Sunday, 31 October 2010

How does Calvin Klein represent females in the above advert? Are they objectified or sexually empowered?

Calvin Klein could be seen as representing females in a number of ways with this advert. Initially you can see Laura Mulvey's idea of the male gaze simply because we are seeing an idealized woman; we as females think this is what men expect their 'perfect' woman to look like. Another thing that links with this is that the emphasis is predominantly on her body and of course the underwear advertised, whereas stereotypically women focus on faces; so you could argue that the advert is mainly for men, even though it is a woman’s product being advertised. Another thing you notice is that her hair is damp and her body is most probably oiled up to create a look of being wet which if we look further into it makes us think she has just got out the shower. Adding this to what she is wearing suggests she is likely to be going out, more likely in the evening to a party or on a date because her underwear isn’t exactly ‘casual’. We deduce that she is unlikely to be going out alone, and that in fact she is probably going out with a man. This sends the message to those who see the advert that Calvin Klein is associated with people who attract the opposite sex and possibly means women would aspire to be like this and buy Calvin Klein underwear to get a man.

You can also pick out other things deemed to appeal to men. She’s wearing high heels which make her legs look slimmer, and also she is wearing suspenders which are associated with sexiness, yet the ones she’s wearing are tasteful because they are plain and stylish and black which can be seen as a sexy colour. Her hands placed on her hips draw attention to the underwear advertised and also a certain region that would appeal to men. On her hands we also see no wedding or engagement ring, showing that she’s available.

However, you can also clearly see how this could be taken as sexually empowering for women. For example; even though the lack of wedding ring shows availability, it also shows independence and suggests she doesn’t need a man in her life to be successful. Her stance in itself is powerful; she has her legs apart which is a dominant, more masculine pose. It is also a low angle shot, so we are looking up at her, which again shows dominance. Although the hands on hips draws attention to where men would look the actual positioning shows an attitude that could be more threatening than inviting. Looking at her face we see that the look is reminiscent mostly of Trevor Millum’s seductive pose and the Marjorie Ferguson’s invitational or romantic/sexual poses. Her head is turned away from the camera and her eyes are closed which add a sense of mystery to her; making her seem superior to the male viewer. This also keeps the attention on the product advertised. Looking at her bra, we see that it is quite a basic, plain one, and with it being black as well, it could be classed as masculine; which once again shows how she is empowered. Finally looking at the Calvin Klein logo, we see it is positioned behind her, showing superiority. This tells us that Calvin Klein is promoting the idea that if you wear their products you too could be a powerful attractive woman like Eva Mendes. On the other hand, it is also positioned around the area that they are trying to draw men’s eye-line to, so you could see it as them objectifying her instead.

Overall,  I think Calvin Klein are just trying to market the product to both genders, which is why although there is some possible objectifying of women with the fact that she is wearing very little and is essentially an idealised woman, that men would most definitely be attracted to. This could encourage men to buy the underwear because they want their partners to emulate this woman. This links to Laura Mulvey’s suggestion of how men look at women. Similarly, women would see this advert and want to be as much like this woman as possible, and would compare themselves to her- again like Laura Mulvey’s male gaze theory in how women view other women. It empowers women because of the power we can see and how she clearly is in control. Women would aspire to be like her, so would ideally go out and buy Calvin Klein underwear to achieve this.

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