The Objectification of Women in Advertising: What are the Affects on Society ?

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The Objectification of Women in Advertising: What are the Affects on Society ?

Modern Advertising is an annual multi-billion Dollar business in America. Advertising is everywhere - in magazines, on television, in movie theaters, on countless web pages, on busses, in subways and on milk-cartons. In fact, advertisements are so common in our times that we don't even realize we are looking at them anymore. They invade not only our mailboxes, but our minds and in doing so, they contribute to the image we shape of women in our culture. The debate, whether the portrayal of women in advertising is a serious or overrated issue, has been ongoing for quite some time and the final answer may never be found. Does the objectification of women in advertising have an adverse affect on society? Is there more violence against women as a result of these images? Are women being exploited? Are we simply looking at their bodies and not their minds? Many opinions are available on these subjects and some studies have been conducted.

Rebecca Zarchikoff has compiled results of various studies on these and related subjects on her website titled, "Looking Through the Years at Women's Place in Advertising", reaching as far back as 1971 ( She claims that the average American watches about "37.5 hours of television per week, which translates into approximately 1856 hours per year." With an "average of 714 commercials per week", the viewer would be exposed to approximately "37,000 ads per year", on television alone.

Jean Kilbourne, probably the best-known advocate of raising awareness about the exploitation of women in advertising, claims that, "we are exposed to over 2000 ads a day, constituting perhaps the most powerful educational force in society (194)." If that number is correct, we would view as many as 730,000 ads...