Feminine and Masculine Ideals of Venus Embrace

Every once in a while, if I find the time, I’ll flip through a Seventeen magazine to relax and see what’s new in the world of fashion and pop culture. The last time I did this I stumbled upon an advertisement for Venus Embrace razors that caught my attention. It displays a man and a woman in an embrace with the phrase, “Goddess of he’s mine”. This ad caught my attention because the people seemed very happy and simply loving their life, but also fairly sexualized. I chose this advertisement to analyze because it strongly reinforces the “typical” male and female roles and portrays them as something that is desirable to the readers of Seventeen magazines. However, I believe that the advertisement has aspects an inflected oppositional reading. The three main ways in which it does this is by reinforcing masculine hegemony along with the ideals of masculinity and femininity; reinforcing the stereotypical roles for men and women to follow; yet, the ad communicates a conflicting message about power between the characters. It conveys these messages through appearance of the characters, the behaviours of the characters, and finally the character position and “slogan” of the advertisement.

One important part of this ad to look at is the support of masculine hegemony and feminine ideals, through the appearance of the characters. The characters of the male and female are explicitly shown as models that the audience should be like, and the anti-models are implied to be the opposite of the presented characters. The woman is seen as a model because she is thin, pretty, happy, and very feminine. The man is seen as masculine, fit and handsome; he emphasizes masculine hegemony because he is a heterosexual male who fits into a specific category of masculinity. Furthermore, the feminine ideals are displayed through the woman’s little pink bikini, smooth legs, and pretty hairstyle. These ideals being reinforced isn’t good because they teach the audience of the ad (typically women ages 13-20) that all of these qualities are what you need to be happy in a relationship, like the people in this advertisement.

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Another aspect of the advertisement to consider is the portrayal of male and female roles through the behaviours of the characters. For example, the man staring at the woman’s legs is an instance of “male gaze” because he sees her as a sexual object to be stared at. This is especially detrimental to women since most of the viewers of this ad are women, who are supposed to identify with the female character. If they do this, they may see it as okay for men to appreciate them solely based on their physical attributes and their beauty.

Finally, the part of this advertisement that encourages me to categorize it as an inflected oppositional reading is the conflicting message that it sends about patriarchy and power within the relationship. It seems as though the woman is in power because she has “claimed” her man; this can be seen in the slogan “Goddess of he’s mine” displayed beside the couple, and the way that the woman is embracing the man. Both of these things contribute to the woman’s empowerment because, the possessive quality of the slogan leads the audience to believe that she has power over the man, and the embrace does the same, since the woman is in control in their positioning. Nonetheless, this is a mere bending of patriarchy because it appears that the woman only got her power through being attractive and being something that the man wanted. If she was less desirable to the man, she would likely not be in power. This is a negative message to women as it shows beauty as a necessity to gain power, which is not the case.

It is beneficial to think critically about these types of advertisements in order to question the messages that magazines are sending to young readers, specifically female readers. These messages of beauty and strict feminine and masculine roles are fairly dominant throughout Seventeen magazines, and it makes me wonder, is this really what the media should be teaching young women?

Images courtesy of Seventeen magazine.

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2 thoughts on “Feminine and Masculine Ideals of Venus Embrace

  1. This feminist/gender analysis was written on a very appropriately chosen topic; a Seventeen magazine is an sea of feminist and gender issues.

    You have a very particular writing style which I enjoy; your thoughts are clear, concise and down to the point (I also appreciated the use of different colours in your post).

    Your introductory paragraph does a great job of introducing your topic. I like how you introduced it with a fun anecdote (it is a blog after all) it flowed really well into your thesis. Your thesis is clearly stated and your supporting details are all summarized in your introduction. However, I believe the last sentence (“It conveys these messages through appearance of the characters, the behaviours of the characters, and finally the character position and “slogan” of the advertisement.”) is unnecessary because it gives away your supporting details. I feel you could have cut this part out and just left your main thesis.

    Your strongest argument is your third one about patriarchal messages in the relationship. The dynamic of the picture would seem to the untrained eye (that the woman has the power). However, you analyzed it further and realized a bending of patriarchy and the implications it has on the text. This argument is strong because your use of evidence is impeccable. Not only did you assess the text on a base level, you took it to another level and analyzed the implications of the evidence. You did a great job doing so.

    Your weakest argument is your second one about the portrayal of men and women’s roles. Relative to your other sections, this paragraph has less examples and less material. You begin this section by saying how the advertisement reinforces male and female roles through their behaviours. However, you seem to only point out a specific male behaviour and the implications it has on the audience. This only reinforces a man’s role. This argument would have been significantly stronger if you also assessed an aspect of the female’s behaviour (maybe how she’s hugging the man, or how she has her legs wrapped around him).

    Overall, your ideas are original and thought provoking. Your writing style is very engaging and has a nice consistent flow. This made it very interesting to read (as well as interesting to think about!). For future reference, make sure all your pictures and images work before submitting it.

    All in all, well done Krista!

  2. Pingback: The Disciples of Satin are Athletic, Muscular and Fit — The Ideal Feminine Physique! | SatinTheNewSavior's Blog

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