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Mariah Wood

Professor Corri Ditch


English 113 A 8 AM
19 October 2014
A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words(Revision)
The image I have chosen to analyze is an ad for Alcoa's Aluminum Bottle Caps. In this visual
text, you see a picture of a young glamorous looking woman with an astonished face holding a ketchup
bottle hesitating to open it. Below the picture, there is a caption that says, You mean a woman can
open it? This ad comes from the madman era, where advertising was predominantly male. The word
woman is underlined, as if to emphasize how amazing it is that women are competent enough to
complete a simple and mindless task. The ad is devaluing women, and is arguing that woman are
incapable of doing any kind of physically strong job without the aid of a man. The ad also mocks and
trivializes their competence, and argues that a woman's self worth is based solely on her appearance,
and makes it seem like their only role as a woman is to be attractive and appealing to gaze at. This
leads to self esteem issues in women, but also allows men to judge a woman based on everything but
her intelligence. While I realize this advertisement may be rather outdated, sexist ads can be seen just
about anywhere in current-day society.
Beneath the caption in the image, it states that Alcoa's Aluminum bottle caps open without a
knife blade, a bottle opener, or even a husband. This statement mocks women's intelligence and puts
emphasis on the idea that women are always reliant on men for physically demanding jobs. Insulting
messages like these are what ultimately ravage one's self esteem, resulting in women doubting their
capabilities according to their gender. Whether the media throws out a message that is subtle or
extremely bold and self assertive, that message will stick in the back of the viewers mind, potentially
influencing the way they view themselves. The media is portraying the message that most, if not all
women have these characteristics, and puts more pressure on women to follow gender performance.

The media reinforces both stereotypes and even more belittling messages towards women, and for that
very reason society has low expectations in regards to women's strength.
Though it is believed that women are naturally weaker due to biology, science is not the direct
cause of any lack of female gender performance. In fact, in the article, Rethinking Women's Biology,
Ruth Hubbard states that women's biology is a social construct, and a political concept, not a scientific
one (Hubbard 46). In other words, outside sources such as media has an equally as powerful influence
on society's expectations of women, possibly even more-so than biology related studies. Women's
biology has been described by male physicians and scientists who wish to make women fulfill roles
that are exclusive for their well being, which is why these descriptions are inaccurate and leave women
so misunderstood by men.
One of the most common, but false characterizations of women is that they are weak and hyperemotional due to their hormones and reproductive organs. It is thought that women are completely
driven by their hormones and base their decisions based off their emotions, opposed to their logic. Due
to this constant stream of false generalizations put out by so-called experts, it is expected by society
that women are physically weaker, and incapable of taking on physically demanding jobs in every day
life. Another reason these stereotypes are forced upon women is because in general, male/female
comparisons are made between physically more highly trained men and less trained women so that the
so-called sex differences at least in part reflect this difference in activity levels(49). Though this is an
unfair and unrealistic comparison between genders, people come to believe that the vast majority of
men and women posses these physical characteristics, and as as result it twists one's perception of what
is truly natural. It is almost seen as attractive for women to be weak, because a women's role is to be
the obedient and passive one, while a man's role in society is to be the powerful and dominant one.
Feeling power boosts mens' masculinity, and makes them feel like they are carrying out an important
role by taking control of a woman.
Looking back at the picture, the woman in the image also appears shocked at the caption stating

You mean a woman can open it? The fact that the woman is so surprised by this displays the affect
that prescribed gender roles has on not only men's view of women, but women's view of themselves.
Doubt has been instilled in women because they are constantly surrounded by messages discouraging
them from empowering themselves. Success stories involving women are not brought up nearly as
much as shallow stories about the prettiest or sexiest actress or singer. Sexualized images and
videos of women can be seen everywhere, whether it be in ads, television shows, or magazines, and the
constant presence of this is applauding a woman's physical qualities, and nothing else. This is what
society sees as feminine, and because of that view of women gender performance is further
prompted. Due to the media's lack of coverage in women in politics, sports, etc, it is assumed that men
naturally fill out these jobs, while women take the natural role of a stay-at-home mom who is
unemployed. There are so many bright and talented women in the US, but the media recognizes very
few, so it conveys the message that though this person may have talent, it doesn't matter solely because
of their gender. In the article Are Women in the Media Only Portrayed As Sex Icons? Statistics Show
a Massive Gender Imbalance Across Industries, Sifat Azad mentions that only 26% of its news
sources were women. This show's that men are not only largely in charge of the government and news
in all aspects of society, but they also dominate the voices and news exposed to the broader
world(Azad). Women are hardly ever applauded for being intelligent or successful, but only for being
physically attractive. Our concepts of ourselves are socially constructed most of all, because society's
expectation of what is normal influences our own behavior.
Female objectification is shown in this image by the way the woman is dressed, and her posture
puts higher emphasis on her physical appearance, arguing that a women's self worth is purely based
upon her exterior appearance. As seen in the image, the woman is dressed in extravagant clothing with
red painted lips and nails, and she places her hand above the cap in a very dainty and feminine manner.
This itself is highlighting her exterior image more than other important qualities a person should focus
on, like intelligence and charisma. It is images like these that negatively influences people's views on

gender roles. The image conveys how women are apparently supposed to look, thus influencing how
women hold themselves, and how men look at them. Taking a look at ads on tv, in magazines, or just in
the media in general, one can almost immediately notice how much women are sexualized and
objectified. It is a rare sight to see ads that actually put a strong focus on the product they are
advertising. What is normally seen is a sexual image of a woman scantily clad holding the product and
posing in a provocative manner. Women are often put on display like commodities, or merchandise,
because the media knows well that sex sells. However, girls who are exposed to the media at a young
age do not recognize this at the time, and begin idolizing female icons that lack more important
qualities like intelligence. Women are presented in this manner in the media, and this is enforcing
gender roles that women feel the need to conform to.
Women develop self esteem issues at a very young age because they grow up around the media,
and they begin to believe what they see in the media is the standard set for real life. Women not only
suffer from self esteem problems due to steep beauty standards, but it also restricts women from taking
on more intelligent jobs in society, and makes them question whether or not their self worth is based
upon beauty. Women are extremely critical of themselves when it relates to beauty because society
implies that looking a certain way is one of the most important qualities. According to the article Sex
and Relationships in the Media, The pressure to put on women through ads, television, film, and new
media to be sexually attractive-and sexually active is profound...research has found that women's
representation in popular media has steadily become more and more sexualized over the last forty
years(Mary Trautner).Young girls begin to believe that being beautiful is their top priority, and
something they should strive to be as they mature. Beauty becomes the central focus for women, which
also leads men to believe that beauty is the only important quality to seek out in a woman, while every
other personality trait is miniscule in comparison.
The ad for Alcoa's Aluminum Bottle Caps is communicating an unhealthy message because it
convinces women that they are unintelligent and incapable of doing anything physical without the aid

of a man, and while doing so it encourages gender stereotypes, lowers women's self esteem and
encourages men to devalue and objectify women. Women are already under extreme pressure to
conform to society and feminine performance, but modern ads add to that stress of being accepted by
society. Not even women have confidence in themselves because society tells them that their beauty
and sexuality is their only hope of being successful, and no matter what they accomplish in life, they
will always be less skillful or qualified than a man. Unless society somehow manages to stop the sexual
objectification through the media and eliminate the many harmful stereotypes about women, women
will continue to conform to these steep gender-roles and we will continue to drift farther from gender
equality and preserve patriarchy.