This 2014 advertisement for GoldieBlox, a company that makes engineering toys for girls, seeks to encourage more girls to go into engineering and related fields, as opposed to only focusing on playing as or becoming “princesses.” The video opens with a girl wearing a white lab coat and butterfly wings over a lavender dress, holding a frying pan and egg, saying, “this is your brain.” She puts the egg on a conveyer belt and the egg travels past a scene with vanity counters and makeup chairs in the background. Her voice says, “this is your brain on princess,” and the egg pauses and is “made up,” with eye shadow, eyelashes, blush, lipstick, a wig, highlights, and a tiara. The made up egg then continues to travel along the conveyer belt past a post it note with a message on it: “at age 7, girls begin to lose confidence in math and science,” and then moves past another note, “at age 13, over half of all girls are unhappy with their bodies.” The egg then falls off the conveyer belt. As the egg slowly falls, the girl’s voice is heard saying, “This is your brain on engineering,” right as the falling egg is caught by a basket on a small Ferris wheel with another note on it: “engineering jobs are growing faster than all other jobs in the U.S.” The egg travels through the Ferris wheel and up an elaborate zip line and mini rollercoaster, passing another note, “female engineers earn 33% more than women in other fields,” and “only 13% of engineers are women.” The egg’s journey ends as it disappears into a small building, where there is a cracking sound and a baby chick appears through the open door, next to another post it note that reads: “girls are more than just princesses…they are our greatest resource.” The girl from the beginning of the commercial is seated nearby, picks up the chick, and asks, “any questions?”
This is a speech given by British Actress Helen Mirren at The Hollywood Reporter’s “Women in Entertainment” breakfast in 2010, where she was the recipient of the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award. Her audience was female producers, writers and directors, many of whom mentor younger women. She expresses frustration at women being limited by socially prescribed gender roles, saying “Aren’t you sick of being told what you can and can’t do?” Aside from mentorship, Mirren argues for the importance of economic independence in securing power for women. Quoting numbers that demonstrate the immense buying power of women, she is upset that Hollywood “continues to pander to the 18-25 year old male and his penis.”
As a marketing strategy, Hornet Signs, an automobile sign and decal company in Waco, Texas, placed an image on the tailgate of a truck that gave the appearance that there was a rope-bound (hands and feet) blond woman wearing a pink shirt and jeans lying tied up in the bed of the truck. The truck was driven around town to advertise and attract business for the company.
This 2014 short film made and released by The Guardian, a British news outlet, shows Guardian editor Harriet Gibsone satirically listing the ways one can become a famous female pop star in order to highlight pressing issues pertaining to women and gender inequality, such as overt sexual objectification, male domination, limited feminism discussions, pay inequality, and ageism. Gibsone presents her argument in a serious tone, although the picture inserts and sound effects are comedic. In suggesting absurd things such as using a “man to help you pen a song about your body” to create a “defining” song, or “going on Twitter and slag someone off…ideally another woman,” Gibsone uses sarcasm to criticize the overt emphasis on the hyper-sexualization of the female body and the woman-eat-woman mentality emphasized in the public realm when it comes to female celebrities and pop stars. Through this satirical video, she is not actually telling viewers to do these things; she is pointing out and discussing a culture that promotes this behavior. Although this video was originally made for British audiences, viewers around the world are prompted to consider pop stars in their countries and compare these themes of confining gender roles and the “recipe for success” outlined in the video.
This video uses contrasting shots to show what it would look like if men were asked to play the same kinds of hypersexualized and objectifying roles women are asked to portray in advertisements. For each commercial featured in this video, men are placed in the same positions and roles as the women in the original commercials, and the images are framed side-by-side or back-to-back for comparison. For example, one of the commercials is fast food chain Hardees and Carl’s Jrs.’s charbroiled Atlantic cod fish sandwich ad, which features an attractive female model eating the sandwich in a string bikini on a tropical beach. She poses suggestively as she eats the sandwich, and there are several close-up shots of various parts of her body, including scenes of her spraying herself down with tanning oil in the heat. Each suggestive pose and action is mimicked in a side-by-side comparison with a similarly dressed man posing, eating, and spraying himself down in the same ways, with the same beach background. The video is meant to point out the discomfort, humor, or ridiculousness we see in portraying men in this kind of hypersexualized and objectifying way, and prompts viewers to consider why it is “normal” and acceptable that women are so frequently represented this way in ads and media. With the tagline “more than a piece of meat,” this video was published in 2014 and created by BuzzFeed, a media, news, entertainment, and reporting website that crafts content that can be easily shared and spread through social media.