Week 11; March 24th-31st Blog Entry #3 (Done by M).

Axe: Preserving Stereotypes

            Over the years, Axe has made a name for itself through hyper sexualized commercials that feature women swarming men because of their distinctive Axe scent.
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            This new Axe commercial, titled Make Love, Not War attempts to diverge from that tired and misogynistic premise; in doing so, itdepicts some of America’s biggest foreign political threats, like the nuclear weapons crisis in Iran, as well as the communist threat in North Korea. However, things are not as they appear when the commercial takes a twist and displays the ostensible leaders of Iran and North Korea performing a gesture of love for their respective partners; hence again the title, Make Love, Not War. This blog will examine the abundances of gendered and radicalized messaging to ultimately conclude that the social constructions that make women subordinate to men, and the ‘whiteness’ that is essentially a prerequisite to heroism, run rampant in this Axe commercial.

            At the outset, it is obvious that Axe has not entirely changed its sexualized marketing scheme as evident by the not-so-subtle sexual undertone in the commercial title Make Love, Not War. Axe insinuates that making love is the antonym to war, and love can be achieved presumably with the simple application of Axe body spray. This implication is even more obvious in the first scene; a seeming male aggressor in an army tank turns a corner to find a classically beautiful woman staring down the tank’s barrel. Despite disastrous battlegrounds, the woman’s makeup is perfectly intact, and her six-inch vibrant red heels are without tarnish. In a typical Axe commercial, it would not be uncommon to see women undoing their tops and relentlessly pouncing on the male subject. However in this commercial, the females are given slightly more agency by showing their fearlessness towards heavy military artillery, complimented with eye-line camera shots that convey authority. This challenges the general societal view that women are “nurturing, self-sacrificial, and empathetic” (Tolmie). Still, when the tank’s operator rears his head, the woman can’t help but throw herself at her seeming boyfriend, ruining any independent authority she once had. Similarly in the next scene a helicopter lands on a desolate field, and another soldier is reunited with his seeming wife. Again, the second wife is classically beautiful, and regardless of the flailing dust from the helicopter propellers, her white garments remain pristine. To account for both women’s faultless appearances, consider the first lecture when professor Tolmie discussed how in advertisement, women are often portrayed as perfect, and can do no wrong (Tolmie). This ties back to professor Tolmie’s discussion on the “politics of rescue”, which essentially outlined the male-female rescuer dichotomy that places females in positions of distress, and males in positions of power to save them. This in turn works to perpetuate the social constructions that have determined men to have “dominance, wealth, competitiveness, physical prowess, violence, and physical perfection”, and women as being helplessly reliant on men for saving (Tolmie). Axe chose to subtly exploit these societal conventions in this commercial, which work against the equal society for which we strive.
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            Underlying racial messages play an important role in this commercial as well. For example, the second scene in which the soldier comes to the rescue of the Asian woman is a classic example of man being a ‘white knight’ and forcing cultural hegemony. Along with the obvious sexist undertones mentioned above, this scene is indicative of the Western mentality that countries like America and England can be saviors to less developed Eastern countries. Amidst the chaos in this scene, a community of Asian people is shown as running away, terrified at the sight of the military helicopters. Professor Tolmie discussed orientalism, a concept that suggests the East to be “exotic, mysterious, secret, uncivilized, a binary opposite to the West” (Tolmie). Upon close examination of this scene, it is obvious Axe attempts to convey this Asian community uncivilized by showing huts made of wood, and a rural location that suggests exotic lands (Tolmie). As professor Tolmie put it, this type of orientalism creates an ‘other’ effect (Tolmie).

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            It is important to note Axe is a brand from the United Kingdom, and accordingly this commercial is made from a British perspective. However, this does not excuse the blatant racial stereotyping that is evident from the onset. Not only does Axe heighten the perception of ‘Western greatness’ by showing white people saving the day time after time, but Axe actually evokes a racist nuance by assigning the first instinct audiences have of Iran and North Korea to terrorist threats. With missiles being driven across the scene, the commercial flips to an ostensible Kim Jong Un presiding over a military assembly with his wife next to him. With this, Axe wants the audience to associate North Korea with communism and terrorism. In spite of all this, the North Korean leader presents his wife with a portrait of the two of them as opposed to an outward terrorist display that was implied by the ominous music. As if she’s relieved, Kim Jong Un’s wife grabs his hand. While this scene appears harmless, it is another prime example of sexism. It says that women cannot handle violence, which corroborates professor Tolmie’s point that women are seen as too delicate for violence and war (Tolmie). The same situation happens in what appears to be Iran. The Iranian leader is handed what seems to be the trigger to a bomb. When he pushes the trigger, fireworks explode in the sky. Axe used racial profiling here; axe implies that Iranians are prone to acts of terror. Similar to the North Korean leader’s wife, when the Iranian leader’s wife discovered it was merely fireworks exploding in the sky she gave her husband a forgiving laugh. This prompts one main question: is the falsehood that women cannot handle violence a product of Eastern societies only, or is this a universal belief? Either way, because Axe is a Western brand, this commercial comes off as unashamedly racist and sexist.
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            Overall, this Axe commercial is not unlike the others. It involves female subordination to men, as well as a component of Axe commercials I have never witnessed—racism.

– M

            

Tolmie, . “Gender, race, and Popular Culture.” Lecture 5, 7, 11. Queen’s University.             Kingston, Ontario. . Address.

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Week 11; March 24th-31st Blog Entry #3 (Done by R).

Is White Beauty the Right Beauty?

 

            When I first watched the commercial for “Pond’s White Beauty” I could not believe that people would actually buy such an oppressive and ridiculous product. I asked my roommate who was born and raised in India to watch the commercial with me and she confirmed that she even knows people who use this and similar products in hopes of ‘whitening’ their skin. 

           

            The commercial depicts a white, heterosexual male who, of course, has the power to pick up and dump any girl whenever he choses, leaving them to fawn over him until he changes his mind. It clearly oppresses the non-white female who is left by her boyfriend for a white woman. It shows her using this “Pond’s White Beauty” skin cream to lighten her skin in order to try and get back her ex-boyfriends attention. It leaves the awful message that darker skinned women are not as beautiful as white women when this could not be more false. The commercial uses the oppression that non-white women feel by women of white privilege. This product is almost trying to give these women a way out of their oppression. It is not telling them to be proud of who they are, but that they can try and change their appearance to seem more beautiful.

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The message of this commercial is telling females that they must change their appearance in order to impress hegemonic males. Not only does this commercial encourage the concept of having to improve oneself to win the battle for a male’s attention, but also it tells the viewer that in order to be more beautiful, you must be white. That is what really threw me off, because growing up in a dominantly white community; I am very used to the constant aspiration to be as tanned as possible. I am a culprit of buying tanning oil while on vacation or getting a spray tan for my high school graduation. Yet is this not the same as this pond’s cream, but in reverse? It is the same concept, but in this commercial it uses non-white women’s oppression to sell the product. We automatically think it is normal for white people to aspire to be darker, then are shocked when we see creams to make darker peoples skin lighter because it is oppressive.

 

In lecture we learnt about culture appropriation and I found it really interesting and think it can relate to this commercial. Culture appropriation is the adoption of some specific features of one culture by a different cultural group. We were given different examples of victoria secret models dressing up to imitate first nations for fashion shows, and other white models who yellow or black-faced themselves for fashion purposes as well. These white models are chosen over darker skinned models for these photo shoots and that really reinforces the idea that white models are considered more ‘versatile’ or more ‘beautiful’ than any other race. That is why these products of lightening ones skin is so popular. Flavia Dzodan stated that, “The problem with cultural appropriation is that it replaces the original with a copy created by the dominant culture.” That is essentially what this pond’s cream is doing. White dominance is replacing darker skin with the favored white skin appeal.

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Intersectionality is also featured in this commercial. They show the oppression of a non-white female whose life revolves around trying to get the affection of a white heterosexual male. The commercial plays on the oppression of not being white by basically telling the audience that being darker will not help get the man of your dreams; lightening your skin will give you more of a chance. This brand actually had 4 more commercials after the one shown to us. The last four episodes show the woman as her skin gradually gets lighter which correlates with receiving more and more attention from the man.  

 

I think there is an obvious correlation between race, gender, sexuality and the product. The commercial oppresses the non-white female and places all the power in the hands of the white heterosexual male. The commercial basically gives the perfect ‘way out’ of some of this oppression by lightening your skin in order to limit the oppression that is being placed upon you. However, in the commercial, even if you are white this still does not make you equal to the male. He easily discards his white, beautiful girlfriend at the end of the five series of commercials. The white male will always have the power and can triumph over the women because these oppressed women are portrayed as weak and will do anything for his affection.

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-R-

 

 

Works Cited

Tolmie, Jane. “Cultural Appropriation.” BioSci Complex AUD. 4 Mar. 2014. Lecture.

Week 11; March 24th-30th Blog Entry #3 (Done by J).

A Manly Mistake? Or a Preposterous Parody?

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Generation Z’s, or more fittingly, iGeneration’s understanding of gender, race, and culture are unavoidably flooded and influenced by technology and media. As a result, media provides society with gender specific constructions about masculinity, femininity, how to act, think, and feel. In particular, advertisements are a form of media that are guilty of enforcing gender stereotypes, especially in the form of parody. A parody is a widely used tool that humorously exaggerates certain themes or messages about society, while leaving an underlying message. They tend to be effective because of their relatable content that can be passively digested by the general public. Parodies, however, are quite frequently created as heedless attacks towards controversial topics such as gender. A commercial titled Summer’s Eve uses parody to sell gender specific body wash, revealing the inappropriate use of gender socialization, a homozygous view on male intelligence, and heteronormativity, ultimately contributing to the commercial’s flawed representation of gender.

The Summer’s Eve commercial is intended to sell a distinctly female body wash by enforcing its femininity. Using humour, Summer’s Eve makes the clear distinction between what is appropriate for males versus females. The complex plot involves a man showering, when his wife reveals that he is using a female body wash made safe for a woman’s ‘v’. Horrified, he feverishly sets off to remind himself and gain back his manhood, which the soap supposedly washed away. He dramatically engages in stereotypical male activities that represent strength and aggression such as painfully belly flopping into a pool, and pulling a car with him teeth. Not only are these stereotypes completely inaccurate, but they are too often taught to viewers through media and gender socialization. 

As outlined in Gender, Race, & Popular Culture, gender socialization is a process of interaction in which individuals learn the gender norms or their society, and how they fit within them (3). Children especially, develop and understanding of masculinity, femininity, and androgyny. The Summer’s Eve commercial is a tool for gender socialization because it teaches the viewers that “womanly products” are strictly for women, and men must display “masculine traits” to be a true man. The creators of the commercial may have believed the stereotypical male activities were natural or necessary in order for the man to reassert his masculinity, however this can damaging to the viewer. Creating an individual dimension on what is considered male, or how one should act to be male reinforces gender stereotyping. Associating aggression, self-confidence, and competition with men may not capture or define what is means to be male to certain people. Whether individuals do so at all, or only at certain times, all men are bound to express so-called “female traits” such as sensitivity and innocence at some point in their life. The truth of the matter is, men and women really aren’t all that different, yet the Summer’s Eve commercial encourages unnecessary gender distinctions. 

A significant concern in this commercial that may go unnoticed, but should be noted, is the offensive remarks made towards men. The Summer’s Eve commercial is visually humorous because of the heavy implication that men are mindless and immature enough to think that a body wash can actually rid them of their Y chromosome. It suggests that men are wrapped up in assuring themselves of their gender identity and will go to extreme lengths to prove their manly power and maintain their pride. This “joke” reinforces the homogenous viewpoint of men and their intelligence. Homozygosity refers to everyone being the same or similar in kind (Tolmie). In the Summer’s Eve commercial, their reference to masculinity on a large scale implies a large-scale homozygous depiction of all men as virile and idiotic. Not only is this a flawed representation of men, but as with gender socializing, viewers are learning stereotypical ideas of what it means to be a true man; muscular and fearless, but a fool. This parody might be funny at surface level, but is actually quite offensive towards male intelligence. 

The emphasis on heteronormativity in the Summer’s Eve commercial should also be questioned. Heteronormativity refers to lifestyle norms associated with the “natural” roles in life, that is male and female, and where heterosexuality is the only normal sexual orientation (Tolmie). So, how might this commercial be different if it didn’t feature a heteronormal couple, rather a trans-sexual, trans-gender, lesbian, or gay couple? Even further, consider how this commercial would differ if the couple were disabled? Or a couple of colour? It’s easy to laugh at a typical, heterosexual, able, and white couple in a parody, however any other couple may not evoke the same response. Privilege and relation are dominant factors that let us laugh at the heteronormal couple, compared to those who are oppressed and tied down to controversial issues about them that are ingrained within society. Such issues are an unforgettable part of history, and are slowly being brought to the attention of society. Unfortunately, however, I don’t think society is at a point just yet where we are able to laugh at the oppressed in a parody.

Thus, instead of digging past the surface, parodies remain within their comfort zone, silencing important issues. They are only able to discuss uncontroversial issues that can be laughed at and taken lightly. By using parody, the Summer’s Eve commercial attempts to sell their product with humour and personal relation. It’s baffling to think that with society’s persistent drive for equality, gender stereotyping is still seen as a humorous topic. But then again, this commercial doesn’t highlight humour a parody’s method to resist. Instead, initial laughter occurs when the male goes against the norm by using the female body wash, however this commercial focuses on how this is unacceptable. Resistance towards existing norms and the idea of challenging what normally goes unchallenged is seen as intolerable in the Summer’s Eve commercial.

Overall, the Summer’s Eve commercial is a parody that attempts to use humour in selling a specifically female body wash. However, it reinforces inappropriate gender stereotypes that many people are striving to eliminate in society. It’s one thing to market a certain product to males or females, but this commercial unjustly stigmatizes gender roles in society. 

– J.

Works Cited

Gender, Race, & Popular Culture. Toronto: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2014. Print.

Tolmie, Jane. “Lecture 7-1.” Queen’s University. Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. 18 February 2014. Lecture. 

Tolmie, Jane. “Tolmie (1).” Queen’s University. Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. 25 February 2014. Lecture.

 

Week 11; March 24th-30th Blog Entry #3 (Done by L).

Hail to the V

Summer’s Eve is a company that specifically sells feminine hygiene products and has been around for almost four generations (Summer’s Eve). Their latest commercial features a woman putting make up on in a bathroom while conversing with her implied long term boyfriend during his shower. She casually mentions that Summer’s Eve products are, “PH balanced, gentler than soap, and perfectly formulated for a woman’s v.” He was unable to hear her over the water and when he discovered that he was using the product meant for vaginas he became disturbed and rushed to prove his manliness in any and every way conceivable.

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Parody is used to sell this product through its play on the standardized middle class white couple, the exaggeration of the man’s masculinity, and the scandal of vaginas. Let me start off by stating that I like this commercial. I find it comedic, effective and relatable. I know that my boyfriend would react similarly to the man in the commercial and I would be laughing the entire time thinking, “What a complete dink”. It is not entirely informative about the range of products, and that is most likely related to my third point, but it does provide you with enough information to know what is going on and what it is you would have to research to find out more about their products.  

The characters that Summer’s Eve chose for their commercial are able bodied, white, attractive, heterosexual, middle class, and in a monogamous relationship. This commercial is arguably conventional in the sense that men are generally the greater focus in advertisements and that fact proves true in the Summer’s Eve one at question (Gendered Worlds, 397).  The woman, who is in the commercial for only one third of running time despite it being for feminine hygiene products, is depicted as calm and collected. She comes across this way because of her nonchalant response to her boyfriend’s over the top reaction to using her body wash. The setting of the commercial is in a large house with a pool, two cars, and spacious garage in a suburban neighbourhood. It severely plays on the American dream home lifestyle. Even though the commercial stars a male lead for the majority of air time, it is still heavily directed towards women. Whether or not they were in a relationship, the majority of all women have dealt with a senseless man at some point in their life which makes the commercial relatable. The combination of a gorgeous clean home and a simple, but caring man is attractive to the majority of women so it shows a lifestyle that is appealing without truly focusing on the woman at all. I prefer this attempt at relating to women far more than a guilt trip into making a woman believe that she needs to use their product. The company could have taken the route similar to Ponds cream where a woman is left by a man because of questionable odours and was coaxed into using Summer’s Eve products to “keep” her man and dream life.

A potentially problematic area of the commercial are what activities the man believed will assure him of his masculinity after using the body wash. The man in the advertisement can be described as a settled down man’s man. He’s clearly strong and appears to be laid back and easy going, looking almost completely like a man in a beer commercial. A few of the activities that the man engaged in are chopping wood in his backyard, drinking a raw egg, raging on the drums, boxing, doing a belly flop swan dive into a pool, breaking wood with his bare hands, pulling a car by a rope with his teeth, making an iron helmet similar to ones that Roman warriors wore, mowing the lawn on a power lawn mower, and finished off with the most classic, chugging a beer and crushing the can with his hand. The notion that beer helps make a boy a man is expressed in this commercial and is rather troubling. This character fits into the “rugged individual” category of men in commercials. In 1995, Ian Harris reviewed men’s roles on television and came up with the four categories of standard bearers, workers, lovers, and rugged individualists. Rugged individualists are men who engage in dangerous and adventurous acts and athletics (Gendered Worlds, 400). The ridiculous need to prove his manhood after using the body wash is done through these activities. So many of these things are perceived to be me male activities and by having a man perform all of these activities, this commercial only enforces that belief and snowballs it even further.

Despite the commercial being for vaginas, the word is not used once. The company’s slogan is “Hail to the V” and it is used at the end of the advertisement while showcasing their products. During the actual commercial, the letter “v” is used in lieu of saying the word vagina. This is a smart move on Summer’s Eve’s end because what they are talking about is still clear, but by not ever using the word, they are able to avoid the backlash of people claiming that the commercial is inappropriate and offensive. The idea of the word being scandalous and shameful is unfortunate, but if I was pitching the idea for the commercial, I would probably make the same decision. Even if the advertisement does not specifically focus on the products, the point of it is to make people aware of them and they do that effectively and amusingly.

 -L

Works Cited

“Summer’s Eve.” Summer’s Eve. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.

Aulette, Judy Root., and Judith G. Wittner. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford UP, USA, 2012. 397. Print.

Aulette, Judy Root., and Judith G. Wittner. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford UP, USA, 2012. 400. Print.

 

 

 

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Week 11; March 24th-30th Blog Entry #3 (Done by S).

The Boundaries of Beauty; L’Oreal, Can You Be Worth It?

What, or rather who defines beauty? The common, well known phrase ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ suggests that beauty is defined as something different for each person but is it really? Beauty is hegemonic, reflecting the dominant or ruling thoughts found in the confinement of race, gender, sexuality, appearance and being able-bodied. In this way hegemony separates bodies into what is accepted as beautiful despite the vast genetic diversity reflected in the multitude of shapes, sizes and appearances of people. Looking at life experiences and positionalites through an intersectional analysis I will identify and analyze the power of hegemony applied to beauty in L’Oreal’s ‘Beauty for All’ campaign illustrating the deceptive subtleness and social conditioning of these influences to remain practically invisible. 

Week three’s lecture focused on the power of advertising highlighting it’s control over changing perceptions, enforcing ideologies, educating and imparting subconscious material into popular culture. The presentation of Jean Killborn’s video “Killing us Softly” reinforced that the majority of people are unaware of the subtle yet consuming power of advertising imagery. According to Killborn, advertisements have become more aggressive over the last forty years selling more than just the advertised product with the target audience being white women more often than any other recognized group.

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As I watched the L’Oreal ad for the first time I thought finally a company has made a beauty ad aligned with the multicultural diversity of Canada’s population based on the opening images of individuals who are not white (Pearson 85). However, armed with knowledge learned from class, the phenomenon of white privilege and the notion that the ad adheres to whiteness is not apparent to white viewers because hegemonic influences have conditioned members of the dominant race to be oblivious to its existence (White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack – McIntosh). The impact of whiteness in the ad is only revealed when it is viewed through the lens of race acknowledging that nine of the seventeen individuals portrayed are white. The damage inherent in the sublimity of this lies in the ads unequal representation of races combined with a benevolently generated message that L’Oreal offers beauty for all; “whoever, you are, wherever you’re from, beyond all frontiers and cultures…believe[ing] in the power of beauty for each and everyone of us.” L’Oreal sets the white individuals apart from the others identifying them by name and attaching to each a specific life event compared with the unified identity of other racial groups as discussed in week eight’s lecture material. I believe this form of racial construction of hierarchies reinforces notions of superiority and dominance subjected subconsciously into the minds of viewers. Hegemonic influences continue to permeate the ad through the images presented and those omitted with respect to gender and sexuality.

By focusing primarily on women, the ‘Beauty for All’ campaign complies with naturalized gender hierarchies illustrating differential treatment that women are subjected to daily in regards to appearance (Pearson 8). In addition, the women share a connection through the portrayal of distinct feminine qualities; their femininity exacerbated by the attachment of specific female roles including mother, expectant mother and bride. Defined as beautiful according to hegemony, these images of emphasized femininity reflect the media version of womanhood re-calibrating social norms that women are subjected to through advertisement control (Oxford University Press 10).

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Interspersed between the images of the women are five males exuding their masculinity expressed as a muscular torso, a child, where the foundation of gender identification begins and man who portrays his masculine role in a heterosexual relationship. These expressions of culturally revered masculinity known as hegemonic masculinity uses advertising as a source of social, cultural and economic influence to perpetuate the boundaries of beauty (Oxford University Press 10). L’Oreal’s total lack of reference to the gender spectrum reinforces the binary mindset of two genders; male and female, excluding all other identities reinforcing norms of heterosexual relations perpetuating ideas of homophobia as beautiful (Gender Spectrum). Imagery selection highlights the intended target of defined beauty, namely emphasized femininity, hegemonic masculinity, and heterosexuality leaving many individuals within society questioning their positionality as hegemonic boundaries delineate the confines of beauty.

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L’Oreal’s ad reinforces the social response to disability and ableism as discussed in week six lecture. Images of physically attractive, able-bodied individuals with blemish-free skin inundate us daily through multiple media forms establishing parameters of beauty and L’Oreal’s ‘Beauty for All’ campaign is no different. Many individuals find themselves outside these artificially constructed boundaries; the reflection they see daily in the mirror looks nothing like the images in the ad (Tolmie Week 6 Lecture). Reality is a stark contrast to the hegemonic manufactured definition of beauty; people come in all shapes and sizes and lets be honest life isn’t just about physical perfection. Ableism abounds in L’Oreal’s ad even in the image of the woman who appears to be dealing with cancer, whose face does not attest to the wasting effects of the disease on her body. Reinforcing and celebrating the perfection of beauty through appearance and ableism exacerbates the point that hegemonic boundaries exclude the vast majority of the population and may lead to negative associations connected with appearance generating stigmas and stereotypes because many don’t fit the cookie-cutter mold (Pearson 69).

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L’Oreal’s slogan “because I’m worth it” is in many ways false. Analyzing the ‘Beauty for All’ campaign reveals that beauty really is not for all, it’s for individuals who fit the hegemonic standards, adhering to boundaries within race, gender and sexuality, appearance and able-bodiedness. The images portrayed in this ad deceptively overwhelm the subconscious using subliminal advertising to define what beauty is, who is beautiful and how beauty should be classified. In truth this ad is destructive, offering little insight into how beauty should look. Sitting in quite spaces, watching people pass by and embracing the parade of genetic diversity showed me how important it is to break down the boundaries of hegemonic beauty standards and see people not as walking advertisements but as humans who in and of themselves are beautiful.

– S entry. 

Sources Used
– L’Oreal Advertisement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McCUVz-5Ygc&feature=youtu.be
– Tolmie, Jane. “Lecture #.” GNDS 125. Bioscience Auditorium. January – March 2014. Lecture.    
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (McIntosh) Link on Week 2.
Gender Spectrum Link on Week 1. 
– Eitzen D. Stanley, Maxine Baca Zinn, and Kelly Eitzen Smith. Gender, Race, and Popular Culture GNDS 125: Custom Edition for Queen’s University. Toronto: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2014. Print.
– Aulette, Judy Root and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds: Second Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.

Pictures Used
– Picture #1: http://media.edusites.co.uk/images/uploads/music-magazine-collage-495w.jpg
– Picture 2: Screenshot from ad- 0:43/2:00
– Picture 3: Screenshot from ad- 1:08/2:00
– Picture 4: Screenshot from ad- 1:34/2:00
– Picture 5: Screenshot from ad- 1:38/2:00
– Picture 6: Screenshot from ad- 1:23/2:00
– Picture 7: Screenshot from ad- 0:51/2:00 

 

Week 7; February 24th-March 2nd Blog Entry #2 (Done by L).

            “In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex?”  is a film with seventeen short works screened in it that are each no longer than four minutes long. The inspiration for Marc Wisniewski, the curator of the film was to allow members of the LGBT community to represent themselves through digital and video recording. Self-documentation is a new possible way of expression for the directors in the community and because they are the ones making the recordings, they are able to avoid being misrepresented by filmmakers who tend to enforce and contribute to growing LGBT stereotypes. The directors in this film were told to only film with their smartphones and had no official direction or design. The LGBT community is often represented by people who are not members themselves and because of this, they control the depictions of LGBT people in their films. The hope behind In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex? was to give personal control to LGBT members to their representation. Overall, the film opened up new ideas and I was able to better understand the views of labeling, sexual liberty and how sex does not define gender. The LGBT community proves that through expression comes a greater understanding of their views.

            The power of labels, liberty of sex and how people should not be defined by their sex or sexual orientation are all recurring themes throughout the film. One of the clips in this film that was sent in by YouTube sensation Kiley May is entitled “You Are Not Your Genitals”. They used their phone to make a video explaining the difference between a person’s sex, sexuality, and gender. There are many misconceptions about these words and the synonymic use of them is what May was trying to advertise against by informing people of their technical meanings. They describe sex as a physical act as well as the biological anatomy between a person’s legs while heavily emphasizing that sex and gender are not to be used interchangeably. Sex has been defined as a simple categorization between male and female bodies. As mentioned in a lecture by Professor Tolmie “…queerness, anything to do with the gender spectrum, racial diversity or even tolerance” (Twilight & 50 Shades of Grey) are not marketed enough in today’s popular culture. Kiley emphasizes that gender is “between the ears” and that is more important than what is “between the legs”. This view rejects the stereotypical views that gender is based on one’s sex. Instead, he emphasizes the importance of “acquiring ourselves as feminine, masculine or even androgynous” (Burack 3). He also emphasizes the importance of an all-inclusive spectrum. For example, one can feel more masculine one day and more feminine another; gender is never static.

              Furthermore, all clips voiced a battle between the stereotypical viewpoints on sex and the highly disputed novel perspective. The first group clips include Tunnel Vision, My Sex is Genderless, Labels, and Pigeon Hole. As depicted through the titles, all clips expressed the narrow mindedness and limitations that come with labeling others. My Sex is Genderless consisted of two persons making out and touching one another. The way it was filmed made it hard to judge the sexes of both people because it was only filmed the waist up. When I couldn’t determine their sex I realized that labeling comes with the obsession for knowing. By being unable to identify their sex, the labeling that comes with gender or sexual orientation is then diminished, leaving less power towards categorizing sex. These set of films emphasize the need for one to just be themselves without labels, and the only way to start is to first understand the power labels have and take its entitlement of categorizing people away. It is a misunderstanding that “…people tend to think sex as primarily a biological function…biology in only one part of the context of desire” (Auletter 42). This means that a human’s biology does not dictate their sexual desires.

            Ageless, Fucking Butterflies, Take it off, and Creature Probably, all focus on the freedom of sexual expression. The LGBT community in these films express the happiness and pure joy that can come from the freedom to love and be who you want to be. While Creature Probably includes people dancing around with one another having a good time expressing open sexuality while answering the question “What is Your Sex?” The answer as to the identification of one’s sex or gender is insignificant because it is a spectrum and the possibilities are infinite. The main message that was obtained is that happiness comes with freedom of expressing and representing any sex, gender and sexual desires even if they break the boundaries that societal norms build. “As gender variations becomes normalized they become arenas, ‘for playful exploration’ of our possibilities” (Auletter 61) and these possibilities are why people must rethink the basic gender binary. The belief of gender binary should be replaced with the idea of an existing spectrum and that gender is never static.

-L

Works Cited

Auletter, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2012. Print.

Burack, Cynthia. “Gender Socialization.” Gender, Race, & Popular Culture. Canada: Pearson, 2014. 3-6. Print.

Tolmie, Jane. “Twilight & 50 Shades of Grey.” Queen’s University. Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. 4 February 2014. Lecture.  

Winiewski, Marcin. “IN YOUR POCKET: WHAT’S YOUR SEX? SHORTS.” Reelout. http://www.reelout.com/event/7pm-whats-your-sex-shorts/ Accessed Feb 25 2014. 

 

Week 7; February 24th-March 2nd Blog Entry #2 (Done by M).

A Reelout Experience

The Reelout Queer Film and Video Festival put on an interesting display of short films, covering a range of contentious issues about sex and gender, like in the movies “The Reading Salon”, and “You Are Not Your Genitals”. The festival also put on more lighthearted varieties, like “Fucking Butterflies”, which was about exactly that. At the end of the production, students were given the opportunity to ask the filmmakers questions, which was both necessary and useful to the students due to the abstract nature of the films. For this blog, I will review class concepts that these short-films touched upon, namely, the socially constructed nature of society, and notion of sex versus gender.

During the question and answer period, it was revealed that all of the films were made on the camera of an iphone, which was especially ironic in one of my preferred films, called “Obsession”, because the premise of the film was to stereotypically show the online dating persona homosexual people use on cell phone applications like “Grindr”. This film was focused with placing a satirical take on the outrageous descriptions, pictures, and messages the filmmakers often see on this very application. “Obsession”, in contrast to most films on the market today, proved to be unconventional. This is largely because of whom the film was targeted to: whereas most films made today are marketed at bigger demographics, like heterosexual people, “Obsession” was meant to be a humorous movie for the users of applications like “Grindr”. However, in doing so, this movie still, accidently or not, related to heterosexual men and women, because the point of the film was not only to mock the stereotypical profiles of people who use applications like this, but also to stress that these people conform to what they think society expects of them. To put this into perspective, consider the fifth lecture of GNDS125 when we discussed the movie “Twilight”. In “Twilight”, there is an abundance of “whiteness”, “female virginity”, and “heterosexuality”. These are the qualities moviegoers often look for when choosing a movie. This is contrary to the types of films represented at the Reelout Queer Film and Video Festival, particularly, “Obsession”. Overall, “Obsession” points out unacknowledged flaws in society, the fact that most people feel they must conform to a socially constructed standard to be accepted. The irony comes at the end of the movie when the iphone is dropped, and a passerby leans down to pick up the phone for the cameraman. This is ironic because at this point, the two men seem to fall in love, which challenges the online dating application as a legitimate means of meeting “real” people.

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Another film that especially left an impression me was “You Are Not Your Genitals”. This film starts with Kiley May, a self-described “two-spirit, trans, queer and genderqueer human being”. This video is unlike any other video featured at the festival. May breaks the fourth wall immediately, and announces that they (as they clarify trans people should be referred to) are making this video as a response to the question, “what’s your sex?” May believes that they must clarify the difference between sex and gender. “Sex is fucking”, May says, and gender is “not what is in between your legs but your brain, psychology and consciousness”. This relates back to greater class themes of sex vs. gender, and the common misuse of the two. However, as we have learned in class “gender is not inherently connected to one’s physical anatomy”(“Understanding Gender”), it is the “complex interrelationship between those trains and one’s internal sense of self as male, female, both or neither” (“Understanding Gender”). Sadly. Western society sees gender as a binary notion, with two harshly unchanging options of male or female. This is a very contentious issue, as gender-ambiguous supporters advocate for equal treatment of all people, which would include public washrooms for gender-ambiguous people, and official recognition of their choices. This has yet to be seen in a liberal society that claims to be progressive. Overall, during their brief video, May was able to hammer home the point that “you are not your genitals”.
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The Reelout Queer Film and Video Festival presented a unique opportunity to discover new genres of film not represented at your average movie theatre. The Festival exceeded my expectations, because I have not attended anything like that before at Queen’s University. I was surprised to hear that Reelout tradition has been going on for fifteen years, and has expanded into schools, specializing in “diversity and gender diversity education” (“Reelout”). One thing I mentioned that I especially enjoyed was the question and answer period, in which the students had the opportunity to learn some of the inspiration behind these films. While some of the films were for humor and entertainment, others had deep meaning behind them. Overall, the Reelout Festival opened my eyes to the diverse groups that Queen’s has to offer.

– M

“Understanding Gender.” Gender Spectrum. N.p.. Web. 28 Feb 2014. <https://www.genderspectrum.org/understanding-gender&gt;.

“Introduction.” Reelout Arts Project Inc. . N.p.. Web. 28 Feb 2014. <http://www.reelout.com/about/introduction/&gt;.