A new study has revealed that women aren’t that bothered by seeing sexualised images of women in advertising.
The South Korean study – with the rather long title of Feminism and advertising: Responses to sexual ads featuring women: How the differential influence of Feminist perspectives can inform targeting strategies – revealed that women who held liberal or a conservative views of feminism tended to react similarly to the imagery.
The results were published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) and were based on the reactions of women from liberal feminists, who view equality through the lens of a woman’s individual choices and actions; radical feminists, who seek a radical transformation of patriarchal society; and conservatives, who support traditional gender roles.
The rather academic study noted: “Despite the conventional wisdom, consumers with positive attitudes toward third-wave (or liberal contemporary) feminism positively evaluated sexual images of women in advertisements.”
Results for the study were based on the online suvery responses from 347 women with a median age of 42.
Each respondent viewed two of six “sexual advertising stimuli” for a fashion brand from Tom Ford, which was selected in part as it is known to use risqué or “sexually explicit advertising”.
Participants then rated their “ethical judgement and advertising attitudes towards the stimulus”, the ad’s perceived sexual explicitness, and their brand interest, each of which was measured on a seven-point scale.
Interestingly, both the conservative participants – those who support traditional gender roles – and those with more radical feminists views both regarded the imagery as positive.
The study noted: “It can be interpreted that the positive influence is not caused by consumers’ motivation of sexual liberation, but occurs because the sexual objectification fits within consumers’ conservative notion of treating women as subordinates and available for objectification in advertising.”
It determined that women that held stronger views towards feminism weren’t opposed to sexier ads, but added “that a radical feminist belief system was only a reliable predictor of ethical judgement, whereas that relationship did not reliably hold for the other criteria”.
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