“How Sex Sells” Within Women and Their Bodies

Mass media and society are a major concern in today’s society. Society today is filled with mass media, almost everybody in their daily lives uses film, radio, print, television, and the internet. In the current world, we go through a wide mass media environment that has not been ventured in history; this means almost all content appearing in the media is relatively new. The effect of the media on our culture is rarely noticed but it exists. Media has over the years been used as a marketing tool for companies promoting their products. In the process of marketing human aspects such as human sexuality has been incorporated in adverts.

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Every day we are at the potential to be exposed to an average of 2000 adverts. This is one of the most educative channels in society today. It is estimated that on average an American spends one and a half years of their entire life watching commercials on the television media. The advertisements have more than awareness to offer to their audience. They sell product value, flashy images, and concepts having success and attraction, love, and human sexuality, this whole trend then becomes normalcy and popularity. The manner of advertising changes our perceptions because in most cases they show us who we are and direct us to what we should be (Croteau and Hoynes. 2003).

Human sexuality refers to how human beings refer to themselves as sexual beings. Sexuality is one of the most powerful channels of marketing. The origin of using human sexuality in marketing can be traced back to 1953 in playboy magazine. Previously erotic sexual orientation was used but during this year the magazine introduced the slogan ‘sex sells’. This was the starting point in the use of sex as part of advertising; it became a normal practice henceforth and was well accepted by society. ‘Sex sells’ works in different ways; sex brings out some attractiveness and provokes positive responses to the audience. Product lacking a sexual connection will normally contain very attractive men and women.

It is human nature to be anxious and curious about sex. Advertisements using sexual images normally direct visual attention. Sex sells adverts have been criticized and have been blamed for demonstrating women as objects, obscenity, and reinforcing sexism and stereotyping. Sexual objectification of women has taken place when they are used as sexual objects. This is so since the sexual characteristic and physical attractiveness of women are separated from their personality and individual character and reduced to be sources of pleasure to the targeted audience (Doyle, 2006).

Adverts using human sexuality degrade women. Though using sex to sell products has shown improving products sales, women have been degraded. These adverts with scantly dressed beautiful women represent more than products content. Sex has been identified as one of the major factors that contributed to strong brands. Degradation comes from the fact that women are demonstrated as objects of desire. Adverts have also demonstrated that beauty queens and models fit well in the marketing sector as advertising agents. This is a form of exploitation as the models are seen not to venture into other professional sectors.

Advertisement has become part and parcel of the mass media. The use of images and sound and a variation in their combination has been used to promote goods and services through adverts. Most of the time the mass media viewers or users may see these adverts as important and at times they may ignore them. The advertisers are aware that the adverts can be easily ignored; they counter this by reengineering the adverts to become more attractive and eye-catching. Various techniques are employed to create awareness of the products being advertised. The techniques may vary but the goal of creating awareness remains as the sole purpose of advertising. Most of the techniques are designed in a manner that tricks the potential customers to purchase or use the product (Croteau and Hoynes. 2003).

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Human sexuality in advertisement can be regarded as a lack of ethics in the marketing industry. Basing the fact that laws and regulations are governing the media houses and the media operators, ethics are not well observed in the marketing business sector. Fashion and culture play an important part in relaying messages in the media. Media materially promotes products. Materialism is the philosophy that demonstrates things exist physically. The advertisement promotes materialism by demonstrating that certain products make people happy and by purchasing these products one derives more value and pleasure thereby making their lives more worthwhile.

Looking at cosmopolitan, women’s magazine consumers are provided with lots of advertisements aimed at promoting the sales of clothing, jewelry, and other women’s items. Some of these products are sold through products image, which is represented by a beautiful woman. Dressmakers use women dressed in their dresses having different women poses to persuade customers to buy the product. One renowned dressmaker using such a strategy in this magazine is Melene Birge. Her advert shows a woman standing in a corporeal position. The woman is portrayed wearing an expensive dress, with a thin body, long beautiful hair, spotless face, and sexy legs. The picture draws all men’s attention o the picture which could make them buy the dresses for their spouses. Women are also targeted by the advert to buying expensive dresses because they would like to have the same beauty. This kind of advertisement is a clear demonstration of how women’s bodies have been used to sell expensive dresses and have become a major attraction to selling volumes of clothes to new buyers (Streitmatter, 2004).

Britney Spears spends most of the video promoting her sexuality rather than focusing on the music. Britney is therefore using sex to sell her music; it was the first Britney’s music video that showed her seductiveness. It is generally referred to as very provocative and was very infamous; to a certain point, it raised the concern of animal rights groups for its inclusion of non-indigenous animal species. This makes many buyers buy the video just from the fact that they think she is cute rather than her talent in music (Jackson, 2003).

Many of the adverts containing women have been used in all types of products being advertised, from cars, detergents, foodstuff, and many more. All these adverts have women with lean bodies portrayed to have the perfect lifestyle that led to a good marriage, loving kids, great sex, and a successful career. It is a proven fact that some of these women in these adverts have suffered health problems associated with excessive dieting and lack of food. The presentation of thin women has harmed the women viewers who have low self-esteem. Such women have developed unhealthy eating habits intending to cut weight. This has brought more problems such as depression, and eating disorders like anorexia and Nervosa. A study conducted by an eating disorder research group indicated that one in four women in college was using unhealthy slimming methods such as fasting, skipping meals, and induced vomiting. Some even used extreme measures that we’re exposing them to severe health complications through the use of laxatives.

Adverts with strong human sexuality can be said to erode individual values and standards through peer pressure that is promoted in the mass media. They are particularly vulnerable to adolescents since they are new and lack experience in the usage of some products. They become the prime targets since they are in the process of self-discovery. Young people are easy to convince to use a particular product because they are in the process of shaping their values and roles in society, and in the process of determining their standards and choices. The vulnerability of young people arises because they are sensitive to peer pressure and have been known not to question the morality of cultural messages advocated by the media (Reichert and Lambiase, 2003).

The media has over the years played a role in the transmission or passage of societal beliefs, norms, and cultural attitudes. The passage of these societal aspects has ensured one generation’s aspects are transferred to the next. The passage has been responsible for the continuation of social behaviors that reflect the social-cultural, religious and ethical behaviors that are currently practiced by the current audiences. This is one of the positive concepts media has brought into society. However, most advertisements are used in different countries that the product is used. This leads to a breakdown of culture, young generation grows not knowing their culture. This also forms a channel through which new culture is acquired.

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Media content containing human sexuality in adverts has had a lot of economic impacts. It has contributed to stimulating demand by increasing demand for the advertised products. Increased demand has helped to make the economy of a country grow stronger. Advertising has made new inventions and new products to be known at a faster rate, this has enabled the new business establishments to strategically position themselves among older brands. Increased demand caused by advertisement can be linked to a reduction in the cost of production due to the benefits of mass production. The cost reduction may be transferred to the consumers by reducing a product’s price; this has a multiplying effect because the price reduction can cause customers to buy more products. One other under-viewed economic benefit is that in preparation of the media content creates employment. The models, video shooters, and editors, advertising agents are employed or get some income from this activity. It is also a source of revenue to the government through taxation. However, the advertisement may have a negative economic impact on the price of commodities. Advertisement incurs high marketing costs, the media houses rely on advertisement as their major income generator. The media houses may charge product advertisers high amounts that are transmitted to the customers through price increase (Streitmatter, 2004).

Media advertising has some social impact on the audiences. It hurts the disadvantaged or minority groups. Rarely do the media address issues related to minority groups as a way of addressing their concerns. The adverts portray these groups to be inferior to others and hurt the socialization of these groups with the rest. Sex sales in media advertising have been criticized by the religious sector. Most of these adverts have women dressed to impress both women and men, to men they can cause some form of distraction. They are unhealthy to a man’s mind; they contribute to igniting sexual desire causing men to lust. According to the Christian faith, lust is a sin and it consumes one’s thoughts and dreams. Lust is a sin from one of the Ten Commandments. Human sexuality demonstrated in the adverts according to many cultures can be described to have a high degree of immodesty. Immodesty in many cultures in the world is culturally unacceptable. The images of nude people and some wearing little clothing can be classified as soft pornography because of the exposure of body parts normally covered by clothing.

Sexualized advertising provides or bombards children with sexual messages from all forms of media. The messages derived from them are not healthy for the children. Sexuality content in the adverts makes children curious. Since in many societies sexual matters are not openly discussed between the parents and the children, children may mischievously engage in sexual practices without the knowledge of their parents. Children may interact with the media without the guidance or watch of their parents; this puts them in a situation of anxiety over certain sexual matters. Children may develop new unwarranted sexual attitudes that may hinder their interaction and socialization in the future (Reichert and Lambiase, 2003).

Finally, the use of sexual appeal in the advertisement affects communication effectiveness. Sexual appeals have a strong effect on recalling or remembering products. Products with sexual appeal are easily remembered than those lacking a sexual appeal if advertised similarly. An explicit sexual appeal has harmed the purpose of advertisement; product reputation has decreased thereby undermining the communication aspect of the advert. Adverts using sexual appeal vary in the ineffectiveness of relaying their message depending on the product advertised, the targeted gender, and the media used. While sexualized advertisements continue to be used, people should become more aware of their impact and should educate the young generation on the untold impacts. The elderly and parents should offer guidance to the children to bridge the information gap that exists between the advertisement and their knowledge.

Reference List

Croteau David & Hoynes. William (2003). Media society: industries, images, and audiences. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press.

Doyle Jennifer (2006). Sex objects: art and the dialectics of desire. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press.

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Jackson, D. T. (2003). The Hip Hop Tree: Seeds, Essays and Thoughts. Bloomington: Universe.

Reichert, T. & Lambiase. J. (2003). Sex in Advertising Perspectives on the Erotic. New York: Routledge.

Streitmatter Rodger (2004). Sex sells! : The media’s journey from repression to obsession. Boulder: Westview Press.

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