Current Issues in the Slovak Mass Media

by Veronika Cillingová (Author) Eva Bútorová (Author) Dáša Nováčiková (Author) Jitka Rožňová (Author)
Monographs 110 Pages

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • Dedication Page
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • 1 The Issue of Gender Stereotypization in Commercial as Mass Media
  • 1.1 Stereotypization in the Process of Opinion Forming
  • 1.2 Linguistic Instrumentarium of Gender (In)equality
  • 1.3 Gender Stereotypization and (In)equality – Medial or Social Construct?
  • 1.4 Tematization of Gender Issue
  • 2 The Issue of Syncretism of Mass Media and Artistic Communication
  • 2.1 Conditions for Syncretism of Mass Media and Artistic Communication
  • 2.2 Fine Arts in Advertising
  • 2.3 Photography in Advertisement
  • 2.4 Film in Advertising – Advertising in Film
  • 2.5 Usage of Art in Advertising
  • 3 Issues of Analytical Journalism in the Magazine Romboid
  • 3.1 Forming of Journalism in the Romboid Magazine from 1966 to 1989
  • 3.2 Journalistic Genres in Romboid after 1989
  • 3.3 Reviews as Dominant Element of Content Focus of the Magazine
  • 3.4 Discussions and Polemics as a Part of Journalism of Rational Type
  • 3.5 Journalistic Interview as Part of Genre Conception of Romboid
  • 3.6 Analytical Journalism in the Magazine Romboid
  • 4 Issues of Journalistic Genres in Slovak Print Media
  • 4.1 Theories Influencing Application of Journalistic Genres in Slovak Print Media
  • 4.1.1 Issues of Current Theories of Journalistic Genres Applied in Slovak Print Media
  • 4.2 Methodology of Analysis of Current Condition of Theory of Journalistic Genres in Slovak Print Media
  • 4.3 Identification of Analysis/Dissection in Slovak Print Media
  • 4.3.1 Comparison of the Way of Identification of Dissection and Analysis in Slovak Print Media
  • 4.4 Traditional versus New Theory of Slovak Journalistic Genres
  • Conclusion
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Bibliography
  • About the Authors


There have been many significant changes in the field of mass media communication in the area of the Slovak Republic over the past 20 years. The changes are closely related to the development of political-social situation in Slovakia in the 90s of the 20th century and subsequently at the turn of the millennium. One of the most significant determinants of forming of mass media environment in Slovakia is the establishment of the independent Slovak Republic in 1993 following a non-violent split from the Czech Republic from their common state that was continuously functioning for more than 40 years. The establishment of the Slovak Republic was not only a change in the form of existence of the independent state but the change of political regime in the country as well. The republic characterized by its own attribute as “socialist1 changed into “democratic” what was declared in its constitution. Although this change formally happened in a relatively short period, it actually took much longer time. Regarding this connection, various questions and issues related to the change of mass media system of the country may be seen as well as the independent course of communication through the means of mass media. These are the questions such as the way of communication as well as issues concerning the formation of cultural framework of mass media in Slovakia or obstacles related to the penetration of private entrepreneurship into media production connected to commercialization or tabloidization of media. This situation was one of the reasons for the creation of the submitted monograph Current Issues of Mass Media in Slovakia. Its aim was to draw attention to some of the issues that resulted from continuous formation of mass media sphere in Slovakia. The monograph does not solve these problems; however, its authors attempted to point out at the possible steps that might be taken to eliminate, respectively, to inform about similar cases from abroad especially from liberal-democratic countries where the tradition of such attitude towards mass media communication has been formed for a longer period of time compared to the “young” Slovak Republic.

The monograph consists of four chapters where its authors deal with issues of production of mass media discourses from various aspects. Focus of chapters is not based on fundamental classification of mass media means, but it is based on their technological characteristic on the line print-radio-television-Internet and does not specialize in spheres from the aspect of the aim of communication in terms of marketing communication, journalistic ←9 | 10→communication, etc. Individual chapters inform about opinions on selected current issues in the context of forming of mass media communication in Slovakia until and after 1993, taking their social function in terms of journalistic communication into consideration, resulting from the request of literary-democratic countries as well as the issue of forming of theoretical base of formation of the independent types of communication in mass media in the context of various mass media transmitter (print media, film, photography, literature, works of art in marketing communication, book). It also points out at the issue of stereotypes presented in Slovakia via social networks or advertising in all types of media.

The first chapter named Issue of Gender Stereotypization in Advertising as Mass Medium deals with the issue of presenting stereotypes. The subject of the issue presented is especially the question of presenting inequality in advertising types of communication on the line of male-female linguistic gender. Based on the examples of foreign researches, it points out at the issue that may be identified in Slovak marketing/mass media communication as well. Advertising as mass medium is the topic of the second part of this monograph The Issue of Syncretism of Mass Media and Artistic Communication. Application of artistic elements in advertising is demonstrated based on foreign commercial types of communication Slovak recipient (consumer) is familiar with. The chapter demonstrates interconnection of visual artistic works with mass media and points out at possible issues of this application. The part named Issues of Analytical Journalism in the Magazine Romboid deals with the literary art in the context of genre requirements of journalistic communication in Slovakia. The chapter points out at issues accompanying the formation of opinion journalism of rational type focused on literary production of Slovak authors from the Second Word War that influenced the development of current Slovak genres of analytic journalism. The issue of forming and using genres within journalistic communication is dealt with in the chapter named The Issues of Journalistic Genres in the Slovak Press. This part of the monograph draws its attention to print mass media consisting of discourses-journalistic texts produced by journalists. It outlines various determinants that influenced the current state of the existence of linguistic frameworks journalistic texts formation in Slovak print media in the form of the theory of journalistic genres.

As we mentioned before and as it results from the previous description of individual chapters, this monograph does not describe all the issues of mass media in Slovakia but it attempts to provide an overview of some of them that are interconnected, respectively, where one issue results from another seemingly different one. We believe that this monograph provides the base for the research of forming of mass media in post-communist countries as the Slovak Republic is.

←10 |

1 The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic – until 1990.

1 The Issue of Gender Stereotypization in Commercial as Mass Media

Slovak mediologist Jitka Rožňová states that “the influence of mass media on individuals and society is manifested on multiple levels: they influence behavior, attitudes, opinions of individuals, they may expand horizons of knowledge, educate, they help in political and consumer decision making, they influence lifestyle, emotional and physiological reactions of audience members etc. In regard to, (…) is their participation in creating social relationships and states of mind of individuals particularly important. And because they are intensively interconnected with other institutions this share may not be isolated from the society and individually researched.2 Our ambition is therefore to give a sense of the issue of gender stereotypization and gender inequality in media and advertising from various aspects in terms of interdisciplinary discourse.

Thanks to increasing of media literacy, a person acquires the ability of selection of information and more critical perception and reception of media contents, although as a result of huge overpressure of information there is an overload of information and disorientation of the Internet. Natural reaction of users is a tendency to stereotypization in the process of forming opinions and taking stances.

1.1 Stereotypization in the Process of Opinion Forming

In terms of “a paradigm of information processing” stereotypization is understood as a process performed in four consecutive steps:

1. filtration, interpretation and information coding;

2. its processing and subsequent drawing conclusions;

3. their remembering and repeated recollection;

4. their application in our behavior.3

It is not possible to clearly state to which science and its notional apparatus a stereotype belongs what only confirms its presence and position in the intersection of social sciences. The term stereotype was coined by American writer and political commentator Walter Lippmann in 1992 in his book Public Opinion (Verejná mienka). According to him, there is such emotionally conditioned general knowledge that forgo, control and pre-filter information.4 ←11 | 12→We would like to pay more careful attention to four ways of reflexions on stereotypes and their position in society based on Lippmann’s conception that were analyzed in details by Hungarian psychologist György Hunyady.

1. Social origin of stereotypes and their use

Lippmann believed that word views and understanding of one’s own identity are created from contents in people’s minds that are delivered to them in the form of instant semi-finished products from the factory specialized in the creation of public opinion.5 Due to the lack of time, we could follow what stereotypes dictate to us if there were such individuals in the history of each nation who would selflessly deal with organization of stereotypical meanings, their standardization and improvement. We hold the opinion that the idea of saviors in the form of intellectuals is rather naive. Elite does not save the crowd manipulated by the power which rhetorics is based on modified stereotypes, converted into rules, pre-filtered in laws serving for dominant minority (financial groups, politics, mafia, media).

2. Changing society and stability of its image

Image of society in our minds is selective despite the intensive flow of information, despite compactness it is full of blind spots and stable despite of its constant changes.6 Due to capacity limits, the mechanism of the mind is set for economical information handling that secures the feeling of safety and certainty. Another reason is the fact that stereotypes present the core of our customs, it provides stability and protection and rightfulness of the position we take within society. They create organized image of the world we adapted to. Everything has its place there. They provide us with the feeling of ability to foresee, respectively, they eliminate doubts.

3. The need for control

Lippmann indicated for many times that he admits justifiability of stereotypical generalization as the part of culture that would otherwise suffer from their displacement. Their danger, however, lies in the fact that these forms of simplification soaked in feelings substitute the actual image of society.7 In case of not understanding the society as a system that is in constant motion resulting in his changes there may be time disharmony when stereotypes lose their topicality, validity and are applied inappropriately leading to their misunderstandings. Such out of context stereotypes are often ←12 | 13→used for manipulative efforts. The author emphasizes the need for certain control and re-evaluation of stereotypes, avoiding their rigid anchoring. He is also aware of the fact that schematic simplification is natural consequence of an effort to face the flow of numerous amount of information.

4. General and complex elements of image of the world

Role of stereotypes is not descriptive, but their presence is obvious related to making judgments and taking stance. They are connected to various forms of experience of life situations such as fear, desire, pride, hope, etc.8 In regard to this fact if we do not get rid of prejudices we will “know” only: “mean Scottish”, “greedy Jewish”, “vain celebrity”, “spectacled intellectualorobese cook.

Prejudices compared to stereotypes mostly express negative envious attitudes against a reviewed object (ethnic, racial, gender discrimination) whereas stereotypes may even take a positive stand. “Stereotype is a very stable element in one’s consciousness, mental and social mechanism regulating perception and evaluation of certain phenomena influencing one’s point of view, opinion, attitudes and behavior. Undifferentiated generalized attribution of certain characteristics to all members of given group is typical for a stereotype. It is characteristic for its emotionality and irrationality simplifying interpretation of phenomena (as such it is very often misused as a means of propaganda). Stereotypes has a considerable inertia and change very slowly. They have significant but little obvious influence on consciousness.9

Based on characteristic features of stereotypes we derived six attributes of stereotypization that will contribute to their identification in practice of several scientific disciplines confirming that stereotype is a category which in terms of cited definition is present in tool apparatus of majority of humanitarian, social and natural sciences.

1. Economization – application of economy (with money, time, energy, etc.);

2. Generalization – the process of generalization;

3. Categorization – putting in categories;

4. Navigation – directing in unknown space/environment;

5. Reductionism – reduction of complex phenomena to their simplification;

6. Traditionalism – holding traditions and effort to their consistent maintaining.

←13 | 14→

1.2 Linguistic Instrumentarium of Gender (In)equality

Language is one of the most significant attributes of each culture. It is a system of signs used for verbal communication of people. As one of the main tools of socialization of a human, i.e. their forming and integration into society greatly contributes to creating of gender identity.

Relationship of (stereotypical) gender roles and a language is described and reflected in feminist linguistic. Researchers of this field of linguistics focus on analysis of conversational styles, the role of a language regarding personality development, research of mechanisms of enforcing the power through the language, etc. They bring number of new concepts to a linguistic discourse where the following are the most discussed ones:

Sexism in a language10 – is a complex term for various forms of discrimination in a language based on gender (women are more affected by this phenomenon than men). Those which occurrence is the most frequent one will serve as an illustration.

Generic (non-symptomatic) masculine (GM) – “one of the most frequent mechanisms of creating gender inequalities and excluding of women frommedia realityis designation of positions and professions by expression is solely male grammatical gender – in a form of generic masculine (GM).”11 It is usage of male gender as a referential gender (representative, superior) in cases both genders are involved. We will give an example from marketing practice: advertisements in a section employment where a target group are predominantly women, they generally address their condition related to a candidate’s gender to women whereas in advertisements that address their percipients by GM without a specific preference of any gender they, however, evoke interest in men feedback.

Structural linguistics says that, masculines have gender specific and neutral (generic) function naturally resulting in representative function of GM for both genders. According to a Czech linguistic Jana Valdrová, however, GM does not represent both sexes and prevents women from equalization in a language. She conducted association tests of 50 names of persons according to their jobs, functions and social relationships on a sample of 50 respondents. Based on the results, it turned out that some masculines function generically i.e. respondents actually associated them with an image of both male and female: student, applicant, viewer, listener, voter, retiree, ←14 | 15→etc. Although the higher social and economic prestige of a given position or profession, the more (up to 70–80 %) respondents associated it with an image of male – substantives such as: lawyer, deputy, candidate, owner, chief, professional, chairman.12

Based on monitoring of media and advertising from the aspect of violence against women and support of gender equality in 2011 we learn that “generic masculine is overused also when designating gender-mixed groups of people, groups where women in fact represents significant majority respectively (e.g. female teacher retirees). GM appeared in news reports 4 times more frequently that female LR on average13.”

Researchers of feminist linguistics, which is based more on sociological and psychological aspects, point out the fact that people when perceiving objective reality are influenced by language structures and through preference of masculine tendencies to prefer females by men in society are strengthened. Barbora Holubová and Martina Špringelová from the Institute for Labor and Family Research in their monitoring report state that “in 2010 there were 2447 references of generic masculine and 650 references of female lexical genders in news texts. Media greatly contribute to invisibility of women by overusing of generic masculine.14

In another of her researches, Valdrová analyzed thousands of newspaper headlines from the most popular Czech dailies and found out that “the absence of female forms was a rule. As if social, cultural and political situation was happening almost without participation of women (); overusing of generic masculine as I see it inappropriately preserve an image of a man in a role of sole creator of values at the expense of female social contribution.” Following Sapir-Whorf hypothesis15 using a little exaggeration she says that “what is not denoted as if it does not exist for us.16

It is necessary to mention that the argument for using GM is the fact that its aim is not to discriminate yet to save time and provide coherence of the text.

Female inflection is deriving of female (proper and common) nouns from female ones. It is an integral part of our grammatical system and the issue of female inflection of female surnames is only one category of this rule. It ←15 | 16→is prescribed by The Rules of Slovak Orthography (PSP) that are needed to be followed according to the Law on the State Language besides some exceptions (allows usage e.g. female surname with no ending regarding women of different nationality).

Arguments against female inflection focus mostly on one type of this morphological rule in Slovak language and that is derivation by the suffix-ová. The reason of this “misunderstanding” is that “possessive structures” (possessiveness) a language category “intentionally” identifies with the relation of ownership or possessiveness in the real world. PSP reasons its need by an argument that the Slovak language is an inflected (declinable) language and does not allow non-female inflected forms of female surnames which indeclinability causes communication noise.

French existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir claims that the image of the world as well as the world itself is a creation of males. All of its parts are created by males and are in their services.17 From this point of view, language as one of the fundamental elements of culture is a representative of gender distinctiveness with the dominance of male principle. In an explicit form, it may be demonstrated on an example of the English language where a word man has two meanings: male and a human being. English word woman (Sk.žena) consists of a root man adding a prefix wo-. Similar parallel may be found in the Bible, in the Book of Beginnings (Genesis), that describes creation of a woman from the man’s rib and its assigned designation as female.18

In the principles of a language system even a representation of genus may be identified there. It is possible to compare how individual languages express a genus – languages with male and female gender (gender languages) – respectively, as in other languages there the distinguishing is absent – languages without grammatical gender (non-gender languages). It is necessary to be careful; a language without grammatical gender cannot be confused with so-called gender neutral language. It is one of the instruments of concept of removing gender and sex inequality that contradicts the sexist in a language. Usage (implementation) of gender-sensitive language is also one of the main instruments of gender mainstreaming19 as an approach to remove gender inequality in society.

←16 | 17→

Some researches derive the intensity of tendencies to achieve gender equality in practice from rules applied in language systems. A Czech pedagogue Jan Průcha states in relation to Finland and the Finnish languages interesting facts and correlations of Finnish sociologists about the Finnish language that does not express gender differences, and at the same time, this country as the first in Europe implemented women’s suffrage that have a dominant representation in the government (almost 50 %) and (almost 40 %) in the parliament.20

The research of a Dutch sociologist Geert Hofstede showed that based on the fact how participants gave statements on certain life goals in professional area – acknowledgment, cooperation, career growth, etc. – there are significant differences between men and women. Men put a great emphasis on career goals and women rather on good working relationships.21

Deborah Tannen, an American linguist, and many other professionals claim that women and men belong to different language communities; they have a different way of communication as well as different goals of communication. These are so-called genderlects. As people of different cultures speak different dialects, women and men speak different genderlects.22 Although the theory of genderlects is not accepted by many feminist female and male linguists because they are aware of other aspects forming verbalization. Indeed, besides gender, speech is also influenced by biological and social determinants that are reflected there – e.g. cultural specifications, social status, etc.

Research of gender implications in language over the past decades has shown the following:

In purely female groups females actually talk more than men in purely male groups, but in dialogs of gender mixed societies major part of a dialog is led by males.

Males more frequently interrupt female’s speech and change the topic of dialogs in order to suit their needs;

When a male speaks, representatives of both sexes draw higher attention to him rather than to a female speaking;23

Men claim more space and they often enter woman’s personal zone;24

←17 | 18→

Men are less willing to hear out women than women hearing out men.

According to Tannen the reason is that, hearing out puts a person into subordinate position while talking into superior one;25

Men and women hear out each other in a different way. Women have a tendency to use more positive signals such as interjections, nodding and smiles. Compared to men, women are much more focused on keeping an eye contact while men have tendency to look around.26

Women control their body language and can interpret non-verbal expressions better”;27

The research of group talks of the same sex points out at the fact that, in purely female groups women speak more than men in purely male groups and often interrupt each other, but these interruptions are more of supportive rather than offensive character. Dialogs of women are more dynamic and collective than dialogs of men.28

Gender affiliation and gender identity are cultural variables and a language as one of the culture manifestation greatly contributes to their formation. Some specifications of particular language system inscribed by culture and subsequently reproduced contains perceived negative nuances where a space for more effective removing of manifestations of gender inequality in societies may be created by their elimination. An effort to reach gender equality is an important goal of a civilized world where each society within its own context also react on language needs. Regarding conditions of the Slovak language that is gender distinctive, implementation of using gender-sensitive language gradually into all spheres of social life may be shown effective.

1.3 Gender Stereotypization and (In)equality – Medial or Social Construct?

In case of each significant change in a human society, the beginning of a new technology played an important role as a catalyst increasing the level of its organizational structure. Mankind has gone through four development stages in the following chronological order:

1. hunting and gathering;

2. agrarian;

←18 | 19→

Each scientific field is indeed, characterized by its own approach to history periodization based on a perspective of its subject matter. It is necessary to be aware of the correlation of these processes since so-called industrial society has not stopped being dependent on agriculture as well as so-called information society on industry. A Slovak lawyer a political scientist Danie Šmihula claims that: “Beginning of each new sector was conditioned and accompanied by progress in other sectors. Industrial revolution could not be possible without significant increase of agriculture performance that has released workforces, information revolution also contains progress in industry new production technologies enable mass production of computers and vice versa these enable completely new procedures in production, cultivation etc.30

Mass media theoreticians – mediologists – created periodization of history dividing it into stages according to the dominance of the most typical communication means i.e. prevailing technologies mediating communication. A Catholic-oriented Canadian mediologist Marschall McLuhan was a supporter of media-centric theory based on the prevailing medium of the period that determines period mentality and organizational structure the society. He most accurately expressed his opinions by coining a term “technological determinism” accenting the perspective of perceiving the world through an imperative of a dominant medium. He claims that each new media technology brings changes users adapt to. Thanks to this, they multiply their communication options that enrich them with new senses; they may intensify the effect of some of the senses, respectively, and at the same time, they numb or suppress other senses.31

The way how media present distinction of gender roles, undoubtedly and by great share participate in gender stereotypization. In the following lines, we focus on certain aspects of semantic raster and functions of advertising from the aspect of selected socio-philosophical and post (feminist) conceptions in the period of so-called postmodernism. Advertising phenomenon may be also interpreted at the background of semiotic analysis of language properties (understood in broader sense) and its attributes where displacing of “unwanted”, “uncertain”, “useless,” etc. belongs, and not only in the context of its operative function. These questions are directly connected to the principle of “secret alliance” of rationalism and power analyzed by French ←19 | 20→philosophers and semiotics analysts Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault či Gilles Deleuze. The in-depth reflections of pot-industrialist capitalist society by these authors point out at the internal relationship between the nature of a language as a rational instrument of control, manipulation and power from obvious, visible (e.g. political) levels to micro-social-private human relationships. The criticism of failing and unsuccessful (post)modernistic social projects may significantly contribute to understanding of characteristic features and principles of advertising functioning. If we understand advertising as a certain kind of a language utterance or discourse, we may especially by applying of these methods of stated authors penetrate deeper to its core.

Typology according to Foucault and Deleuze seems productive regarding characteristics of the nature of current society. Enlightenment phase is characterized as “disciplinary society” with so-called “large environments of closing” (family, school, barracks, factory, hospital) and a stage of post-industrialist society as “control society” where environment of closing is replaced with “ultrafast forms of control with expression of freedom32 Deleuze following Foucault characterizes typical features of current (multi) control society through metaphors of an enterprise and pastoral power of a priest. While principles of unhealthy competitiveness and irreconcilable rivalry (accenting egoistic focus on one’s advantages) in a modern enterprise according to him reflects in the spheres of education, TV entertainment, etc. legitimacy of pastoral power is appropriated by a secular state that usurps in terms of market mechanism the right to create various sophisticated control systems. Their specificity and influence are closely interconnected with the development of information digital technologies what Deleuze does not interpret only as a surface phenomenon but he uses it to explain “deep mutation of capitalism.” As he believes mutated (neo) capitalism does not orientate on production (that is moved to the second and third world) but on a product, its sales and market, circulation of imaginary finances where a man “is not closed anymore yet indebted.” “Marketing that is an instrument of social control” has a dominant position there.33

If Deleuze describes these scattering purposeful processes of control in prison, school, hospital or enterprise regime, we may analogically think about to what extent current advertising contributes to their strengthening, potential subversion, respectively. Its pragmatic utility determination and function (product and service promotion with an aim to sale) does not necessarily mean that it is unconditionally involved in these aforementioned ←20 | 21→unwanted phenomena. Its “share of the guilt” may be rather found in cultivating and reinforcing these (definitely not only) gender stereotypes that said in Deleuze’s way reinforce “festivity of marketing.

The above-mentioned fact of displacement in a language is directly related to post-feminist criticism of a woman’s role which marginalization in patriarchal society absolutely embodies and symbolizes “a principle of exclusion.” As Richard Appignanesi claims women without their own place in history appeared “either as an external representation of something else – statue of liberty, justice, peace (let’s add maternity, beauty, muse as well; note by E.B.) or as objects of male sexual desire.34 Male theories on understanding sexuality either Freud’s or Lacan’s psychoanalysis understand women, respectively, perceive her as something inferior in terms of incompleteness and deficiency or empty signifier that is represented by an empty womb.35 It is not a coincidence that a number of advertising discourse significantly participate in keeping exclusion of women and denying of opportunity of her autonomy of emancipation status in current society.

On the other hand, Jacques Lacan aptly characterizes (not once) the kitschy beautifying and deceiving nature of advertising and consumer culture from the position of schemes of displaced desire as a system of internal symbolical references that “try to evoke the feeling of unity, health, happiness and sense for subject that in fact does not exist. These elements of culture try to retouch a conflict, fragmentation, disapproval, pain and hardship through creating unity, consensus, satisfaction and happiness.36

We find an effort of advertising for purposeful ignorance of natural inconsistency and other “opposite” sides of everyday life analyzed by Lacan a crucial issue in our context of researching advertising and its discourses or pretending own hyper reality to be real compared to uncomfortable reality itself. Translated into our issue, gender stereotypes are presented as natural and everything that does not fit is interpreted as deviant.

Similarly as Lacan, one of the first semiotics analyst who reflected on phenomenon of advertising in their theories was Roland Barthes. In his foreword, to a ground-breaking work in this field named Mythology (1957) where he deals with the process of “mythologization” of those attributes of modern cultures such as washing powders and detergents, plastic toys, wrestling, beefsteak, fries or striptease, he writes that the base of his reflections was the feeling of resentment and disapproval with so-called naturalness used by both mass media and art for decorating the reality. He literally ←21 | 22→writes that he suffered from “how within narrative, creating our current situation, I resented seeing Nature and History confused at every turn, and I wanted to track down, in the decorative display of what-goes-without-saying, the ideological abuse which, in my view, is hidden there.37

Referring back to Foucault, we would like to point out at another connection and in indicated intentions to mention his in-depth analysis of power tactics growing into all layers of society, not overlooking advertising. If modern society after sexual revolution pretends to be eminently free, anti-repressive and liberal in terms of sexuality, regarding this aspect Foucault unmasks its face. According to him, new discourses on sexual issue generate “new power mechanisms” and “new forms of submissiveness.” He directly speaks about “new technology of sex” created by medicine, psychiatry, education as well as psychoanalysis that became one of the crucial elements of current institutionalized power.38 The nature of current advertising, using not hidden messages for ostentatious eroticism and in certain case lascivious sexuality, indicates that it became a part of this creation of mutually impregnating “technology of sex and power.” Market control capitalist society could not base its nature to cultivate manifestations of gender stereotypization, their subversion would be undermining of its “imperatives of constant prosperity and profit.

Based on the stated above, it turns out that advertising may be to a certain degree understood as emblematic abbreviation of principles described by Foucault – essentially it contains and expresses symbiosis of flattening gender stereotypization and unhidden proclaimed intention of profit where the “end justifies” any means. We do not understand “any” only as misuse of gender models but also hypocritical “parasitism” on themes of ecology, stylized empathy or charity, etc.

Significant examples of such approach are advertising campaigns of clothing company United Colors of Benetton. At first sight as if they point out at various acute problems of the current world (AIDS, racism, genocide), however, under the layer of controversially chocking information we may deduct only multiplication of certain (not only gender) stereotypes. The Benetton campaign encapsulates the past, present and future in a single time frame offering images which conjure historic, futuristic and apocalyptic elements within a grammar of race. ()This is advertising as asocial conscience”, “an artificially constructed reality that projects an image of harmony to sell a brand name, while reproducing the stereotypes of Western culture.39 American expert on female studies Celia Lury in connection ←22 | 23→to Benetton focuses on process where a particular human social type becomes consumer brand with fixed, modernistically experienced attributes and speaks about transformation of iconography of human race in these commercials only to an expression of a certain style.40 Even racial differences that are naturally conditioned are interpreted there culturally that represent a threat also for presentations of gender.

1.4 Tematization of Gender Issue

Thoughts of an American feminist Judith Butler serve as a proof that current commercial advertising does not reflect the changing nature of gender world. She reveals the fact that gender category is understood in Euro-Atlantic cultural-civilization context based fundamentally on confused modernistic conceptions on heterosexuality “laced in a corset” of middle class as a priori pre-discursive and pre-social quantity, but in reality, the gender is also a discursive creation and has it changing historicity. Nor gender-sex relationship, therefore, may not be constant but it is interpreted in this way by advertising in majority of cases.41

The stated problem within direct tematization of gender issue is not perceived as marginal in our work. Our aim is not to name misrepresented tendencies of gender issue in advertising discourse but to point out at ambiguity and changing nature of terms gender, sex, respectively, at their mutual relationship through the prism of productive (post)feminist discourse. Besides hitherto mentioned authors, let’s mention initiatives of authors such as Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray or Camille Paglia.

All these three authors proceed from the fact that the project of modernity itself is a patriarchal gender construct. Julia Kristeva refuses to understand feminine identity in psychoanalytical theories of Freud and Lacan – like types that place a women outside the process of self-constitution.42 She radically diverges, among other things, from the belief that a woman has a fixed sex role and understands a subject (eventually not only females but a male as well) outside determination of roles of sexes. Without refusing the phenomenon of pregnancy that reproduces “extreme suffering connected to the split of a subject” she especially points out at subversive moments of understanding gender and sex in her theories.43 Lucy Irigaray also points out the fact that specificity, value and unique quality of female identity was in the history written from patriarchal perspective intentionally overlooked, ←23 | 24→respectively, perceived in the optics woman-lover, woman-mother, woman-housewife, etc.44 suppressing and discriminating of her non-reduced quality. Female subject was understood as deformed, insufficiently developed form of male subjectivity what is “symbolized” by the sizes of female clitoris and male penis.45 For instance, Irigaray proceeds from specificity of experiencing female sexuality that compared to male sexuality (concentrated in one member) has pluralistic nature and consists of experiencing pleasure through the whole body. Regarding this, she states an analogy with a scientific model of so-called dissipative structures of a Russian chemist Ilja Prigogin (in 1977, he was awarded a Nobel prize for chemistry) describing complex, unbalanced, irrefutable chemical processes that may be used also for understanding complex social processes (these are processes based on an exchange with external world and crossing semipermeable thresholds and boundaries). Despite the fact that Irigaray is criticized for her sexual determinism, her pointing to the fact that Euro-Atlantic civilization prescribes women their role and restricts the space for their authentic individual development is very valuable also in the context of reflection of current advertising. It may serve for demonstrating many of undesirable images and intentionally misrepresented misinterpretations of the actual “function” of woman in society. Among other things, she claims that “first right, however, should be the right for (culture), silence and stillness. On television, paid from taxes of our residents, male decadent entertainments, violent movies and sports should not prevail there.46 To what extent this thought applies to the world of advertising communication is obvious.

Another – attractive for her statements – postmodernist feminist who was ostracized not only from Lacan psychoanalytical community like Luce Irigaray but from orthodox feminism as well is Camille Paglia. In contrast to it, she says that the world view where male superiority and patriarchal formation is responsible for everything is misleading. She is aware of physiological and mental differences and specifications of a man and a woman and she point out at the implicit dominance of so-called the opposite sex (that may be explicitly symbolized by Cleopatra, Xanthippe, Evita). Paglia namely advances a concept of so-called “Italian pagan catholicism” where under the official habit of piety sensually rich and licentious life full of feminine superiority overflew/overflows. According to her over the past decades a pop super star Madonna who in her costumes and masks pars pro toto accepted ←24 | 25→symbols of “a strumpet.” She retrieves an archetype of Babylonian and Old Roman prostitute in a postmodern context.47 Reflections of C. Paglia may be assigned to those that are a significant subversion of “traditional” and “common” concepts on the nature and “natural concept” of female and male genderness. Let’s ask a question if the world of today’s advertising reflects serious shifts in understanding gender issue in post-feminist thinking in McLuhan’s way. Results of many researches signalize that is not the case. If we compare some advertising campaigns three decades ago with the current ones, we may see – thanks to the development of audio visual technique and digital technologies that there is a significant change in forcefulness and effectiveness of persuasive acting; however, backdrops changes the cast of “acting” roles where women and men act remains the same.

The study has analytical-synthetic character in an effort to understand the issue of gender stereotypization in media and advertising in its entire width and depth what, however, does not mean that we succeeded in achieving all aspects and the overlaps outside media and marketing related to this topic. Our ambition was not to stagnate on the level of descriptive analysis but to penetrate into the level of causalities in the background in which there is projection of those attributes of a man/woman into media and advertising sphere that are means of expression of a gender – masculinity/femininity. We made an effort to reveal broader connections between common gender stereotypes and their perception in the context of metamorphosis the society as a dynamic system constantly goes through.

←25 | 26→←26 | 27→

2 Rožňová, Výtvarné artefakty v printovej reklame, 13.

3 Hunyady, Sztereotípiák a változó közgondolkodásban, 6.

4 Lippmann, Public Opinion, 1–234.

5 Hunyady, Sztereotípiák a változó közgondolkodásban, 6–8.

6 Ibid., 6–8.

7 Ibid., 6–8.

8 Ibid., 6–8.

9 Petrusek et al., Veľký sociologický slovník, 1230.

10 The term sexism was coined in 1968 in the article Freedom for Movement Girls – Now for description of various forms used by men when exercising their power against women.

11 „Monitoring médií a reklamy z hľadiska násilia páchaného na ženách a podpory rodovej rovnosti za rok 2011.”

12 „Český jazyk jako nástroj nerovnoprávnosti žen a mužů.”

13 „Monitoring médií a reklamy z hľadiska násilia páchaného na ženách a podpory rodovej rovnosti za rok 2011.”

14 Ibid.

15 Based on this hypothesis understanding of real world is based on language traditions of a particular community and those predetermine its interpretation of reality.

16 „Sexismus v jazyce, aneb jaký má smysl feministická lingvistika?”

17 Beauvoir, Druhé pohlavie, 1–480.

18 Doré, Biblia, 1–1272.

19 The term “gender” mainstreaming for the first time appeared in an international context at III world conference OSN on women (in Nairobi) in the discussion of The Commission on the Status Women about role of women in society. Definition developed by a group of male and female experts of the Council of Europe (1988) takes into consideration complexity and multi variability of this term: Application of gender aspect (gender mainstreaming) is re-organization, improvement, development and evaluation of political processes in a way that integrates gender equality to all measures on all levels (Bratislava, 2002).

20 Unknown author in Průcha, Interkulturní psychológie, 147.

21 Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations, 1–596.

22 Tannen, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, 11–333.

23 McConnell-Ginet in Curran and Renzetti, Ženy, muži a společnost, 181.

24 Henleyet et al., in Curran and Renzetti, Ženy, muži a společnost, 181.

25 Tannen, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, 11–333.

26 Brownell in DeVito, Základy mezilidské komunikace, 128.

27 Hradiská, Hudíková and Čertíková, Praktikum sociálnej komunikácie, 31.

28 Bischoping, Hayadan, McConnell-Ginet in Curran – Renzetti, Ženy,muži a společnost, 181–82.

29 McGinnis, Accelerating Democracy: Transforming Governance Through Technology, 16.

30 „Informačná a komunikačná revolúcia sa stáva minulosťou.”

31 McLuhan, Jak rozumět médiím, 1–400.

32 Deleuze, Rokovania 1972–1990, 196–97.

33 Ibid., 199.

34 Appignanesi and Garratt, Postmodernismus pro začátečníky, 95.

35 Ibid., 96.

36 Harrington, Moderní sociální teorie, 250.

37 Barthes, Mytologie, 8.

38 Harrington, Moderní sociální teorie, 286.

39 Appignanesi and Garratt, Postmodernismus pro začátečníky, 138.

40 Harrington, Moderní sociální teorie, 327.

41 Ibid., 326–327.

42 In Appignanesi and Garratt, Postmodernismus pro začátečníky, 98–99.

43 Harrington, Moderní sociální teorie, 259.

44 S. de Beauvoir already expressed this opinion in 1949 in her work The Second Sex.

45 Zacpal, „Feministická myslitelka Luce Irigaray je dávno součástí filosofických slovníků, my ji však vůbec neznáme.”

46 Ibid.


ISBN (Book)
Publication date
2019 (September)
Gender Stereotypization Artistic Communication Analytical Journalism Journalistic Genres Advertisement Slovak Journalism
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2019, 110 pp., 12 fig. b/w, 6 tables

Biographical notes

Veronika Cillingová (Author) Eva Bútorová (Author) Dáša Nováčiková (Author) Jitka Rožňová (Author)

Veronika Cillingová , PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism at the Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra. Her academic interests focus on language of journalism and journalistic genres. <B> Eva Bútorová</B>, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism at the Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra. She conducts research on gender stereotyping and gender equality in media and advertising. <B> Daša Nováčiková</B>, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism at the Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra. Her academic interests focus on journalistic genres and literary criticism. <B> Jitka Rožňová</B>, Ph.D, is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism at the Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra. Her research interests include art in media communication and advertising.


Title: Current Issues in the Slovak Mass Media