Friday, September 18, 2009

Gender Role Behaviors and Attitudes

Study a popular magazine such as Elle, Rolling Stone, or Maxim for advertisements depicting men and women interacting with each other. In about 150 words, interpret the body postures of the models, using Devor's essay as the framework for your analysis. How do males and females typically stand? To what extent do the models enact stereotypically masculine or feminine stances?


  1. I have to say that i see exactly what the writer is talking about. The women in these photos are showing lots of skin, they are in sexy poses which is obviously attractive to men, and they are doing almost all the things the writer is saying they will do. I also notice that in a picture with a man and a women the woman is either seducing the man or she is subordinate to him i.e. she is lower than him, her size difference is emphasized, or he is doing something manly and she is there supporting him. I never really thought about that stuff until it was mentioned in this little article. It is profound to me now.

    I also notice that all the males are doing something perceived as masculine in every photo be it laying with a female or flexing or just being really rough looking, broad shoulders and wide set feet, all the characteristics they talk about in the article. it is almost comical to me now looking at all these different photos how obvious the separation is.

    I also noticed a common thing in the photos is camera angles.. Typically with a female model the camera is directly looking at them or down at them. And in male photos it seems a larger majority of them are looking up or at them. I find this kind of interesting. Although it could have just been such a small sample i saw that i want to believe this applies to all for the sake of benefiting the argument. could just be simple mistake on my part by not looking at tons of pics.

  2. Flipping through an issue of Maxim I had laying around in the apartment (it was the previous tenant's subscription, and we just kept receiving issues, honest!), I came across numerous ads for deodorant, various alcoholic beverages from Corona to Vodka, lubricants (for cars among other things), cellphones, razors, pants, vehicles, tobacco, chewing gum, male enhancement pills, and I believe an umbrella, though I have no idea what that ad is about, however surprisingly few even showed one person, let alone people of different sexes interacting. The two that did have men and women interacting together showed a group of people playing tug-of-war on the beach and a couple kayaking, neither of which are probably worth remarking on. While I did not notice anything interesting with regard to the camera angles like Kresten did, I did notice that ads depicting men alone were typically trying to sell masculinity as the author describes it. In contrary to what the author suggested, I actually found men in pictures to have their arms by their side or folded as often as women, and women to have their arms held farther from their bodies and legs spread apart from each other as often as men (granted it is Maxim).

    Of course, it almost goes without mentioning, most of the women in the ads (and in the magazine in general) were wearing clothes exposing more skin than men, but then the magazine is targeted at young heterosexual men, and does not try to cover the fact that it primarily intends to sell sex. Given the fact that the popular dress of the day for women does generally show more skin than that of men, even in much more reserved magazines you would likely find pictures of women showing more skin than men. That is simply a matter of statistics.

    Just taking this one magazine into consideration (probably a mistake on many levels), I see more variance in stance within the sexes than between them. I would like to point out, though, that, generally speaking, men have wider shoulders than women, and thus a broader stance. And, while it is generally regarded as a demonstration of aggression to hold your shoulders out, I don't think men typically walk around straining to keep their stance wide simply to appear masculine. That is just their anatomy. Additionally, I like to think coolness of demeanor is also commonly regarded as a masculine trait by our society, though I am probably wrong about that. I'm interested to know what others think about that.

    -- Brandon Ross

  3. ust looking at girls on the cover of different magazines, they stand with their arms by their side or with shoulders hunched in a non-threatening way. The only magazine I had lying around was cosmo, but there are quite a bit of ads in it. Most of the ones with women trying to sell fragrance, makeup, even designer clothing have a “feminine” posture as described in the essay. There are some with men, where they are selling men’s fragrances and the man is clearly dominant over the woman. The man stands with legs apart and hand on his hips with the woman is slightly behind him hugging his shoulders. Even the pictures of celebrity men for some of the articles, they have their arms farther away from their bodies and just appear more broader than women, but this could just be due to the camera angle as Kresten observed or that men are just simply broader in the shoulders than most women as Brandon said. I also feel I need to mention the she “America’s Next Top Model,” it was the first thing that came to my mind. The girls on the show are coached about how to stand and what to wear when targeting different audiences. I remember one specific episode where they wore the same swimsuit, but one was for a men’s magazine and the other for a women’s magazine. Their postures were completely opposite, for the men’s they appeared more in control and sexy while for the women’s they appeared pretty, just like being a normal girl. Although I do feel men and women in most ads do follow body postures describe in the essay, it is basically to sell a product. That mainly depends on whom the ad is targeting and if either gender needs to appear dominate or subordinate.

    Erin King

  4. Flipping through the pages of different magazines focusing on the advertisements, I would have to say that what Devor writes about in the essay is very accurate the majority of the time. Any ad featuring photos of men emitted masculinity instantly. The men usually take up a large portion of the frame. Like the author describes masculine body gestures, it appears that all the mean are standing straight up, arms away from their body and shoulders broad; as if to take up as much physical space as possible. Like Kresten mentioned, the camera angle really emphasizes this idea of masculinity. The camera is often at an angle, which makes the model look even taller and statuesque. Another characteristic worth pointing out is the model’s facial expression. In almost all the cases, the model is looking away from the camera, with a stern and serious face. This helps portray ego dominance like the essay talks about.

    There were only a few advertisements I found in which men and women were pictured together. Generally, the same characteristics mentioned above for the men were shown in these ads. They were usually at a larger scale than the women, and seemed to be more dominant in nature. The women were often either in the background a bit, or right next to the men, almost invading their personal space like Devor mentions as being a characteristic of femininity.

    Submissive seemed to be a common theme when it came to advertisements with only a female model. They generally kept their arms close to their sides, and didn’t stand quite as straight as the men. In some cases it appears that the women were even submissive to the product that they were selling. When it came to clothing, it differed depending on the audience the ad was addressing. When targeted toward men, the women often showed more skin than those that were intended more so for other women.

    -Shawn Mitchel

  5. I was looking through an ESPN Magazine. I chose this magazine over a few others because it's a sport magazine so it should be full of ads that portray what Devor talks about. Everything Devor discussed was displayed in nearly every ad displayed in the magazine
    In pictures that only displayed males, they were almost always shirtless or in skin tight doing something dominant that takes a great deal of strength to perform. They were usually pitured from the side and they were situated in a position that allowed them to look relaxed, but i guess flex their muscles at the same time.
    In pictures that only displayed females, they were usually half naked or in seductive clothing holding or wearing whatever it was they are adevertising. The females were photographed from both the front and side and they were almost always giving a seductive eye to the camera. They were usually postioned in a crouched or balled position in almost like a worshiping manner.
    In photographs that displayed both male and female, the male was usually standing tall and broad while the female would be leaning either on or away from him, either hanging on his side or kneeling at his feet. Usually the man was looking into the camera while the female was looking either at the male in a seductive manner or away drifting off into space.

  6. I think that everything that Devor talks about in the essay is completely true. There are different sets or rules for being manly or feminine. And society judges you on these rules. I flipped through a few magazines and what Devor talks about is apparent almost on every page.

    For the males every picture i saw had them flashing their muscles in some kind of way. Showing how dominant they were and how tough they could be. They were usually standing upright and had an almost towering appearance. In about 95% of the pictures i saw the guys were not smiling. They mostly had a serious look to them.

    The females on the otherhand were a different story. Most of the pictures i saw of them they were smiling and looked playful. Most of the pictures showed a lot of clevage and skin. And instead of standing straight up like the guys they were in some other position like Korey said.

    The models clearly point out the ideas being discussed in the essay. And you can clearly see the gender roles being played.

    -Jordan Crawford

  7. The essay does hold true for a lot of the advertisements I'm seeing in my magazines. Often, the males look very masculine and the women are waiting to serve them or meet their needs in some way. The men are usually positioned with their legs apart and the women seem lower than the men in many of the ads, like Kreston said. Generally the women look very feminine because they are usually advertising something like perfume or purses. However, I have noticed in some ads, women do represent some of the masculine traits noted of men. One advertisement I came a cross had a woman in feminine clothes, but lifting weights with her legs spread apart and her arms away from her body. Another ad i saw had a man and a woman in a paint fight.. neither was placed higher than the other, and although the girl was dressed femininely, she had her legs and arms spread apart and was clearly winning the fight. I think that ads often meet Devor's suggestions, but some do not fold to the "cultural constructs."

  8. Everyone pretty much said this already, but Devor really hits the nail on the head in this essay in regards to gender portrayal. I didn't have a magazine around the house, but I google-searched some images from magazines displaying men and women interacting. Devor points out things I never would have noticed before, but they are so true. Like Kresten said, it's almost comical how much the photos dramatize stereotypical masculine and feminine attributes.

    In the photos I observed, the first thing that sticks out is the lack of clothes the female models are wearing. Devor points this out in her essay. In many photos they do appear lower than the men and seem to be "serving" them, like Amanda said. In photos from female magazines, however, many of the men were also in need of more clothing. But, agreeing with what Devor said, they are positioned with their legs apart, looking in control.

    I think these are all extremely stereotypical photos of how men and women interact. We all know that not all women and men are like that in real life. In fact, hardly any of us are truly like that. I know this isn't really on topic, but I wonder why magazine editors are putting images like this in the mind of its readers. And we wonder why there are so many gender issues in America today...

  9. In many magazines, other than specialized magazines for something like fashion designers that show clothing on the women more than just the women, the majority of female and male models depict the writers description of a very “heterosexual orientation.” This means that most pictures of women that is saw showed the model wearing little clothing and in rather seductive and subordinate stances. The male models also were also generally shown in heterosexual orientations, but their expressions and stances were always in a more serious, almost angry, and powerful manner. The stance of a male is a little easier to describe, because in the pictures I saw, most of them were very similar. The male always was standing upright with his shoulders back, and his face was always straight forward looking straight into the camera, creating the more powerful look I mentioned earlier. In one particular photo with both a female and a mole model together, this feminine and masculine stereotype was depicted perfectly. The male was in an upright stance, in a pose like the one I just described, and the female was crouching with her arms around one of his legs looking up at him. I thought this picture was a good example of the female model being very subordinate and passive to the masculine male model in his powerful and aggressive pose. This happened to be a beer ad, which typically portrays this type of image, but I think just in general, most pictures depict these stereotypes, just some more subtle than others.
    Ben Dussouy

  10. As stated by everyone before me, almost everything Devor said in this essay is pretty much spot on. I never really thought about photos in a way that the essay describes until now. All the photos I viewed portrayed the male as a muscular tough guy, and the females were supposed to be viewed as sexy and shy. One photo in particular which caught my attention was an add for a pair of jeans. The male was looking away from the camera with a very serious face and his hands in his pockets. At the same time a girl was leaning against his back resting her arms on his shoulders and staring straight into the camera with a smile on her face. To me this picture shows that that male is strong and can support (literally) the female. It also illustrates that the male is tough and in control of the fun loving, possibly childish woman. I felt that this was a perfect example of what Devor was trying to say occurs in photos such as this. I think this shows the stereotypical masculinity and feminism because the male is clearly the dominant person while the female is relying for a task as simple as standing up.
    -Kevin Plath

  11. I chose an ad by Old Spice Body Wash in Sports Illustrated Magazine. It showed a young man, probably in college, walking down the hallway in what looks like a dorm hallway half-naked with a towel around his waste. As he walked each girl he passed by blushed and watched with lusting eyes. He was muscular and well tanned, walking with a slight strut with his arms and chest 'expanded' as defined by Devor. As the girls stood watching, their bodies seemed to shy away with their arms curling in close to their bodies with smiles and soft, submissive eyes. I believe this ad directly reflects the elements of typical masculinity and femininity as described in Deor's article. It didn't take long for me to think of an ad to use for this posting as there are many adds in today's media that prey on these gender roles. It is for this reason that I believe that gender roles will never fade in popular society.

  12. I looked through an article of Field and Stream and it showed an ad for skoal citrus and it showed a group of people swimming by a boat and a guy jumping off of the top of the boat into the water, and i noticed how all of the guys seemed to be flexing and that the girls in the water were hanging off of them like they wouldn't know what to do if they weren't attached to them. Also, it gave off a very manly vibe and seemed to say if you dip skoal citrus you will be ripped and have very attractive girls to swim with. In looking through the other ads in the magazine I noticed this theme was very prevalent. I feel like especially for this magazine that because it is a magazine mostly written for males who are involved in hunting and fishing it wants to show ads that are manly and show women as extra feminine to portray what most men see as the perfect manly man who dips, smokes, wears flannel, has a pair of wranglers and boots on and drinks whiskey and always has attractive women around him.
    -Erik Ross

  13. When looking at magazine of Elle I found that in pictures with women they were mostly laying down in very seductive positions with much skin showing like Kresten said. The women usually have very flashy clothing on and bright lip stick. In the pictures with seductive positions the women were either crossing their legs sexy or hiking one up. As far as angles I didn't see anything with women. Most of the angles were looking straight at them. On to the men now. For the most part the men would have no shirts on with a six pack and chizeled abs with a very sex girl or girls all around him or kissing him. For men I found the angle always seemed to be looking up at him. In ads for make-up, finger nail polish, etc. the women seemed to be playing these innocent girls but in clothing ads they were very seductive. In majority of the pictures girls would be holding something or doing something with their hands trying to pose, but the men were in just normal everyday positions like sitting or just having their arms crossed. Women are definitely portrayed as more flashy and seductive while guys are just laid back and very masculine.

    Nicholas Roger

  14. From studying magazines such as Vogue and Elle, I would have to agree with the arguments Devor presents. Most of the advertising was portrayed men and women in typical "heterosexual" roles. The women were in very little clothing and usually in very seductive positions with the male being the dominate individual in the advertisement. One particular advertisement was a Ralph Lauren ad in which the female model was curled onto the guys chest with an almost helpless look to her and the male model has his arms around her with a stern face. However, both models were facing the camera. One interesting ad I saw was a Juicy Couture ad. The male model was fairly skinny and he was wearing a tutu and holding a purse. The female model was wearing all black and placed in a very aggressive stance next to the girl. It was interesting in the sense that the gender roles were switched, but it was still an interesting and eye catching advertisement. Regardless of this random ad, most depictions of the way men and women act are very stereotypical and follow what Devor presents in his writing.

  15. It was extremely easy to identify with what Devor was describing in the essay. The stuff in the magazine was like point-for-point with what Devor said. I thumbed through a couple of Maxim magazine's while I was on the clock at work (oops). It didn't take long to see some of the things that the essay described. Most females, at least in these magazines, were wearing very little clothing and were in seducing poses. Another thing I noticed was that the magazines played off of extreme views of femininity and masculinity. Most males were doing something super-duper masculine or standing all triumphant like.There were no just average looking guys in there either. They looked like they were all juiced up on steroids!! On the other hand, most females in the magazine were either being extremely sexy or doing something that is very woman like in every day society. One particular photo I saw was an add for a cologne. There was a woman with, again, very little clothes on, laying on a man's lap while he stared into the camera all tough like. This lined up with what Devor pointed out in the essay.

    -Andrew "A.J." Hubert

  16. The model that Devor presented held up in most of the advertisements I looked through. Men, usually taller than women, would be standing rigidly or sitting with straight backs. Women in general would be leaning, sometimes on a man, or in a relaxed position with limbs drawn towards themselves.

    Another interesting thing I saw was the trend in how the products were presented. Men in general would be holding, using or wearing the product they were trying to sell. I thought this might correlate with what Devor said about men wanting to be masculine would not do feminine things and thus want to do things that people they see as masculine would do, apparently like shop at Express for Men. Women however, seldom were holding their products, unless wearing them. Here, I agree with Shawn in that the women depicted were more submissive about their products almost to the point of being subliminal, with just a picture and a brand name at the bottom corner.

    This model was not always the case though. Sometimes men were interacting with women and were not in rigid stances or with feet spread apart, like I saw on some American Eagle ads were everyone seemed to be jumping around. Women also were not always standing with their legs together with arms by their sides, like in some women specific designer labels where the models were posing as if at the end of a runway.

    -Evan Ledet

  17. I was looking through this months issue of Maxim this morning and one ad really caught my eye. It was a alcohol ad for a tequila called "Fat Ass" and in this picture they had a girl who was wearing a red skimpy bikini. This model was how do you say ... gifted in both her power steering rack and her rear end. (thats a little car humor)Her legs were semi open and her hands were on her hips. I found that she was standing in a seductive way as to make her assets look better. Now I was also flipping through a car magazine called MPH which is pretty much a car infused version of Maxim. One article was discussing the then new BMW sport wagon.The picture that accompanied this shows a group of people, one guy has only one girl along with a BMW Z3 behind them.(this car is only a 2 seater) On the other side of the picture there is a guy with four girls around him all in a submissive and seductive kind of way and he has the BMW wagon behind him (the wagon holds more people). I found that this was a flip on gender roles since in the car world "wagons" are not the most masculine thing to dive.They have the same stereo type as a mini-van does. The way the picture was taken makes the reader feel that the wagon is now masculine and is no longer feminine.In both pictures you see the stereo type of the man being the provider and the protector and the women being the subordinate and the sensitive one.

    -Joey Busbice Jr.

  18. I picked a X-Men Origins ad from a Maxim magazine because who's more masculine than Wolverine? In this picture Hugh Jackman has this really mean look on his face and is standing with space apart from his body and his hands clenched in fists. His muscles are standing out showing his strength and intimidation which makes him look more masculine. His shirt is ripped giving the impression of having just been in a fight. All of the actors standing in the background are staring straight at the camera, but the only female in the picture has her hair slightly hanging in her face making her look less intimidating.

    But sometimes the poses are different. There was also this Axe ad in which the girl was on top of the guy, pinning him down. She was in the dominate position. His muscles were bludging though so that even though she was dominating him, he didn't look like a wimp. She is also wearing very little clothes making her still feminine. So even in ads where the girl isn't vulnerable the man is still masculine.

    -Nicole Bekemeier

  19. The magazine I picked was the Cosmopolitan (she was the only friend with a popular magazine). Regardless, most of the advertisements in this magazine had the guy dominating. Women were generally shown either flaunting for the guy in the picture, or looking at the reader in a bent position. Guys were generally shown with either stern faces or small smiles. Women’s faces were generally expressionless and waiting. I want to mention that the guys in the advertisements were not large or really muscular, but in fact sleek in look and mild in tone (which is not quite what I would expect after reading this article). I would normally consider being muscular as a dominant trait that model men would have. However, I definitely could see the correlation of subordination that Devor refers to. In the article Devor does refer to having a less upright position (feminine trait in advertisement) as subordinate to those who stand upright (masculine trait in advertisement).