Jean Kilbourne is a renowned author whose works have significantly been read and mostly aligned on how women are oppressed daily in society. The essay narrates how women are depicted in advertisements in trying to make more sells of a product. She picks advertisements from different firms having different themes with the only similarity being the depiction of women as sexual objects in need of dominance. Often the ads, as she narrates, have objectified women to the point that it instils fear and terror in the already helpless and victimized group that has usually led to violence. The advertisers use sex to drive the advertisement world, which has degraded and victimized women in various ways. Kilbourne has incorporated elements of rhetoric in the essay to persuade the audience into seeing and understanding the consequences that women have been forced to undergo. She does the persuasion using tangible pieces of evidence from several advertisements known to the audience.
The essay is about how women are degraded in the roles they are given in the advertisements and how it affects their growth and self-esteem altogether. Jean Kilbourne takes the attention of the audience and also that of the advertising firms as her main target. Various product brands have been brought in the limelight and how representatives in the corporate world have justified themselves to market their products depending on the looks of a woman, the sexual appeal. She further explains how the advertisements do not end up marketing the product but rather promote sexual abuse and violence in society. The author proves that the media has influenced the perception of women by men seeing them as subordinates to them and thus as people who need dominance. She does not use titles but the advertisements as a guide to the readers and lets the audience understand that she is totally against it.
The author applies Ethos in her narration to establish her credibility in the subject matter. Since the beginning, she has let the readers know that she has thoroughly thought and found facts about what she speaks about. Her familiarity with the problem in advertising makes people listen to her. It is stated, “Kilbourne has spent most of her professional life teaching and lecturing about the world of advertising. She has produced award-winning documentaries on images of women in ads…” (Kilbourne, 575). It shows how credible the information she is passing across is as extensive research has been done all over the years since she began. She dedicates her professional life into sensitizing people about the negative impacts of creating advertisements for products based on sexual appeal, mostly women. The awards she has won are a prove of the legibility of her works and the impacts she has made at attempts of reducing the objectification of women in advertisements.
Kilbourne has significantly applied Pathos in most of her articles since appealing to emotions often profoundly engages the audience in her literature. She has painted many pictures in the mind of the readers due to her writings that are very descriptive concerning the victimization of women in advertisements that have also influenced the perception of women in society. Kilbourne explains how women try to survive in their homes after being targeted in the commercials. She writes, “Although usually numb to these facts on a conscious level, most women live in a state of subliminal terror, a state that…keeps us divided both from each other and our most passionate, powerful, creative selves.” (Kilbourne, 586) The fear instilled in women from the instance of victimization makes them isolate themselves, keeping to themselves and suppressing their true colors. The statement effectively takes the attention of the reader, especially if they have faced similar situations and therefore would agree with the opinion and facts that Kilbourne gives.
Finally, the author uses Logos to provide more explanation and information about her opinion through numerous examples from a variety of advertisements that spearheads her argument. She appeals to what is logical in society. In the present error, an error influenced mainly by the visual media culture; an average American is exposed to almost 3000 advertisements daily. It ranges from billboards in public places to commercials on the television. Publications are everywhere in the surrounding with nearly all of them having two standard features: stereotypical imagery and sexual content. It does not fit logic since ads should provide more information about a product rather than paint a picture showing how the product will affect the customers. The author says, “an ad for MTV shows a vulnerable young woman, her breast exposed, and the simple ‘Bitch’ word placed between her breast.” (Kilbourne, 612)She wonders precisely what was being advertised. She questions the logic advertisers base their works on since there is nothing logical about some of the ads.
In conclusion, Jean addresses the problem in the advertising field. She explains how the advertisements bring about violence on women indirectly since images in the ads facilitate the objectification of women, which degrades their position in society, which eventually leads to violence. She broke down several advertisements for renown firms and how their themes enhance the degrading and objectification of women. The article provides very many insights from very many examples of ads. The use of rhetoric has enabled her to acquire all the attention of the readers. Flawing the female gender as mere subjects of submission and men as dominant and aggressive is not right. The advertisements need to be checked and regulated since the virtual world is fast growing, and the current trends of women depiction would only grow more extensive if it is not addressed at the right time. Domestic violence is a growing menace with its routes being traced back to advertisements. Kilbourne has researched and proved that indeed, women have been used for their sexual appeal in the ads, and that has degraded most of the women self-esteem.
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