Sex and Media
Fieldof Study: Sex and Media
1. Shoppingcentres can be seen as âwomenâs spacesâ some havesuggested. What characteristics of (raced, classed) femininity arebeing mobilised or suggested in the spaces of Chadstone? (Draw onrelevant literature regarding âfemininityâ).Chadstonemall is the biggest shopping mall in Australia. It is located in thesuburban area of Malvern East in Melbourne. As a shoppingdestination, it offers many shopping outlets ranging from foodeateries, coffee shops, super markets, banks, cinemas and otherstores. The mall which offers 129,924m2 of shop floorspace receives about 68 000 visitors daily during peak shoppingseasons. The mall is also an interesting case study of how itpositions itself to attract female shoppers with knowledge thatshopping has traditionally been perceived as a woman’s affair. Themall’s website itself says it all with female jewellery and imagesnews dominating the homepage. The use of female objectification toappeal to both sexes and promote a media-constructed image of themodern woman is evident.
The mall’stagline, “The fashion Capital” is strategically targeted atwomen. The reason being that women as perceived as being moreattracted to fashion and trendy stuff compared to men. The storeoffers a number of ‘only’ women outlets such as hair salons andspecial spaces within the larger stores that specifically targetwomen. David Jones store for instance offers special place for womenwhere they can buy lingerie. There are trained fitters for lingeriethat assist shoppers in choosing the best fit in their lingerie. Thiskind of assistance is emphasized on shopping for bras. This equatesto a decoy to lure women shoppers to their special space (Jackson,Rowlands & Miller, 2005). The space where they can feel as queenand be served by experts in making decisions. This idea is meant tomake women feel empowered. Schneider (1997) says that ads target aspecific aspect on the human psychology such as confidence,empowerment, sexuality status and such.
Individual storesat Chadstone have emphasized on female sexuality and femininity tomarket their products and outlets. This compares very well with thecontemporary depiction of femininity and female sexuality incontemporary media. There is more and more skin to show regardlessfor women on imagery advertising different products and servicesranging from travel agents to lingerie. It is interesting to notethat sexualization of the female body and portrayal of theappropriate body shape and hair are applied in marketing and sellingalmost all products both targeting males and females. Some of theseproducts are even unrelated to female consumers but the female bodyis used as an object of attraction to attract male consumers. Withmajority of these images being semi-nude, Johnston (2006) calls itlack of respect for morals and corporate pedophile behavior as theimages are unsuitable for young children.
On a larger scalethe shopping mall’s tagline markets the place as the ideal placefor women. By declaring the mall as the fashion capital, it impliesthat the shopping mall is the capital for women. This is based on theshifting media construction of feminisms. The modern woman is nolonger displayed as the working and empowered woman only but also aneducated independent woman with financial empowerment and a fashionsense (Gill 2007). While fashion has often been displayed as a topcelebrity thing, the fashion capital is offering middle incomeshoppers to move into the fashionable category by simply shopping atthe mall.
Chadstone doesnot offer racial variation in its positioning and marketing toreflect the national composition of Australian women. The brandsoffered at the main center mainly target wealthy Australian whitesand tourists. This narrow approach into the Australian market doesnot portray the mall as a common place for every other femaleshopper. The narrowed targeting of the mall which also happens tohouse several travel agencies shows that the fashion capital is notfor everyone. Aboriginal representation is generally lacking withonly a few representation such as sale of aboriginal art.
2. Gill mentionsthe increasing visibility of male bodies in contemporary advertisingand in public spaces. Drawing on your observations at Chadstone, whatforms of masculinity are being presented in this contemporaryshopping space? How are menâs bodies âsexualisedâ (ifthey are) compared to womenâ
The presence ofmasculinity or ‘manness’ has increased in the media over theyears. This presence also shows a shifting definition of masculinityby the media over the years. The media at the Chadstone captures thisnew representation of masculinity in various ways. One of them isthat the store offers a number of specialized spaces mean for men.There are several executive men’s clothing stores that dealexclusively with male wear. Another space targeted for men only arebarbershops at the center. In the same manner as spaces targetingwomen, these masculine spaces promise a suitable atmosphere suitablefor men. They include and not limited to company of fellow men andexclusivity. These outlets at the mall use imagery that targets men.
The shiftingdisplay of masculinity a few years ago glorified the straight man.Today, the depiction of masculinity in the media has scaled down onbeing straight as posited by the hegemonic theory and in essencescaled down on homohysteria. The idea of men being sexual objects towomen only is slowly shifting to accommodate a more inclusivesexualization of the male body that targets both males and females.However, this is not achieved in explicit manners. It is simplyportrayed as a shift from the brute male to a softer ‘sexy’ male.
Anderson () saysthat there is an obvious shift from the man of before to the modernman of today as portrayed by the media. This is motivated by thecommon knowledge that homosexuality is a fact and has grown over theyears. The sexualization of men in that regards has sort to strike asimple balance between objectification of the male body to appeal tothe female fraternity without offending the heterosexual males ordepicting the politically sensitive aspect of homosexuality. This hascomplicated the increased use of male objectification in the mediafor advertising other purposes. However, there is a clear line on thecontext and place of male objectification in the media (Railton &Watson, 2014). It is easy to observe that in the case of Chadstonemall media use, approximately 95% of all the objectification casesobserved during the involved women. For the little usage of maleobjectification, the use was mainly limited to inner wear.
Body hair ismajor actor in the sexualization of the male body. While is itseemingly ungodly for a woman’s body to have hair to have anysexual appeal, the same is being transferred on men. The metrosexualman is depicted as neat, fashion sensitive, modern, has an athleticbody and most importantly have abs or the ‘six pack.’ In somecases it is oiled for the special effects. A good example is a hugeEmporio Armani poster of the world famous footballer, CristianoRonaldo, at the Emporio Armani store at Chadstone where the man in isbriefs and the body is clean shaven, rugged and oiled. Where bodyhair is used in the media and imagery, it is largely used for comicpurposes except in very rare occasions. A commonly cited case is thatof “savage” appearance of Jason Momoa in Game of Thrones. Thiscannot be said of the same of the star, Austin, in Austin Powersfilms. This variation is absent in the case of sexualization of womenwhere body hair is a no-go zone. Scheidner (1997) says this is nocoincidence but rather a carefully planned strategy to create apreconceived image to draw a specific response.
Anderson, E.(2012). Shifting Masculinities in Anglo-American Countries.Masculinities and
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Chadstone. (2014). Retrieved onlinefrom http://www.chadstone.com.au/
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