The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, the model offered by Thomas Rochon is used to examine how ideas, activism, and changing American values have influenced advertiser practices as they relate to sexualized images of men in mainstream media. Previous research has highlighted the importance of economic shifts on advertiser practices, ignoring the importance of cultural factors, such as the influence of the gay liberation movement on representations of masculinity in the post 1960s era. Second, a quantitative analysis of sexualized depictions of masculinity is presented. These data suggest that men in contemporary advertisements increasingly display the visual cues of objectification. After positioning these sexualized images in a larger social, political, and economic context, the implications of male objectification is discussed.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Adam, B. (1995). The rise of a gay and lesbian movement (2nd ed.). New York: Twayne.
Albert, E. (1986). Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome: The victim and the press. Studies in Communications, 3 135-158.
Almost Miller time for a gay pitch. (1999, July 13). New York Times, p. C8.
Alreck, P. (1995). Commentary: Anew formula for gendering products and brands. Journal of Product and Brand Management, 3(1), 6-18.
Alsop, R. (1988, January 26). Advertisers retreat from making direct pitch to the gay market. Wall Street Journal, p. A33.
Alsop, R. (1999a, June 29). Cracking the gay market: How marketers plant symbols in ads. Wall Street Journal, p. B1.
Alsop, R. (1999b, December 30). Are gay people more affluent than others? Wall Street Journal, p. B1.
Barringer, F. (1998, May 25). Small Gannett paper won't print gay weekly. New York Times, p. C5.
Barthel, D. (1994). A gentleman and a consumer. In S. Maasik & J. Solomon (Eds.), Signs of life in the U.S.A.: Readings on popular culture for writers (pp. 128-138). Boston: Bedford Books.
Bordo, S. (1999). The male body: A new look at men in public and in private. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
Brownfield, P. (1999, July 21). As minorities' TVpresence dims, gay roles proliferate. Los Angeles Times, p. A1.
Clark, D. (1995). Commodity lesbianism. In G. Dines & J. Humez (Eds.), Gender, race and class in media: A text reader (pp. 142-151). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Connell, R. W. (1995). Masculinities. Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Coward, R. (1992). The body beautiful. In M. Schaum & C. Flanagan (Eds.), Gender images: Readings for composition (pp. 412-418). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
D'Emilio, J. (1998). Sexual politics, sexual communities: The making of a homosexual minority in the United States, 1940-1970 (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Dow, B. (1996). Prime-time feminism: Television, media culture, and the women's movement since 1970. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Dunlap, D. (1995, November 12). Gay advertising campaign on TV draws wrath of conservatives. New York Times, p. A15.
Ehrenreich, B. (1983). The hearts of men: American dreams and the flight from commitment. New York: Anchor Books.
Elliott, S. (1992a, June 10). Dutch promotion for gay travelers. New York Times, p. C15.
Elliott, S. (1992b, September 23). A market that's educated, affluent, and homosexual. New York Times, p. C3.
Elliott, S. (1992c, October 19). Calvin Klein buys ad in gay magazine. New York Times, p. C7.
Elliott, S. (1993, January 28). Few advertisers for gay program. New York Times, p. C18.
Elliott, S. (1994a, March 29). Ikea ads feature gay customers. New York Times, p. C16.
Elliott, S. (1994b, June 24). For gay consumers, sales pitches are getting more personal. New York Times, p. C17.
Elliott, S. (1994c, September 29). In a first for an auto company, Saab takes its message to magazines for gay men and lesbians. New York Times, p. C16.
Elliott, S. (1995a, August 17). Ad spending rises in gay publications. New York Times, p. C5.
Elliott, S. (1995b, October 6). Martina Navratilova is in a campaign aimed at gay consumers. New York Times, p. C4.
Elliott, S. (1996, August 22). Ad spending rises in gay publications. New York Times, p. C4.
Elliott, S. (2000a, March 13). Martina Navratiolova enters the national mainstream market in a campaign for Subaru. New York Times, p. C14.
Elliott, S. (2000b, July 25). Gay financial site tests ad. New York Times, p. C8.
Epstein, C. (1988). Deceptive distinctions: Sex, gender, and the social order. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Fabrikant, G. (1989, November 14). Ads reportedly lost because of a gay scene. New York Times, p. C15.
Faludi, S. (1992). Backlash: The undeclared war against American women. New York: Anchor Books.
Farhi, P. (1991, December 4). Post's ad policy draws protest from area gays. Washington Post, p. F1.
Fishburn, K. (1982). Women in popular culture: A reference guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood.
Fiske, J. (1987). Television culture. New York: Methuen.
Fracher, J., & Kimmel, M. (1995). Hard issues and soft spots: Counseling men about sexuality. In M. Kimmel & M. Messner (Eds.), Men's lives (3rd ed., pp. 365-374). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Fraser, L. (1999, March/April). The hard body sell. Mother Jones, pp. 31-32.
Friedan, B. (1963). The feminist mystique. New York: Norton.
Gay press looks to Madison Ave. (1990, December 17). New York Times, p. C12.
Glassner, B. (1995). Men and muscles. In M. Kimmel & M. Messner (Eds.), Men's lives (3rd ed., pp. 252-261). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Goffman, E. (1979). Gender advertisements. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Goldman, R. (1995). Constructing and addressing the audience as commodity. In G. Dines & J. Humez (Eds.), Gender, race and class in media: A text reader (pp. 88-92). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Gorman, T. (1993, March 8). Palm Springs makes bid for gays' dollars. Los Angeles Times, p. A3.
Gross, L. (1995). Out of the mainstream: Sexual minorities and the mass media. In G. Dines & J. Humez (Eds.), Gender, race and class in media: A text reader (pp. 61-69). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Hanke, R. (1998). Theorizing masculinity with/in the media. Communication Theory, 8 183-202.
Harris, S. (1984, January 15). Major firms are in active pursuit of the gay dollar: Advertising campaigns at group's above-average discretionary income. Los Angeles Times, p. D1.
Hennessy, R. (1998). Queer visibility in commodity culture. In M. Rogers (Ed.), Contemporary feminist theory (pp. 140-150). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Horovitz, B. (1994, April 5). TV commercial featuring gay couple creates a Madison Avenue uproar. Los Angeles Times, p. D1.
Jefferson, D. (1993, April 22). Businesses offering products for gays are thriving: Rise in activism and public acceptance of lifestyles increases demand. Wall Street Journal, p. B2.
Jhally, S. (1995). Image-based culture: Advertising and popular culture. In G. Dines & J. Humez (Eds.), Gender, race and class in media: A text reader (pp. 77-88). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Katz, J. (1995). Advertising and the construction of violent White masculinity. In G. Dines & J. Humez (Eds.), Gender, race and class in media: A text reader (pp. 133-141). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Kilbourne, J. (1999). Deadly persuasion: Why women and girls must fight the addictive power of advertising. New York: Free Press.
Kimmel, M. (1996). Manhood in America: A cultural history. New York: Free Press.
Kuhn, A. (1995). Lawless seeing. In G. Dines & J. Humez (Eds.), Gender, race and class in media: A text reader (pp. 88-92). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
LaFrance, E. (1995). Men, media, and masculinity. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.
LeMoncheck, L. (1985). Dehumanizing women: Treating persons as sex objects. Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Allanheld.
LeVay, S., & Nonas, E. (1995). City of friends: A portrait of the gay and lesbian community in America. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Loftus, J. (2001). America's liberalization in attitudes toward homosexuality, 1973 to 1998. American Sociological Review, 66 762-782.
Lowry, B. (1997, March 21). Gay ad meets with resistance from ABC. Los Angeles Times, p. D4.
McAllister, M. (1996). The commercialization of American culture: New advertising, control, and democracy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Mead, M. (1967). The classic study of the sexes: Male and female. New York: Quill/William Morrow.
Messner, M. (1995). Boyhood, organized sports, and the construction of masculinities. In M. Kimmel & M. Messner (Eds.), Men's lives (3rd ed., pp. 102-114). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Mosse, G. (1996). The image of man: The creation of modern masculinity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nader, R. (1965). Unsafe at any speed: The designed-in dangers of the American automobile. New York: Grossman.
North American Philips Consumer Electronics to be first consumer electronics marketer to advertise in gay/lesbian magazine 'Out.' (1993, July 6). New York Times, p. D8.
Pleck, J. (1995). Men's power with women, other men, and society: A men's movement analysis. In M. Kimmel & M. Messner (Eds.), Men's lives (3rd ed., pp. 5-12). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Reilly, P. (1998, July 16). Gay and conservative groups duel in big ads in leading newspapers. Wall Street Journal, p. B1.
Rich, F. (1994, April 3). Gay shopping spree. New York Times, p. E11.
Rochon, T. (1998). Culture moves: Ideas, activism, and changing values. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Rosin, H. (1999, May 12). Falwell lights into Budweiser: Ad in gay magazine sparks call-in campaign. Washington Post, p. E3.
Rothman, C. (1999, May 18). Big companies are openly courting gay consumers. Los Angeles Times, pp. C1, C4, C18.
Rutenberg, J., & Elliott, S. (2000, May 19). Advertisers shun talk show as gay protest gains power. New York Times, p. A22.
Sender, K. (1999). Selling sexual subjectivities: Audiences respond the gay window advertising. Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 16 172-196.
Span, P. (1994, May 19). ISO the gay consumer: Advertisers are coming out in the open. Washington Post, p. D1.
Spending increases in gay magazines. (2000, June 12). New York Times, p. C16.
Standard Rate & Data Service. (1998). Consumer magazine advertising source: The complete source for consumer magazine information. Des Plaines, IL: Author.
Swisher, K. (1993, April 25). Targeting the gay market: Companies spending more of their ad dollars to attract affluent group. Washington Post, p. H1.
2 companies aim at the gay market. (1995, April 13). New York Times, p. C19.
Vaid, U. (1995). Virtual equality: The mainstreaming of gay and lesbian liberation. New York: Anchor Books.
West, C., & Zimmerman, D. (1991). Doing gender. In J. Lorber & S. Farrell (Eds.), The social construction of gender (pp. 13-35). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Whipple, T., & Courtney, A. (1985). Female role portrayals in advertising and communication effectiveness: A review. Journal of Advertising, 14 4-8, 17-19.
Williamson, J. (1978). Decoding advertisements: Ideology and meaning in advertising. Boston: Marion Boyars.
Wolf, N. (1991). The beauty myth: How images of beauty are used against women. New York: Anchor Books.
Yang, J., & Marcus, R. (1996, August 10). Gay rights ads question ‘defense of marriage’ bill. Washington Post, p. A9.
About this article
Cite this article
Rohlinger, D.A. Eroticizing Men: Cultural Influences on Advertising and Male Objectification. Sex Roles 46, 61–74 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1016575909173
- gender roles