Archives par mot-clef : gender

Are women fighting against stereotypes or internalising them? (1/2)

In society, when we talk about « equality » between men and women, we often think about salaries, careers, or who does the household chores. We don’t however talk so much about equality amongst children when it comes to play, cultural activities and sports. However, the way that children are educated has a lot of influence on the way that gender representations are passed on. Such is evident in the latest film by Guillaume Gallienne « Les Garçons et Guillaume à table! » In cinemas 20th November 2013.

Since female emancipation, people, and women in particular, have continued to fight the injustices of gender relations.

However, stereotypes still exist in society, and are ingrained from a very young age. How can this be explained? This question was asked in a survey conducted in October 2013 on 1284 women by Womenology for (1) What kind of stereotypes still exist in family education? Do mums educate girls and boys in the same way? Why do boys rarely play with dolls?

Are Brand Names Gendered?

Bénédicte Laurent

Bénédicte LAURENT is the leader and founder of the Namae Concept (advising company in brand creation). She has a doctorate in General linguiscs and phonetics since April 2006. She is also known for her book,  Nom de marque, nom de produit : sémantique du nom déposé (2010)

Is there a gendered typology for brands?

In languages where the object names in the current language have a gender, we can identify trends in product positioning and / or report that the brand wants to establish between the product and the consumer.

Similarly, in English languages, for example, where objects have no gender, a rather feminine and masculine imagination is built, even if not directly apprehended in terms of gender, but rather impressions ( » sweet « , » technology « , etc..).

This does not mean that we always have a feminine name for women’s products and male names for men’s products. But according to the fields, the relationships established and the constructed image of the product are quite explicit. Thus, women’s razors are called: Venus Lissea, Pure, Bikini, Intuition, which refers to the world of women, for men, we find Blue Gillette Mach, Mach3 Turbo, Sensor, Wilkinson Sword, BodyCruzer…

It would be interesting to know the sales result for the model Epilady for men; this could guide us on the degree of impact of a name on the sales!
Other products much for women ( have male names, because the promise of sale is much more based on technological efficiency: Kompressor, SilentStar, PerfomerPro, Compacteo, Soleo, Devil … And to evoke powerful products reliable and technology, our performances still go through an image of the male …

CK One: androgyny a hymn to equality

In recent decades, a profound change troubles the boundaries of gender, partly triggered by the emancipation of women. This disruption of genders finds its apotheosis in the figure of the androgynous aesthetic, used by some brands in their communication strategy. This model of beauty carries the contemporary values of our time.

Socio-historical perspective about gender evolution

In the past, the gender was governed by strict standards; individuals couldn’t take personal position. From Ancient Greece to the 18th century, the large institutions: Church, Family, State, was the ones disclosing the major codes to follow. Individual behaviour, gender roles, simply stemmed and arbitrarily the biological sex of individuals arose.

Since the French Revolution, amongst other, new values have emerged in Western society, those of freedom and equality. This is the era of modernity. Individualism has become the backbone of everyday life.

Previously, a framework governed the individuals’ behaviour, now they are faced with their personal choices about their lives in which they are in charge.

The gender that can be defined as a social and historically construction, framed by traditional standards, is particularly impacted by this new situation. Gender identities, that is to say, masculinity and femininity, may appear illegitimate in a modern society essentially egalitarian, where everyone defends its interests and own identity.

« E-gender communication”: habit, opportunism or real commitment?

« If the ‘I’ accompanies all our thoughts, it is not a neutral subject, we never stop even for a moment to feel like a man or a woman, » states Colette Chiland psychoanalyst. (1)

Gender, an essential prism

Belonging to a gender is a founding component of personal identity. In other words, whether people like it or not, their identity is « gendered. » The concept of « gender » was born in the United States in the 70s, in parallel with the development of feminist movements. But the sociologists, psychologists, philosophers, are not the only ones interested in this issue. « Marketers », concerned by the requirements of sales, have meanwhile developed the basis of « gender marketing. » They proposed to differentiate and advertise products according to the gender.

This vision, which appeared in the United States, is often accused of sexism in France. However, communicating the gender is not always synonymous of stereotyping; this strategy can be a vector of modernity in advertisements.

E-advertising and gender: a stormy relationship between stereotypes and progressivism

At the Digital era, polemics disperse at the speed of light on the web. Those who choose to provide advertisements about gender are considered traditional and are often criticized. But what can we retain about the e-gender communication? How does it manifest itself and what are the real opportunities and risks? Five master students from the MISC CELSA joined Dagobert to produce a case study about Gender Marketing at the digital era. (2)

The Jeu de Paume houses a retrospective of the artist Claude Cahun, pioneer of sexual identity

From the 24th of May to the 25th of September 2011, the Jeu de Paume museum is organising a retrospective dedicated to Claude Cahun, a writer, artist and photographer from the first half of the 20th century who was one of the first people to consider the issues of gender.

Claude Cahun, née Lucy Schwob (1894-1954), was therefore one of the first artists to appreciate the mixture of femininity and masculinity that characterises each human being. She depicted this discovery in her self-portraits, which were extremely daring for the time, where she sometimes made herself up as a woman and sometimes as a man, going as far as to shave her head to perfect the look. She wanted to portray a « third gender », at the boundary between androgyny and bisexuality, as shown by this quote from the artist which is displayed at the entrance to the exhibition: « Confuse people. Masculine? Feminine? But that depends on the case. Neutral is the only gender which always suits me. »

The social construction of gender: the example of Laure becoming Michael in the movie ‘Tomboy’

Tomboy illustrates the idea defended by Judith Butler that we play up to our sexual identity, which is a game and a social construction.

Laure is 10 years old and is a tomboy. Arriving in a new neighbourhood, she makes Lisa and her gang believe she is a boy. Summer becomes a big playground and Laure becomes Michael, a boy like the others … but different enough to attract the attention of Lisa who falls in love. See the full story.

This film is a good illustration of Judith Butler’s theory that sexual gender is a social construct. This is because we play the role, from our childhood, of a girl or boy who is a boy or girl. In this film you can see what happens to a girl who tries to pass as a boy; name changing, manly games (soccer, fighting), shirtless sports (she is still flat-chested), hair cut short, a one piece bathing suit, adding a Plasticine willy when swimming, trying to wee standing up, etc.

‘Gender Trouble’ by Judith Butler and the question of ‘performing gender’ decoded by Raphaël Lellouche

Here is the decoded theory by the semiotician Raphaël Lellouche of the performativity of gender developed by Judith Butler. The idea developed by Judith Butler is that we are not men or women but that we perform our gender, we play man or woman. Butler’s theory of gender as a performative construction is taken from Austin and Searle.

To start, there is Austins theory. Performativity is a theory of language: when you say it, you do it. Austin has established a distinction; it is why he is well known. We always analyse sentences, propositions of language, and language images as a state of things in reality. A sentence is reality. The famous example is « The cat is on the mat ». There is a cat on a mat drawn on an image or I’m in front of them now, and I say, by showing them « it is on the mat ». If the cat is not there and neither the doormat, I am asked « Where is the cat? And I say » The cat is on the mat « .

“Gender, Design and Marketing”, a book justifying marketing to women with biological arguments

Males Females
Type of objects Self-propelling objects (ships, cars, planes, rockets) Static objects (plants, flowers, furniture, landscape)
Message Printed word Not printed word
Typography Standard typography Decorated typography
Main actor Males Females
Type of image Caricature Photograph
Human form Profile Frontal and smiling
Background Skyscrapers and towers Houses, windows, and roomsn
Themes Violence / Technology Daily life

So why is all this relevant? A key conclusion of the book is that men and women’s preferences match their production. Thus, the features that distinguish the graphic output of males and females will also be features that men and women prefer. In the practical sense, this means that male designers will tend to design with moving objects and the printed word, and those types of ads will appeal more to men. Women will design with static objects and smiling faces, which will have more appeal to other women. By examining the subconscious design preferences, we can thus establish a smarter way to market to women based on subtle, underlying preferences.

More specifically, two principles from the book show how the designer of an ad can have a much bigger impact than we’d like to think. The similarity principle, exhaustively researched in psychology, means that two people with similar personalities tend to attract one another. This is completed by the mirroring principle that shows people are attracted to objects that mirror their own self-concept. In marketing, this translates to “like attracts like:” women will prefer a design done by a woman, simply because it will have elements in it that tend to attract women.

The lesson is clear. Since people respond positively to finished products created by people similar to themselves, marketers should adapt their strategy to take this into account. By examining the subconscious design preferences, we can thus establish a smarter way to market to women based on subtle, underlying preferences.


Cultural or social arguments are often used to explain aesthetic differences between men and women, but Gloria Moss shows that scientific explanations are much more convincing.

Neuro-scientific research suggests that men and women’s brains react differently when being showed an ad. Men encode fewer claims and prefer simple advertisements that concentrate on no more than one or two features. This is because they have item-specific processing skills which lead them to extract the core of the ad and neglect the rest. Women, on the contrary, are comprehensive processors who attempt to assimilate all available information before rendering judgment. In this way, they prefer complex ads containing rich and detailed information on multiple features. Due to differing levels of brain lateralization, women also have a greater affinity for purely verbal information, whereas men benefit from visual reinforcement.

An illustrative example is in men and women’s ability to perceive color differently. A greater proportion of men than women are colorblind (which means they only have two cones for perceiving pigments in their eyes as opposed to three which is the norm). Additionally, a larger proportion of women have four cones which allows them to perceive hundreds of millions of color pigments, a hundred times more than most men can perceive. Researchers have noted that this may be an evolutionary trait, as women’s better perception of color would have been helpful during hunter-gatherer times in distinguishing berries from foliage, and ripe versus unripe fruit. Men, on the other hand, would have had a distinct advantage in hunting at night with less color sensitivity, given that two cones instead of three heighten night vision; another evolutionary aid.

Not simply limited to the amount of colors men and woman can perceive, biology can also explain preferences for certain colors over others. Men and women have different cortical responses to the stimulation of blue and red light wavelengths: women are more sensitive than men to the long-wave spectrum of light that detects red. Ergo, they were found to have a significant memory advantage for the purple-pink range of colors. The popular belief that women like pink because it symbolizes love can thus maybe be explained not by romanticism, but… their brain chemistry.

The most robust and persistent biological difference between sexes, however, lies in visio-spatial abilities. A meta-analysis of 300 studies on visio-spatial differences concluded that sex differences in spatial abilities favoring males are highly significant; on average, males outperform females in mental rotation and spatial perception. This and other research conclusively show that biological factors shape the perception of both men and women, and that gender differences in perception are not only socially constructed. Next time we try to stereotype ads portraying men and high-speed objects, we should remind ourselves that there might be more to the cliché than meets the eye…


“Women and men do not have the same design aesthetic.”

While this may seem obvious to the casual reader, many marketers have not taken advantage of different gender preferences to target advertising, products, and even the layouts of stores in order to maximize appeal for different sexes. With so few companies doing serious marketing to women, any company that makes an effort can expect to capture a disproportionate share of the women’s market.

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