Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising’s Image of Women

Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising’s Image of Women. (Click the link to watch the documentary.)

I just saw this documentary and I find it very interesting. It doesn’t only criticize the advertising industry but the whole society around it as well.

The issue of sexism in the media has always been present and seriously discussed. But in this documentary, Jean Kilbourne raises many outstanding points that will make you rethink about your whole society and reconsider whether all your values are simply socially constructed.

This documentary raised a debate between me and two other flatmates. Basically, two of us agree with the documentary but the other disagrees. Among all the points the latter brought up, he mentioned something that startled me and made me see him in a different light. He said, “I don’t cry, because crying is a sign of weakness.” So I asked him what the real reason why crying is perceived as weak. He replied, “Because girls cry.” And therefore, girls are weak. He believes women belong in the kitchen, at home, raising children. He thinks it is justified if companies pay women less just because they are women. He also believes that it is reasonable to use girls displayed in such a way in advertising to sexually attract guys as long as it brings in money or sales.

I have always been aware of sexual biases and stereotypes. But I have always assumed that, even though we all might have unconscious sexist values affected by the media or old values transferred to us from parents/grandparents, this is 2010 and we would all realize that it is unethical, or at least unfair. I never imagined anyone would believe so strongly against equality between genders. But this debate we just had made me realize that there are still people from the new generation who consciously agree with these stereotypes and refuse to accept that all these values or beliefs are socially constructed.

And by the way, that guy is studying to become an advertiser.

And that makes me worry about our society.

I believe, as an advertiser, we carry such power and therefore responsibility over the whole society. We should recognize where the line should be drawn, and always remind ourselves of this power and of the importance of not abusing it.



  1. Cato Gustavson · December 1, 2010

    The notion that an inadequate product can start to sell just by smacking a half naked woman on the cover belongs in the past. Oeil, this is good stuff you’re putting out, keep writing.

  2. Elizabeth · December 13, 2010

    You know oeilsj, I actually wrote about this very subject earlier on my blog. Your post has provided me with lots of food for thought, I think you made many really interesting points. In fact, I wish I’d read it prior to posting my own article.

    Best wishes,


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