For the past several weeks, this ad has been popping up in my facebook sidebar:

This ad would imply that, whoever you are, you’re not pretty enough to get engaged. I mean, why would I need a “pre-engagement makeover” to whiten my teeth, to loose weight, or to care for my skin? If my boyfriend/pre-fiance wanted to marry me, it shouldn’t be for white teeth, should it?

But this promotes what Chapter 7 says about romantic relationships: “women link sex with emotional involvement while men associate it primarily with physical involvement” (p. 181). (For my argument, I’m equating sex with engagement, because even if you aren’t “waiting for marriage” then engagement means sex will happen soon.) So while a woman may be emotionally, mentally, or spiritually attached to her significant other, chapter 7 indicates that men are more apt to only be physically attached.

And that’s where this advertisement wins: it buys into the idea that the woman needs to be physically pleasing to her significant other before “engagement” (or sex, perhaps), so that the man and woman can be closer and more intimate.

The idea that the woman should change her physical appearance to please her man also buys into idea that women are “in charge of taking care of the relationship,” (p.180) because, in this ad, it becomes the woman’s duty to look good. If she doesn’t, as the ad so subtly implies, she may not get engaged.

SOURCES: Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

In the ever-popular xkcd webcomic (which is actually done by a CNU grad), there is one comic that came out recently which displays fathers as a more deviant playmate, as well as demonstrates different power roles in families.

See “Parental Trolling here.

First, we see a daughter trying to elevate herself above her father. She says, “SO lame. You guys SUCKED at pranks.” This is a kind of coercive power (p.206). She doesn’t necessarily threaten him physically, nor does she have the ability to punish him, but she does attempt to “psychologically” insult him, elevating herself. (This seems like it would much more a dude thing than a chick thing, but we’re not getting into that gender debate.)

To counter her, however, the father reveals that he “once raised a kid with conditioning so her speech centers shut down when she was upset.” In the very next panel, the girl begins to speak nonsense and the father giggles; we see that he had really conditioned her, and that the prank was on her. (Guess father wasn’t so lame after all.) But this is a display of legitimate power: he is “in a position to exert influence” as father. His influence, however, was the prank of conditioning her speech centers to shut down when she became upset.

In this comic, power was turned on it’s head. It is perhaps not the best example of legitimate power (and especially not coercive power), but it sets a template for the kind of power parents should have over know-it-all teenagers.

SOURCES: Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
xkcd. (2009, April 24). Parental Trolling. Message posted to http://xkcd.com/573/

Calvin and Hobbes is one of my favorite comics to read. There are many different gendered components to the comic (when looking at it through our textbook’s lens), but the comic I want to focus on this time is Golf As A Contact Sport:


(I found this picture by googling “Calvin and Hobbes.” I don’t know how to cite this.)

While there is a lot I could say about friendship from this comic, I want to focus on their specifically male version of golf: they’ve made it into a contact sport.

Chapter 3 says that men are more likely to engage in agonism, a “warlike, oppositional strategy of ritual opposition and nonliteral fighting” (p.64). It also says that men enjoy competing with each other, men bond by exchanging playful insults and put-downs, and regularly play competitive games (p.64).

This, of course, is generally Calvin and Hobbes in a nutshell. The two are constantly in a state of competing in Calvinball (or other related sports), or picking on girls, or getting in trouble. This comic in particular accurately depicts boys’ playfulness through ‘oppositional strategy’ and ‘nonliteral fighting’ in competitive golf.

SOURCES: Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

There was a skit performed at Winterfest 2006 to a song that I love very much. The song reflects a slightly Calvinist view of the Christian Gospel, but it also demonstrates Charles Cooley’s Reflected Appraisal Theory.


View the skit here.

Cooley says that Reflected Appraisal Theory shows our “looking-glass self [that] we derive from our contacts with others and then project into our future experiences” (p.44).

In this skit, there are several “burdens” that separate the girl from Jesus: a man (lust), money (greed), alcohol (drunkenness/lack of self-control), beauty (vanity), and death (suicide). When the girl interacts with each of them, each leave their mark on her and she becomes lustful, greedy, drunk, dissatisfied with her appearance, and attempts to kill herself, because each of them attempted to persuade her into physical (harmful) realizations about herself.

The Christian backdrop to this says that the world exposes individuals to physical dissatisfaction, and that you don’t truly need money, relationships, liquor or physical beauty to be satisfied and that suicide is not the solution. But from the perspective of Cooley’s Reflected Appraisal Theory, the girl in the skit saw qualities in herself because of other people; it almost led to her death. Reflected Appraisal Theory, however, does not always display/reveal negative qualities; this skit is just an example of a few extremes.

SOURCES: Lifehouse’s Everything Skit. (2006). Retrieved April 26, 2009, fromhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyheJ480LYA
Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

“Man Men,” taking place in a 1960’s advertising company, is one of my favorite shows to watch. There could be limitless cases of gendered interactions (both conforming and defying), but the one I want to focus on this time is a particular interaction between Peggy Olsen and Pete Campbell.

View the video here.

In this scene, Pete tries to get information out of Peggy, and when she is professional and does her job by appropriately directing him, he condones her as a “busy beaver,” and “Mr. Protocol.” When she does not comply with his wishes, he asks what is wrong with her and tells her she is being unprofessional.

Chapter 10 tells us that “men assume higher-level positions of authority” (p.264). Pete Campbell is clearly in a higher position in the office than Peggy, but she has information that he wants and that she will not give to him. He resorts to calling her names and firmly grabs her arm. But perhaps he feels he can get what he wants out of her because they had already had sex, which is referenced near the end of this scene. Bargh, Raymond, Pryor, and Stack all claim that “the notions of power and sexuality are inextricably linked” (p.279), so even though Pete Campbell isn’t told information, he feels obligated to get it from Peggy because they had had sex.

SOURCES: Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Mad Men [Television program]. (2007). American Movie Classics. Retrieved April 25, 2009, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2Lw7iS21rs

A few years ago, Alan Cumming, actor, released “Cumming the Fragrance,” named after himself. While it isn’t usual to see a male celebrity (actor, musician, etc.) release a cologne, Alan Cumming’s particular ad campaign is extraordinary.

View his official video here. See the website for his fragrance here.

Even though Cumming is clearly wearing eye makeup in his commercial, and even though his website depicts black and white glamour shots (often nude), Cummings is marketing himself like a woman.

In looking at his commercial, visually we see him getting undressed, rolling around in a bed with no shirt, and Cumming making frequent eye contact with the camera (with us) or laughing. Chapter 4’s descriptions of nonverbal communication claim “women look more at others faces and make more eye contact” than men (p.98). Women also display more “immediacy behaviors,” such as leaning forward, head tilting, and direct body orientation (p.99). Though I am describing female nonverbal communication, it is also directly applied to Cumming in his commercial.

I’ve followed Cumming in his movies for some time, and was extremely excited when he became an X-man, but seeing him advertise himself like a woman was a little shocking and completely defied his masculine stereotype (especially in advertising).

SOURCES: Cumming, A. (n.d.). Cumming The Fragrance. Retrieved April 25, 2009, from
http://www.cummingthefragrance.com

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Chapter 13 asserts that “ads continue to portray men as sex objects” (p.354) and that women in advertising are “portrayed as passive” and wearing “sleepwear, underwear, or lingerie more than they wear work attire,” and that women “serve men and boys” (p.353). With these stereotypes in mind, the sexual prowess of men and the domination of women are amplified in a Dolce & Gabbana advertisement:

In this ad, a man has pinned down a scantily clad (but makeup-perfect) woman, while other men stand around watching. This woman appears to be resisting a little bit (she certainly doesn’t look happy), while the men are clearly dominating her.

While this ad has an exclusive sexual/power appeal, it amplifies the dominant men and the passive woman-object.

SOURCES: Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Brahna Sigelberg wrote a compellingly gendered response to this month’s Vogue feature article ‘Real Women Have Curves.’ Sigelberg’s article can be found here. The best summary quote from this article reads,

“efforts to display “real” women aren’t attempts to portray them as equally sexually appealing, but rather as women who fail to uphold to what society has come to accept as the ideal for feminine beauty. The “real” woman category is one that only reinforces a sense of otherness, and maintains that there is indeed a very tangible ideal of beauty–one that that these women simply have not met” (Sigelberg, 2009).

Chapter 13 concedes that young women’s magazines tend to focus on appearance and personality where others make changes in the way women are described and presented by defying traditional female roles (p.364). Vogue isn’t targeting young people, so the idea of having an article saying “Real Women Have Curves” would seem like an attempt to make women feel better about themselves. However, focusing on the body is still a focus on appearance, and reminisces of women as sex-objects.

And Sigelberg agrees. Her entire response article reminds Vogue that their article still focuses on appearance in a world where female appearance matters more than (I think) should. While trying to “break” a gendered stereotype, Vogue reinforces it yet again.

SOURCES: Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Sigelberg, B. (2009, March/April 21). POP RHETORIC: Real Women Aren’t In Vogue [Editorial]. The McGill Tribune. Retrieved April 20, 2009, from http://media.www.mcgilltribune.com/media/storage/paper234/news/2009/03/24/AE/Pop-Rhetoric.Real.Women.Arent.In.Vogue-3680280.shtml

On March 18, 2007, The NY Times posted an article about female soldiers and their experiences in the service. The article can be viewed here.

This article is very long and is difficult to read at times. It is divided into five distinct sections, profiling several women and their various experiences working in the service, many of which involve rape.

The story opens with Suzanne Swift, an officer who went AWOL when she found out she would have to serve a second tour in Iraq.

“…the reason she did not report for deployment was that she had been sexually harassed repeatedly by three of her supervisors throughout her military service: beginning in Kuwait; through much of her time in Iraq; and following her return to Fort Lewis. She claimed too to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, a highly debilitating condition brought on by an abnormal amount of stress” (Corbett, 2007).

Many stories in this article are similar to Swift’s, depicting young female officers being harassed, raped, and propositioned by male superiors and peers.

In chapter 10, Shere Hite says it is “natural for men and women to become attracted and fall in love through work,” (p. 283), but “The Women’s War” defends that this is rarely true in combat situations.

The idea that “the notions of power and sexuality are inextricably linked” (p. 279) is the largest theme throughout this article. Almost every women profiled in “The Women’s War” was propositioned for sex.

“Many of the women… said they felt the burden of having to represent their sex – to defy stereotypes about women somehow being too weak for military duty in a war zone by displaying more resiliency and showing less emotion than they otherwise might. …Most reported that they avoided friendships with other women… because of the fact that there were fewer women to choose from and… because of the ridicule that came with having a close friend. ”You’re one of three things in the military – a bitch, a whore or a dyke,” says Abbie Pickett, who is 24 and a combat-support specialist with the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

Many women mentioned being the subject of crass jokes told by male soldiers. Some said that they used sarcasm to deflect the attention but that privately the ridicule wore them down. Others described warding off sexual advances again and again. ”They basically assume that because you’re a girl in the Army, you’re obligated to have sex with them,” Suzanne Swift told me at one point” (Corbett, 2007).

“The Women’s War” presents an interesting study that confirms several stereotypes about women in the workforce, but completely obliterates Hite’s theory of natural romance at work.

SOURCES: Corbett, S. (2007, March 18). The Women’s War. NY Times. Retrieved April 20, 2009, from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/18/magazine/18cover.html?_r=2&scp=9&sq=the+women%27s+war&st=nyt&oref=slogin
Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Where Chapter 13 discusses gendered violence and male dominance in music, Sufjan Steven’s 2005 album “Come On, Feel The Illinoise!” discusses the same stereotypes but in the eye of realistic human experience.. The songs can be previewed/streamed through Amazon.com.

Though this album is written, performed, and produced by a male artist (as chapter 13 claims most music is) (p.370), it does not once depict women as sex objects or slaves, does not portray women as dependent on men, and does not depict sexual violence.

Two songs on this album that come to mind are John Wayne Gacey, Jr., about a serial killer, and Casimir Pulaski Day, about a girl with bone cancer.

In John Wayne Gacey, Jr. the lyrics borderline creepy with descriptions such as

“He dressed up like a clown for them/With his face paint white and red,/And on his best behavior/In a dark room on the bed he kissed them all./He’d kill ten thousand people/With a sleight of his hand/Running far, running fast to the dead” (Stevens, 2005).

Though creepy about about killing many people, the song concludes with

“And in my best behavior/I am really just like him./Look beneath the floorboards/For the secrets I have hid” (Stevens, 2005).

Though it is a man relating to a serial killer, he is relating more to the secrets hidden, which is a less tangible, more relate-able, and human part of life.

In Casimir Pulaski Day, Stevens writes about a girl he loves that is dying of bone cancer. In this song, within several lines, he borderlines two subjects that chapter 13 claims are prominent in songs: sex and women are more fearful (p. 370):

“I remember at Michael’s house/In the living room when you kissed my neck/And I almost touched your blouse,
In the morning at the top of the stairs/When your father found out what we did that night/And you told me you were scared” (Stevens, 2005).

In these lines, physical intimacy almost happens, but doesn’t, and we find that the girl is afraid, likely because she has cancer and knows she is going to die.

While Stevens writes about things that the “gendered violence and music videos” part of our text says are most prominent in songs, I see Stevens’ songs as being situationally realistic of an un-mediated existence: there is human violence (John Wayne Gacy, Jr.), but he relates having secrets as part of being human; there is human sexuality (Casimir Pulaski Day), but is gentle, restrained, and out of love; and there are frightened girls (Casimir Pulaski Day), but is because of eminent death.

SOURCES: Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Company.
Stevens, S. (2005). Casimir Pulaski Day. On Come On, Feel The Illinoise! [CD]. Holland, Michigan: Asthmatic Kitty.
Stevens, S. (2005). John Wayne Gacy, Jr. On Come On, Feel The Illinoise! [CD]. Holland, Michigan: Asthmatic Kitty.