Sexism/Homophobia Scrapbook By: Navya Sharma

Although we have achieved many rights/freedoms throughout history, we still haven't fully achieved equality or equity yet. There is a lot of sexism/homophobia/heterosexism in the media nowadays. It can be seen in ads, commercials, or in music videos. Below are some examples.

Example 1

Gap released this advertisement summer 2016 to display its newest arrivals. Although it may appear to be a simple advertisement, it is actually reinforcing sexism through media. The girl is labelled as “social butterfly” while the boy is labelled as “a little scholar.” It’s sending a message to little girls that looks matter the most for a girl, that to be popular and liked, they only need to dress the best. On the other hand, the boy only needs to prepare for his future, to become a scholar. It doesn’t encourage little girls to go into bigger professions, to think bigger, it focuses on their looks only. It’s reinforcing gender stereotypes on girls and women. It’s basically saying girls and women, need to “sit still, look pretty” and that they can’t become politicians, scholars, or have get any higher positions. It’s also telling boys in a discrete way, that they are better than women and that they can do whatever they want. It’s reinforcing gender stereotypes and discouraging young girls from reaching their potential. There was a huge controversy over this advertisement and fortunately a lot of people noticed and pointed this out.

Example 2

Toyota recently came out with a ski campaign for their Kluger. It indicates that the green circle is the run for the kids, the blue square is the run for moms’ and the black diamond is for dads’. The green slope for kids suggests it’s the easiest slope, then the moms’ slope is the intermediate or medium slope, and then the hardest slope is the one for dads’. Although, it may be appear that it’s only a normal advertisement trying to be promote its campaign creatively through the ski slopes, it is still unsurprisingly sexist. It is indicating that moms’ or in general women are suited best for the intermediate run and can’t handle the hard run, like the men. Although, this advertising may be unintentional, what the company should have done perhaps have a run for the kids and the parents or even better advertise their new campaign in a completely different way. This way they don’t offend anyone and also keep a respectable name in the business.

Example 3

Jacamo is a clothes company for men that is apparently supposed to inspire “bigger sizes”, to help people see “realistic” pictures of a man. Although the company is known for its efforts to stop sizeism, they don’t realize that in this ad, they are also promoting homophobic ideas and reinforcing gender stereotypes as well. The label, “Real men have balls, not man bag,” is stating that men can’t have bags, reinforcing the idea that only women carry bags around, which initially at the end, is saying that if you’re a man and you have a bag, then you’re stereotypically acting like a women or in other words that your gay. This is discouraging to the members of the LGBTQ community and to men in general. Reinforcing gender stereotypes is not only pressurizing men and women in one generation, but those stereotypes are always passed on to the next generation and so continuing the preconceived notion of gender stereotypes.

Example 4

The Bic company is most famous for its ballpoint pens but also famous for some racist advertisements. This advertisement was posted for Woman’s day on the Bic South Africa page. When the advertisement says “look like a girl, act like a lady,” it’s going back to gender stereotypes indicating that all women should act or look a certain way along with the sentence “think like a man,” indicating that a women’s thinking is somehow inferior to men. This not a good message towards girls and women, especially on women’s day, a day which is supposed to help empower women around the world. Also for a women’s day ad, there is no mention of the word women except in the hashtag. How are women supposed to be themselves, act, or think how they want, when they’re told to look “like a girl, act like a lady”, and above all “think like a man?” This ad also affects boys and men as it the ad is discretely indicating to them that they are superior to women and therefore have the right to act superior. It also affects the LGBTQ community. Reinforcing gender stereotypes makes it harder for individuals in the LGBTQ community to live the way they want and makes them feel unaccepted in society.

Example 5

Many alcoholic beverage companies make ads targeted towards men. These ads include many gender stereotypes including muscled men and objectifying women. This ad for Cougar Bourbon whiskey, similar to others, is reinforcing gender stereotypes and is homophobic. It shows a male ice skater in an orange leotard striking a pose with a label saying “Yes. You do look ridiculous.” The ad is indicating that men can’t dress up creatively or with bright colours, ultimately saying that they should dress, look, and act, more like a straight man. The image looks very similar to a stereotypical gay male image along with the slogan, adding fuel to the fire, saying, “Cougar Bourbon. Straight Up.” Unintentional or not, this ad is promoting gender stereotypes and homophobia. It is giving a damaging message to men overall and the LGBTQ community. Gender stereotypes are restrictive to everyone, especially for LGBTQ individuals who would find this ad very offensive and discouraging.


As you can see, there are many, many ads that contribute to sexism/homophobia. The base root of sexism/homophobia are gender stereotypes. These stereotypes force people to act, think, or behave a certain way which is damaging, in a psychical and mental way.

Sexism in Society

Throughout time, women and men have been treated differently including the way they’re supposed to behave or act, and in their status. Women went through a lot of hardships to get some of their rights back such as the person’s case, the right to vote, having the right to work, and paid maternity leave. Although women have achieved many of these rights, there is still inequality for women in today’s society and is especially portrayed in the media. For example, women in the workplace face a lot of discrimination on what they wear, how they’re treated, and their pay. If a woman is loud and gives a lot of commands, she’s bossy, but if it’s a man, he’s just the boss. Women get paid less than men, on average for every $1 a man makes, a women make 79¢. Women get lower-paying position such as a secretary, while men get higher-paying jobs such as a supervisor. This is due to the preconceived notion that women can only do those types of jobs, that they aren’t capable of doing higher-paying jobs. We can see this show through the media as well. For example, a Gap ad features a little boy and girl. The boy is labelled as “the little scholar” while the girl is labelled as “the social butterfly.” This is discouraging to young girls as they will think about their appearance is more important than pursuing an education and getting jobs in higher positions. Another from Bic is for Woman’s day. It says, “Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, work like a boss.” So, what exactly does a girl look like, and how does one act like a lady? Again, this ad is also referencing gender stereotypes as well as the line, “Think like a man.” So basically they’re saying that one should think like a man because women don’t know how to think, and that men are superior. Again going back to stereotype of men being smarter than women. Another stereotype is that women are weaker than men as displayed in a Toyota Kluger ski campaign ad. The ad displayed three different runs for kids, moms’, and dads’. The kids slope indicating the slow run, the moms’ run indicating the intermediate run, and the dads’ indicating the hardest run. This is sexist as the moms’ (or women’s) run is different from the dads’ (or men’s’) run. The ad is indicating that women are weaker than men and cannot handle the intermediate slope, not the hardest one like the men’s. Many ads also objectify and sexualise women, making it harder for women to be taken seriously or be respected. In a society, where the media plays a huge part in expectations and ideals, women are at the center of it. The media reinforces stereotypes on women such as strength, intelligence, and their looks. To help encourage women in their fight for equality, the media should have ads more gender neutral and relatable to everyone, without any stereotypes so that no one is offended and are treated fairly.

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