Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Budweiser’s Recipe for Success

Since the beginning of this country’s history, both before, during, and after prohibition, alcoholic beverages have been a universally desired product amongst this consumer-driven economy. More specifically, this country’s beer industry has been one which has proven to withstand the test of time in its desirability standards. In regards to this statement, one may ask themselves how a product can remain as popular as it has throughout these years. To begin, let’s take a look at perhaps one of the oldest beer companies that exists in America: Budweiser. Budweiser, an American Lager, began its production in 1876 and since then has proudly claimed to have not “messed with perfection for more than 133 years” (“Budweiser: Our Beer”). However, in making this blatant statement, it has become necessary to analyze the true ingredients in this recipe for perfection: was it truly just the great tasting beer, or the added taste of their chosen advertisements that have attracted their particular male-based audience? With this, one may conclude that Budweiser has created their success by attracting men through advertising schemes that utilize misogynistic images of female sexuality, leading to the epitome of male satisfaction; that is, one involving both alcohol and women.

An overwhelming majority of Budweiser advertisements feature women whose sexuality has become extremely heightened. Such advertisements, including those shown above, target a male audience with hopes that the idea “sex sells” will persuade them to purchase their product. In the article “Image-Based Culture: Advertising & Popular Culture,” Jhally states “advertisers, working within a 'cluttered' environment in which there are more and more messages must have a way to break through the attendant noise. Sexuality provides a resource that can be used to get attention and communicate instantly" (253). This statement easily explains the exact phenomenon that Budweiser is playing into. By using images of sexually attractive, barely clothed women, Budweiser has successfully caught the eye of their potential male consumers, thus leading to the overall success of their product.

Nevertheless, not only do these portrayals of women merely catch the eye of such consumers, they give them hope that if they buy that specific Budweiser beer, then, in exchange, they too will attract women with similar appearances.  This self-satisfying notion produced by most men in this economy must be taken into high consideration while analyzing such a product. Since it is most likely that women will not be as persuaded by these advertisements as men, it becomes even clearer that women are not included in this company’s target audience, yet their bodies are still being exploited in order to sell their product. This, without a doubt, is an example of the common use and overall acceptance of misogyny in this society. In the noted words of Breazeale, “misogyny existed in popular culture long before Esquire; what Esquire demonstrated was that woman-trashing as such could be packaged and sold to a large, prosperous bourgeois audience” (240). In comparison with Esquire now, Budweiser as a company is just as bad in its “attempt to seduce and construct the male consumer” (Breazeale 240) through its demeaning representations of women that, like Esquire, are largely depicted in numerous magazines; the only difference is that their influence has become so strong that it is rarely noticeable to the average consumer, those who have ultimately become subordinate to its underlying messages and, in result, continue to buy Budweiser beer.

Works Cited 

Breazeale, Kenon. "In Spite of Women: Esquire Magazine and the Construction of the Male Consumer." Signs. 20.1 (1994): 230-43. Print.

"Budweiser: Kind of Beers." Quote Scoop. Web. 2 Aug 2011. <>.

"Budweiser: Our Beer." Budweiser: Brewing the Finest American Beer. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 2010. Web. 2 Aug 2011. <>.

"Bud Girls." Scenic Reflections. Web. 2 Aug 2011. <>.

"Budweiser: The Great American Lager." Quote Scoop. Web. 2 Aug 2011. <>.

"Budweiser: Where There’s Life There’s Bud." Quote Scoop. Web. 2 Aug 2011. <http://www.inspirational->.

"Budweiser: Where There’s Life There’s Bud (Vintage)." Quote Scoop. Web. 2 Aug 2011. <>.

“It's Nympho Time - Budweiser the King of Booty.” Quote Scoop. Web. 2 Aug 2011. <>.

Jhally, Sut. "Image-Based Culture: Advertising & Popular Culture." Gender, Race, and Class in Media. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 249-57. Print.

"Sexy Version of Budweiser Ads." Quote Scoop. Web. 2 Aug 2011. <>.

Top 10 Unusual Lawsuits. Web. 2 Aug 2011. <>.

"Top 25 Sexiest Beer Print Ads." Web. 2 Aug 2011. <>.

"Woman Giving Budweiser a Bath." Quote Scoop. Web. 2 Aug 2011. <>.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Genered Consumers - Toy Shopping

Lauren is a ten year old girl growing up in the town of Cinnaminson, New Jersey. While being raised in what may be classified as an average New Jersey, suburban community, her parents granted her with the opportunity of experiencing the average middle-class indulgences. As a hobby, Lauren enjoyed bike riding around her neighborhood with friends. However, while at home, her real interest rested in her large collection of Barbie Dolls. Barbie, an overly-popular American doll, has been a much needed item by a large population of females in all age groups across the United States. Though Barbie is an accessible item for children in nearly every socioeconomic class, this doll sends a message that facilitates the understanding of normative gender roles and stereotypes for young girls, which ultimately relays a further message as to what it means to be a female adult in this country.  

While searching through the well-known toy store, Toys-R-Us, one can find a Barbie doll in a large variety of prices. In fact, these dolls range in price from $6.99 to $149.99.  This made it very easy for Lauren, living a middle-class lifestyle, to obtain her large collection of Barbie dolls. Likewise, with such a large price variance, children of all socioeconomic backgrounds have become enabled to obtain this popular item. It is for this reason why Barbie is considered by many to be not only a satisfying toy for their children, but also a blameless purchase by the parents of all classes. 

Unfortunately, however, the majority of these parents have yet to realize that this blameless purchase actually has a blameworthy implication on the overall growth of their child. As parents buy Barbie dolls for their children, rarely do they see them as tools that shape their child’s character. Instead, they see them as toys that simply make their child happy and keep occupied for the time being. Though one can make a case for this assumption, it is important that parents begin to oversee this initial belief and notice the substantial impact Barbie has in developing their child’s understanding of gender roles and stereotypes in this society.

According to Newman, “a toy manufacturer's catalog or web site reveals that toys and games remain solidly segregated along gender lines. Decades of research indicate that ‘girls' toys’ still revolve around theme of domesticity, fashion, and motherhood and ‘boys’ toys’ emphasize action and adventure” (Newman 112). This statement applies directly to Barbie’s impact on young girls. For girls, the gender identity created by Barbie is one that emphasizes femininity through beauty and fashion. For example, if Lauren’s parents went on Toys-R-Us’ website to buy her a new Barbie doll and searched “Barbie doll Age 10” they would find numerous Barbies, 127 to be exact, all promoting princesses, superstars, fashionistas, and most importantly, heterosexual marriage. 
Though these depictions of Barbie may seem innocent at first, their underlying message is quite the opposite. That is, each depiction represents a powerful message for the girl who is receiving them at that particular time in their life. It is for these young girls, who may begin playing with Barbie at the mere age of 3, that our society must become more conscious of the demeaning roles and stereotypes that these dolls are promoting. After all, it cannot be the responsibility of these young girls to recognize such an issue.

To the young girl, playing with Barbie is fun; they do not see it as something that will shape their behavior through the rest of their life. Consequently, however, these ‘fun’ toys are simply another way of enforcing this society’s take on hegemonic femininity. James Lull defines hegemony as “the power or dominance that one social group holds over others” and “a method for gaining and maintaining power” (Lull 61). In this specific situation, Barbie is exerting her power of gender identity over young, vulnerable females, ultimately telling them that their gender role entails wearing nice clothes, being extremely thin, and eventually marrying a handsome man.

Despite the fact that these behaviors are learned at such young ages, they tend to grow and even intensify with the child throughout their life. Playing with Barbie, constantly dressing her up in fancy clothes and styling her hair will only make that child believe that that is what she is supposed to be doing to herself. More importantly, the fact that Barbie has a relationship with a man, Ken, instills the belief in the minds of these young girls that they themselves must become desired by a man. On the whole, all of these messages will eventually give meaning to what it means to be a female adult in this country.  

The question now becomes why this society must begin to instill such powerful messages to girls of such young ages. Newman has stated that “by the age of five or so, most children have developed a fairly extensive repertoire of gender stereotypes (often incorrect) that they then apply to themselves” (Newman 113) By embedding these ideas of gender roles in the minds of young girls, other marketers will too be able to appeal to their obtained gender stereotypes through advertisements for other products promoting femininity. Now it’s not Barbie, but yet another item that reinforces feminine stereotypes and gender roles.

Think about it. These messages Barbie is sending are not so innocent now, are they? In a way, Barbie exists to make a child a lifetime consumer of products marketed towards her learned gender role. Now the challenge will become living up to this unrealistic image of Barbie, thus creating a goal so unattainable that it will most likely continue throughout that child’s entire life. 


Lull, James. "Hegemony." Gender, Race, and Class in Media. 'Ed'. Gail Dines, Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. Print.

Newman, David M. Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2006. Print.

Web. 27 Jul 2011. <>.

Web. 27 Jul 2011. <,r:15,s:24>.

Web. 27 Jul 2011. <>.

Web. 27 Jul 2011. <>.

Web. 27 Jul 2011. <>.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Constructs of Femininity and Masculinity Portrayed in Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives, an ABC original series, has gained popular recognition in the television industry since its original premier in 2004. In specific, this series, which will be going into its eighth season this coming September, tells the fictional, yet intriguing story of the lives of five women living in the suburbs of Wisteria Lane. Though this show has come to be highly appreciated by many of its viewers, it is imperative that one also notes the not-so-appreciative portrayal of women that this show also depicts. One episode that does a great job highlighting such depictions is Season 5 Episode 21 entitled “Bargaining.” In sum, this episode uses the character Gabrielle Solis to emphasize hegemonic masculinity and patriarchal lifestyles through the reinforcement of America’s feminine stereotypes. 

To begin this analysis in regards to patriarchy, one can refer to the opening remarks of the show when Gabrielle is shown kissing her husband goodbye as he leaves for work and promises him that she will make him his favorite dinner if he brings her roses upon his return. In addition, a few moments later, Gabrielle is then shown vacuuming their living room floor. The key to understanding this stereotypical, feministic exploitation is being able to realize that the producers chose to show Gabrielle performing such acts not because it fit well in the storyline, but because, as accepted by most Americans, that is what a female is expected to do. 

An additional illustration of patriarchy in this episode occurred while Gabrielle was sitting around a table with her four girlfriends and proudly exclaimed, “I am the wife of Fairview’s Latino businessman of the year!” This is important because it is not her own career she was excited about, it is her husband’s, ultimately telling viewers that a wife should be proud of her husband’s corporate accomplishments and not worry about her own. This is because, as was mentioned previously, Gabrielle’s character was made to encompass this country’s feminine stereotype. 

Each of the above examples undoubtedly support the American theory of patriarchy, which as stated by Johnson, can be referred to as the “valuing of masculinity and maleness” (Johnson 94) and the “devaluing of femininity and femaleness and the primary importance of a husband's career and the secondary status of a wife's” (Johnson 94). Though however unfortunate, this society functions around a lifestyle in which men have a disproportionate share of power where men and women are considered opposites. Since there has yet to be any complete rejections to this patriarchal theory, it allows for stereotypes to easily be incorporated into the varying forms of media today, especially television. 

Moving further, in relation to the emphasis placed on hegemonic masculinity through the usage of feminine stereotypes, much could be used to support this analysis. Aside from the fact that Gabrielle is made to be seen as a woman who’s life basically revolves around that of her husband’s, this show’s producers also exploit her femininity in an extremely demeaning manner in this episode. In particular, it all began when Gabrielle was called to come pick her daughter, Juanita, up from school because she was wearing an unnecessarily heavy amount of makeup. Gabrielle, who had no idea that Juanita put on makeup before she left the house, was extremely embarrassed by this occurrence and asked her why she had done such a thing. To her surprise, Juanita replied by explaining to her that the girls at school were making fun of her and saying that she was not pretty enough to be Gabrielle’s daughter. 

In the next scene, Gabrielle and her husband, Carlos, are shown talking to Juanita about what happened and what they can do to make the situation better. To summarize, Carlos decides that it would be a good idea if Gabrielle went to his formal dinner party where he was to accept his award for Fairview’s Latino businessman of the year without any makeup on to show their daughter that it is not makeup that makes a female beautiful. Though at first this seems as if it would be sending a positive message to females, it is quickly reversed to show quite the opposite. In fact, Gabrielle quickly pulls her husband aside and says “I am not walking into a ballroom full of people without my face on,” explaining to him that she will not look beautiful without her foundation. Nevertheless, Carlos still convinces her into going through with his idea as Gabrielle ends with the note “Fine, I will make the ultimate sacrifice and be ugly for my daughter.” 

Unfortunately, just as one thinks this is where the message will be ending, it gets worse. Gabrielle, Carlos, and Juanita arrive at the party and Gabrielle immediately states that she feels as if she looks like Carlos’ “anemic lesbian sister.” Then, as the first person comes up to greet their family, Gabrielle announces “I’m not ill, I’m just not wearing makeup” and continued to restate that same claim to everyone that approached her. This occurrence clearly displayed Gabrielle's discontent with her natural self especially because, despite her own belief, she still looked beautiful without the makeup. 

Not only does such a depiction tell it’s viewers that to be a woman you must do whatever it takes to make yourself appear beautiful by use of makeup, it also complies to Wolf’s theory of the Beauty Myth. The Beauty Myth, as explained by Wolf, is a social ideal that shapes women’s behaviors and appearances and tells women that “the quality called ‘beauty’ objectively and universally exists” (Wolf 121). This ultimately influences women to want to exemplify such a quality themselves and they do so by manipulating their appearances. 

Furthermore, the Beauty Myth also explains how women are their own worst enemies (Wolf 122). This is also illustrated in this episode of Desperate Housewives. As the night comes close to an end, Gabrielle gets so overwhelmed by her own conscious telling her she looks horrible that she rushes to the bathroom to try to find someone who will let her use their makeup. During this process, one girl actually looks at her and tells her that she really does look sick and no one else wants to help her. According to the Beauty Myth, this was all due to the competitive factor that drives women against each other. Because men want to be with women who are ‘beautiful,’ women have all come to be intimidated by each other’s appearances. 

Lastly, this episode closes with a final reinforcement of femininity by portraying Gabrielle’s motherly qualities. In short, Gabrielle is shown as a nurturing mother comforting her daughter about the day’s events while tucking her into bed. This scene shows how child care is a priority in a woman’s life because it is Gabrielle tucking her daughter in and not her husband. Additionally, the fact that Gabrielle holds the role of the primary caregiver shows how “hegemony requires that ideological assertion becomes self-evident cultural assumptions” (Lull 62-63). In this society, America’s accepted culture still glorifies the old assumption that the female, or wife, is to embody the nurturing, caring role in their child’s life rather than the husband. This is because the mass media’s influence has become so strong over the people that it is not always noticeable to those who are subordinate to its messages. 

On the whole, it may be appropriate to consider “Bargaining” as being quite over-productive in its process of constructing an understanding of femininity and masculinity in this episode. With such a strong emphasis in patriarchy and hegemonic masculinity by use of many feminine stereotypes, it would be extremely hard for the viewer to avoid the absorption of these beliefs made about gender in this element of popular culture. “Bargaining” tells its viewers that women must cater to and support their husband in his occupation, must exemplify ‘beauty,’ and must be the primary caregiver to their children. If both the women and men of this country do not soon realize this negative influence that the mass media holds over the people, this country will continue in a downward spiral of subordination and will never successfully escape the media’s gender-binding control. 

Works Cited

Johnson, Allan. "Patriarchy, the System: An It, Not a He, a Them, or an Us." It's Not Just about Gender. (1997): 91-98. Print.

Lull, James. "Hegemony." Gender, Race, and Class in Media. 'Ed'. Gail Dines, Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. Print.

Wolf, Naomi. "The Beauty Myth." Female Beauty. (1991): 120-125. Print.