Target Women and the Woman Question

Women have been in the media a lot lately, and the reproductive health controversy is sparking debates about ethics, morals, and the female body itself. Honestly, it reminds me of the Victorian England “Woman Question,” that I have discussed a bit previously.

This type of rhetoric and debate about the physical uterus and its “proper place” has been an underlying current in Western society since gender roles were invented. Yes, they were invented, and they are still being solidified, broken down, and rebuilt through everything we participate in: conversations, news broadcasts, advertisements, and media.

In a bizarre turn of fate, Rush Limbaugh recently decided to (continue) to be an outspoken anti-women and anti-choice bully, and jump started this already prominent conversation in politics and social media. However, his subsequent scapegoat status does not solve the problem of gender biases, inequality, and a continuation of gender role alignment with heteronormative morality. In other words, the sexist beast that shadows our culture is still out there. It has been there for years, but perhaps Lumbaugh’s latest line crossing remarks have finally made a larger audience aware of its existence.

His recent derogatory comments have drawn attention to our binary gender system- have we really changed our beliefs about gender so little since the Victorian period. Well, many prominent men and women still very much prescribe to the Victorian gender binary, and all of its moralistic connotations. A very specific, gendered brand of moralist rhetoric is still continuously permeating our culture, belief systems, and feelings about what women (and men, their supposed “opposites”) “should” or “should not” be.

Rhetorical analysis is fun, right?

For those of you interested in gender and the way it seeps into every part of our daily lives, you should check out the hilarious Sarah Haskins from Current  Media. She humorously analyzes advertisements geared toward a pretty large target audience: Women.

Although these videos are a bit older now, you can see many similar advertisements focused on “women” if you turn on your television, Hulu, or YouTube. By the way, for you educators out there, this is also a great tool to teach rhetorical analysis, and also to teach audience consideration, advertising, and a host of other possibilities for older students.

I like Haskins’ approach because she is funny, relatable, and because she points out just how absurd some of the underlying assumptions about women that these advertisements derive from.

Have you seen her segment before? What do you think we can learn from Haskins and the recent media attention about Women and their reproductive organs?


Miss E


17 comments on “Target Women and the Woman Question

  1. theresabonner says:

    She’s my favorite combination combination! Smart and funny. Thanks for posting.

  2. babso2you says:

    After reading this blog I was reminded of a book I read years ago. The name: “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women.” The book was written by Susan Faludi. An interesting read on women and gender bias.

  3. Jennifer Lynn Krohn says:

    I love Sarah Haskins. She may be the cause of my internet review addiction.

    Speaking of which, have you seen Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency? She does a wonderful analysis of how toys, in particular logos, are marketed to boys and girls. She also taught me about the Bechdel test.

  4. Beverly says:

    The yogurt clips were hilarious. As a non yogurt eater who doesn’t watch much television, I guess I was oblivious (although I had seen the Jamie Lee Curtis ones). But I think it’s very important to step back and see what the advertising world is doing. I read the Hidden Persuaders many years ago, and enjoyed that.

    Interesting blog.

  5. I just had to comment because I loved watching the Sarah Haskins Target Women clip. A friend showed it to me a while back and I was laughing at the absurdity she reveals in those commercials. Who does serve yogurt at a wedding? 🙂

  6. julibre says:

    According to Ajurvedic medicine any dairy product (including yoghurt) should be avoided because it forms mucus in the digestive tract and potentially leads to health problems. If that is true women (and men) who consume a lot of yoghurt (or other dairy products) actually get worse while thinking that they do good for their health and/or weight. The same goes for fat free and sugar free products, for slightly different reasons. But that’s a topic for another day – or blog. I like your writing. Thanks for blogging 🙂

  7. CMRock says:

    Sarah Haskin’s Target Women were a big part of a final I wrote for a Women & Media class. She’s spot on and so is your post!

  8. TheLushNest says:

    What a great video! I love how she points out the absurdity of it all… Really funny! 🙂

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