Studies in English Language, Literature, and Culture in a Global Environment
Edited By Richard Nordquist
Kathy Sin Mun Yee - Masculinity in Contemporary Advertisements - 145
145 Kathy Sin Mun Yee MASCULINITY IN CONTEMPORARY ADVERTISEMENTS Introduction Advertising is a dominant discourse in our society today. We can see different forms of advertising almost everywhere, in newspapers and magazines, on plastic bags and hoardings, on the Internet and in railway stations. Advertisements have penetrated our daily lives. Advertisements for men’s products emphasise masculinity, because it is generally accepted that this is what a man should possess if he wants to be a real man. This concept is constructed by society; society constructs gender and at the same time, society designates the roles and behaviour for both men and women. An advertisement for a home appliance will demonstrate the kind of elegant life- style one is going to pursue after using the appliance. These are the things, it is implied, that people desire. In today’s advertisements for men’s beauty products, there is a mixture of traditional and new concepts of masculinity. Traditionally, ‘ideal masculinity tends to be represented by muscularity, physical labour, outdoor settings, heroic activities, sport and violence’ (Benwell, 2003: 157). In the new concept of mascu- linity, however, men are depicted as narcissistic and melancholic; physical ap- pearance and beauty are nowadays important. There are advertisements for grooming products, skin care products and even cosmetic surgery for men, but the language and images used in those advertisements are designed and tailor-made for today’s male consumers, so as not to make them feel effeminate, even though beauty products and cosmetic surgery have traditionally been for women only....
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