Advertising industry has perhaps the single biggest impact after films on the society. It is counted as one of the premier cultural forces in modern society.
The advertising industry as a whole has been subject to controversy over the ethics of propagating factual veracity of its contents, sex and gender partrayals, aesthetic values and its fall out on society(Sharda Prasad: 14).
The particular degrading nature of many advertising images of women is well documented in many studies. There is no doubt that in an audio visual medium like television, an advertisement boosts its impact through repeated telecasts.
Commercial television has today emerged as the premier advertising medium. Women are featured in TV commercials as most solicited consumers and as instruments of persuasion.
Women in advertisements are also shown in relation to domestic work. In reality, women’s role is changing in the society but advertisements show them basically as a housewife by showing them in the advertisements of gas, pressure cookers, grinders, washing soaps, kitchen appliances, ready-to-make food packets. The housewife is shown in a glamourized role.
Gupta and Jain (1997) pointed out that the message that one gets from advertisements is that women seek happiness and fulfillment out of their cooking and cleaning accomplishments.
The commercials also reinforce the traditional division of labour despite the fact that in real terms such a division is not stringently practiced. Where activities beyond their homes, they are invariably shown concerned about their primary concern managing the household and looking after the family.
The world of commercials makes it appear very natural for women to have comfortably adjusted in both the roles at home and at work place.
Many advertisements of household appliances claim that these appliances will take the work out of the household and guarantee what they call ‘true liberation’ of women. There advertisements depict the life of urban women only and rural women are ignored.
Young girls in advertisements are shown mostly beautifying themselves or trying to catch male attention. This negatively enhances her image in the society. Advertisements of cosmetics give an excuse to exploit the women’s body and sell a false belief.
The woman’s body is used as a medium to display goods such as fabrics. The texture of the fabric is being equated with the sensuality of the women’s body. Such advertisements degrade the woman as a sensuous object only. Beauty is equated with glamour ignoring the qualitative aspects like intelligence, maturity and wisdom.
Women are used for selling even when they are not required for the product such as showing cream, or shaving blade or cologne.
Working women in advertisements are shown holding lower jobs such as of typist, receptionist, or a secretary to a male boss. In most of the advertisements men are shown as reassuring authorities and dispensers of expert advices while women are shown as looking up to made advice.
Even the print media, which has undergone many changes due to technological advancement, now shows colorful advertisement on glossy pages. These advertisements also reflect the similar trend of emphasizing sexuality of women and greater emphasis on woman’s body and beauty.