In this essay I will analyze gender and the way in which females are represented in the media through the gaze. I will use extracts of Roslins Corwards ‘The Look’ to support my arguments.
I looked at the ‘Ange ou demon’ perfume advert by Givenchy. The title translates angel or demon, the perfumes name it’s self creates a sexualised attached stigma about the women's sexuality and personality making the audience. In particular men fantasize about what she is like, and women want to exude the confidence the model has in the image. “The relations involved in looking enmesh with cohesive beliefs about the appropriate sexual behavior for men and women. The saturation of society with images of women has nothing to do with men’s natural appreciation of objective beauty, their aesthetic appreciation, and everything to do with an obsessive recording and use of women's images in ways which make men comfortable”. (Coward, R., ‘The Look’ in Thomas, J. (e.d) (2000), Reading Images Basingstoke: Palgrave,pp34). In reality women in society are frowned upon if they are availably sexually promiscuous, this advert plays on these cultural ideals in a fantasy why by saying that she is the perfect mixture of both and so can the audience if they buy into the product.
The model in this image exudes class and sexuality through her body language which is poised and relaxed. Her outfit also is cut out showing her very lower back. The lower back is seen as a sexual part of the women as the curve of her back leads to her bottom and this is excentuated through the lighting in the image. “Women are bound to this power precisely because visual impressions have been elevated to the position of holding the key to our psychic well-being, our social success, and indeed to whether or not we will be loved”. (Coward, R., ‘The Look’ in Thomas, J. (e.d) (2000), Reading Images Basingstoke: Palgrave,pp34) Women would look at this advert and aspire to be like this women, as she is a figure of beauty and desire through her outfit, which connotes a glamorous lifestyle. Images like these create emotional manipulation for women as they will look at these images and think the answer to be desired likes the women in the advert is to either buy into the product or model themselves on the women in the advert. It creates false needs of wanting to loved and desired and instinctively makes them seem like human needs such as eating, breathing and happiness within ones self. On the other hand men will look at this image and identify this as a norm, as images like these are circulating throughout the media and have become and accustomed ideal that hasn’t been challenged.
Women look at other women and compare themselves weather it be through their friends, strangers or what is portrayed in the media. “Women are, more often than not, preocupied with images, their own and other peoples”. (Coward, R., ‘The Look’ in Thomas, J. (e.d) (2000), Reading Images Basingstoke: Palgrave,pp36) The models gaze in the advert looks down at the audience and has a sense of authority and an heir of importance. Other women will look at her and want to obtain these values that are so-called prescribed in the product that is being advertised.
The ideal beauty of a women is forever changing and advancing depending on what a man see’s as acceptable. “The ‘aesthetic sex’ is the subordinate sex because beauty like truth is one of those empty terms, filled by the values of a particular society at a given historical moment”. (Coward, R., ‘The Look’ in Thomas, J. (e.d) (2000), Reading Images Basingstoke: Palgrave,pp35) In the 1530’s women with curves such a ‘venus’ by male painter Alexandre Camlet were seen as beautiful and desirable. Today women who are very slim with big assets are seen as the so called ‘ideal’, thus messing with women's physiological feelings about themselves and creating anxieties.
In conclusion women will continually feel that they are not good enough or aim to be better. “Advertising in this society builds precisely on the creation of an anxiety to the effect that, unless we measure up, we will not be loved. We are set to work on an ever-increasing number of erotogenic zones” (Coward, R., ‘The Look’ in Thomas, J. (e.d) (2000), Reading Images Basingstoke: Palgrave,pp38). This is never ending circle through the these ideals that perpetuated in the media and society.