Fashioning gender

by Kwan, Lai-shan

Abstract (Summary)
(Uncorrected OCR) Abstract Women today are said to follow the ideal feminine beauty of the contemporary culture blindly. This dissertation aims at revealing the ideology behind this behaviour which leads to their obedience to the cultural norm. The ubiquitous advertisement is one of the most powerful means in disseminating the ideology in the contemporary culture, and in turn, fashioning femininity. Women? bodies are very often used in creating glamorous images in the ads, which contribute to shape the feminine beauty standard of the society. With women? breasts as the prime symbol of feminine sexual attractiveness, this dissertation will analyse the contemporary bra ads. John Berger and Erving Goffman have analysed a lot of cultural texts which reveal the binary relationship between men and women with women serving the inferior roles. Feminists including Sandra Bartky, Susan Bordo, Jean Kilbourne, Adrienne Rich and Naomi Wolf have criticized the contemporary culture which serves to maintain such a binary opposition, rendering women passively gripped by culture. Analysis of the bra ads shows that women suffer from a contradictory feeling of narcissism and self-hatred with their bodies, hinging on whether they can achieve the feminine beauty standard. As a result, women? value is reduced to their appearance. With women? bodies controlled by iii the cultural standard, the promotion and maintenance of the patriarchal order is facilitated. This hidden order in the bra ads will also be revealed through the analysis. The control of women? bodies is not only to maintain women in an inferior position but also to serve the heterosexual norm. The current feminine beauty standard is closely related to women? sexual attractiveness. Incorporation of pornographic criteria of attractiveness in the bra ads clearly shows the cultural control of women? sexuality, i.e. to serve men? fantasy. Not only is the hidden patriarchal heteronormative ideology revealed through the analysis, the internalization and naturalization of such an ideology in women are also illustrated. As a result, women actively engage in the promotion and maintenance of their own inferiority. Women have been gripped by the culture for too long and their value is subjected to men? approval. Even being a feminist, Susan Bordo joined a national weight-loss program trying to achieve the beauty standard. However, Bordo emphasizes the importance of raising consciousness of the hidden power structure masqueraded in the glamorous images of the media. Naomi Wolf also advocates the need to women? own choice of beauty. Women? guilty feeling resulted from the failure to control their bodies is women? enemy. This dissertation concludes by highlighting the importance to raise iv the consciousness of the hidden power structure in the media and promote acceptance of more than one single normative femininity. v
Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Hong Kong

School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:advertising brassiere social aspects feminine beauty aesthetics gender identity


Date of Publication:01/01/2004

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