulating morality seems a bad idea. Pointing it out to others
seems to make them at least aware of the content of ads. At least one
of the sales people I talked to felt the ad totally missed their target
market. Portraying hunter/jumper riders as sexualized idiots
probably wasn’t the point of the ad.

If you have 45 minutes free, this is a fine overview of the situation:
The Codes of Gender.

originally published at wiki.lewman.is

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