Modernity to Post-Modernity
The shift in the use and popularity of fragrance as being a woman’s product to becoming a product more universally used, is tied to a change in society on a whole, and to the attitudes and behaviours that accompanied it. A societal shift towards consumption occurred when society moved from modernity to post-modernity: During the era of modernity, order was sought through the separation of life into binaries, for example masculine and feminine and public and private (Firat, 1994). These opposing categories were attached with superior and inferior status levels, which helped provide grounds for the identification of hierarchies (Firat, 1994). During times of modernity, the aim was ultimately to present a society that was transparent, structured and easily understood by its members (Goulding, 2003). During modernity, the adoption of an ethic of a consumption by members of society was encouraged, where men were producers of goods and women were consumers (Firat, 1994). In the era of modern marketing, advertisers and marketers held a similar view of the ideal consumer: one which is female, emotional, irrational and impulsive (Goulding, 2003). However, in the era of the post-modern, production has lost the privileged position it once held in culture and society as the prominent form of identity creation (Firat, 1994). In the post-modern era, judgement of individuals has shifted from having a sole focus on occupation or one’s role in production, and towards what is consumed and how this consumption is presented to others (Firat, 1994). This era is often referred to as being that of the consumer society, due the surge in consumerism.
There are many characteristics of post-modern society, the most prominent of which is the dominant presence of the media. The other characteristics include hyperreality, fragmentation, reversals of production and consumption, juxtapositions and loss of commitment (Firat and Venkatesh, 1992; Firat, Dholakia and Venkatesh, 1995). The role of fragmentation in society is especially significant from a marketing communications standpoint, as it reflects the environment in which marketing communications currently operates. In post-modern society, marketing communications are becoming increasingly fragmented as advertising spots are becoming shorter, and the consumer is being exposed to multiple images from multiple brands on a daily basis. The images represent all forms of products and services as well as the numerous lifestyles, attitudes and personas which go with them. The increasingly fragmented nature of marketing communications can be said to be mirrored in the fragmented construction of one’s individual identity. Sturrock and Pioch (1998) state that the various meanings that are attached to the consumption of products are used to reflect various identities of the individual who wishes to “portray and experience momentary or situational images felt to be appropriate or desirable at a particular time. The presentation of multiple, varied images to the consumer allows them to become somewhat liberated from the conformity associated with modernity, where they must conform to a single image of self (Firat, Dholakia and Venkatesh, 1995). It can therefore be said that marketing, and consumer society more generally, aides the consumer in their construction of self, by providing multiple images which they can use to construct a unique identity (Kacen, 2000). Seabrook (1999) comments on this role played by marketers stating “brands are how we figure out who we are” ( cited in Kacen, 2000: 349). In post-modern marketing communications, the image is displayed first and the product is often secondary (Firat, Dholakia and Venkatesh, 1995). It is argued by Sturrock and Pioch (1998) that as a result of this, production has lost the privileged place it held in modernity, as well as its role in identity construction for men. In the place of production consumption practices have become the means though which individuals now define their self-image, and the image of themselves they want to present to others (Featherstone, 1993).
Gender and Consumer Society
While the terms ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ are often used interchangeably, the carry very different meanings. ‘Sex’ refers to the biological aspects of being female or male, while ‘gender’ refers to the behavioural, social and psychological traits associated with men an women (Chrisler, 2000). We are born with the biological sex we are given, however some theorists argue that gender is something that is learned (Spence and Helmreich, 1978). Discussing womanhood and femininity, Simone de Beavoir (get reference)* states that “one is not born but rather becomes a woman” referring to the learned characteristics of gender. * Bring in Butler here?* Renzetti also argues that rather than being a biological given, it is something which is created socially. In modernity, consumption and production were closely tied to societal attitudes towards gender. In modernity, females were considered the consumers and their activites were based around the home, while men were the producers and tied to the workplace (Costa 1994). While these gender categories and stereotypes remain strong 5in post-modern society, culture has become more tolerant and accepting of the sexes participating in roles and activities which are non-traditional for their gender category (Firat, 1994). This has resulted in the concept of gender identity itself undergoing a great transformation, becoming a more fluid quality that changes and shifts in different contexts (Kacen, 2000).
Marketing communications and advertising have had a profound impact on the shifts and changes in male gender identity (Patterson and Elliot, 2002). Patterson and Elliot argue that advertising activity was one of the driving forces in the creation of the ‘new man’. The construction of male identities shifted greatly in the 80’s and 90’s, led by marketing communications which impacted on this new male identity (Patterson and Elliot, 2002).
Representation of men in Advertising
There are a number of aspirational traits which are included in the way in which men are currently portrayed in advertising generally. This new male aspirational model is argued by Astios et al (1998) as being characterised by the following recurring elements:
• Retains his masculinity (at all times)
• Able to express sincerity and sensitivity
• Witty and relaxed
• Able to return to his most inner consciousness
• Has his own personality and not an artificial imposed one
• Displays simplicity of character
Astios et al. carried out research to ascertain what men perceived as positive and negative images of the new male, positive images included:
• The friend
• The partner
• The hardworking professional
• The sensitive man
• The father
Negative elements included:
• Man as object
• The outdated man
• The Gay/ androgynous man
• The inadequate man
Journalist John Camm (2005) also outlined negative portrayals of men which are commonly seen in advertising which included elements such as men portrayed as being obsessed with sex, who are inherently lazy or modern men who are cat owners. From an Irish perspective, John Waters an Irish Journalist had argued that Irish men, especially those who are middle-to-late aged, are frequently characterised as being stupid, ignorant are generally incompetent in contemporary media. Preston argues that there are typically two extremes under which men in advertising fall into: ‘Sexual hunk’ or ‘Rocket Scientist’ (Preston, 2000).
The New Man
For the majority of the twentieth century women were considered by society to be inferior to men and as such were expected to act as their subordinate in all aspects of their lives (Campaign, 2005). As men had take authority of the family, the workplace and the extent to which each man asserted his authority over those ‘beneath’ him was dependent on the character of the man, his upbringing and his culture (Campaign, 2005). The media characterised the new man of modernity through figures such as Humphrey Bogart or John Wayne, or in advertising the iconic ‘The Marlboro Man’. These figures became synonymous with men of modernity and the traditional man of the mid-to-late twentieth century.
This new view of man, who is traditional and places importance of traditional values which saw the man working the land while the woman stayed in the home and looked after the children. Campaign argues that ‘the history of males as aggressors, hunters and protectors developed into the time honoured idea of man: physically imposing, if inarticulate, he could fix anything around the house and was loved and feared by his wife and children’ (Campaign, 2005: 24-25). Following the second world war the world changed and shifted in a different direction, as during the war while men were away fighting, women took up jobs in factories and businesses. This led to the first wave of the feminist movement, the feminist liberation movement, which irrevocably changed the relationship between men and women; women would no longer settle for being subordinate and submissive to their husbands, fathers, brothers. The roles associated with the sexes also changed during this time and became more fluid and interchangeable: a woman’s place was no longer in the home and the mans was no longer necessarily at work. This change became stronger and more acceptable over-tie and as the women’s liberation progressed, but it is still on-going (Campaign, 2005).
Patterson and Elliot (2002:234) describe the ‘new man as a ‘sensitive soul in touch with his feminine emotional side’. The 1980’s saw the birth of the new man and the shift in masculinity that he represented. His role in society became extended and more diverse, influenced by the societal change brought about by the women’s liberation. Patterson and Elliot (2002:234) discuss this new masculinity stating that it was a less traditional masculinity which allowed men the freedom to become involved in the worlds of parenthood and housekeeping which were previously understood to be women’s roles. Despite this, they state that men managed to retain the power of their masculinity while also applying greater attention to their well-being and appearance. This new man represents a move away from traditional forms of masculinity and the beginning of a shift towards being a commodity seeker (Collier, 1992 and Barthel, 1992). Barthel (1992:147) goes on to further describe his a ‘gift to advertisers’. Within the context of men’s fashion and style magazines from the 1980’s onwards, Collier (1992) describes such magazines as being a primary source of reference for the new man. The importance of media sources for information on lifestyle and culture changes for men is significant, as a recent survey stated that over half of European and American men use media as their sources of trends and information on men’s health (Datamonitor, 2004). On this, Patterson and Elliot (2002:236) argues that ‘at a fundamental level, there has been a growing feminization of hegemonic masculinity, designed to encourage greater male participation in consumption activities and with the added benefit of protecting patriarchy’.
As the 1990’s approached, more and more men became interested in men’s lifestyle and fashion magazines (Patterson and Elliot, 2002). However, despite this increasing interest in magazines, the post-modern man is not accurately represented in the images of men in such magazines (Kolbe and Albanese, 1996). Kimmel traces this rise in interest in the male body depicted in these advertisements to three fundamental social trends:
• The decreasing importance of the productive role to masculine identities and its substitution by body and related consumption.
• The increasing participation in the public sphere by women leading to a so-called ‘muscular backlash’ typically seen in macho films such as those starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
• The decreasing stigmatization of gay men and the emergence of the stereotype gay macho bod-builder (Kimmel, 1987).
Advertisers now had the ability to target a market which was largely untapped due to these new changes, as up until that point it was not common practice to encourage the young male market into habits of consumption and shopping, as these were considered to be a part of ‘the feminised sphere of life and not compatible with masculinity’ (Patterson and Elliot, 2002: 235).
The Male Gaze
The relationship between the viewer of a model featuring in an advert and the model itself is referred to as the ‘masculine-masculine look’ by Nixon (1997) but is more commonly known as the ‘male gaze’ (Bishop, 2000). The more a viewer views an image, he becomes more invested in it and becomes complicit in the way the way is being represented or represents himself. Discussing the new ‘look’ of models which are used in modern advertising he believes that the look sends out contradictory images of both ‘boyish softness’ and more conventional rugged masculinity (Nixon, 1997). An example of this in practice can be seen in male models who have soft, full lips which are a staple of feminine beauty, and a tough, rugged jawline, which is resonant of masculine strength. Barthel (1992) and Rutherford (1988) support this argument as they have described representations of masculinity which appears in advertising as feminised and objectified, but also that devices are also used to re-establish an assertive masculinity. Bishop (2000) discusses the ethics which are raised by advertisers intentionally using gaze to draw the viewer into the ad in the hopes of leaving an impact which will create sales. The male gaze can take many forms, from voyeur to critical, and it is important to note that men will interpret male images individually and as Patterson and Elliot (2002:239) state, ‘such a gaze represents just one of a variety of subject positions which men can adopt’.
The consequences of images such as these has been heavily debated by critics. Typically, the effects of idealised persons have been focused on the women, and such effects would suggests that the impact is likely to be negative (Patterson and Elliot, 2002). It is argued that idealised images of perfection may lead to social comparison, feelings of insecurity and damaged self confidence among audiences (Patterson and Elliot, 2002). However, Patterson and Elliot argue that the effects may not all necessarily be negative, and state that these representations are likely to have various effects depending on the demographic of individual, e.g. a Hispanic, middle-income male and a white, low-income woman are likely to view images and representations in very different ways. They also argue that there is evidence of active consumption with regard to men and advertising, that they in fact do not feel the need to emulate these idealised body images. They articulate this belief, stating ‘the polysemic nature of advertising texts…dictates that male spectators may interpret the messages conveyed by that advertising in a whole host of ways’ (Patterson and Elliot, 2002:239).
( End of the ‘New Man’
From its inception, there was a power struggle between the ideal posed by the new man gracing magazines, and the average Joe. British ‘Lad’ culture exploded in popularity during the 1990’s and becoming just one in a number of competing male identities which struggled for dominance at that time |(Campaign, 2002). Lad culture which was characterised by the exploits of bad boy British pop bands like Oasis, and encouraged by a new generation of ‘lads mags’ that focused primarily of bad behaviour, beer and women’s breasts, for example Nuts and Zoo (Campaign, 2002). For some, lad culture was demonised at a considered to be a result of binge drinking and a backlash against feminism. If the new man was typified as ‘a sensitive soul who is in touch with his sensitive and emotional side’ (Patterson and Elliot, 2002: 234) then this 90’s lad was characterised as a lager drinking, woman chasing, anti-intellectual)
Hyper-masculinity refers to the gender-based ideology of what it means to be a man, when carried out in an exaggerated way, and is comprised of four inter-related beliefs (Zaitchik and Mosher 1993). The first is a calloused attitude towards sex and women, and the belief that sexual intercourse with women is a source of male power and dominance over women. Second, the idea of violence as a portrayal of manliness is the belief that violent aggression is an acceptable expression of masculine power and dominance, over other men and women. Third, danger as being exciting is the belief that survival in dangerous situations is manly and displays dominance and power over the environment. Lastly, toughness as an emotional self-control is defined as the belief that anger is the only acceptable male emotion, and the expression of other emotions, particularly those associated with feminity, is a sign of weakness. For hyper-masculine men it is important to conceal any emotion which will make him seem inferior, such as fear, sadness or shame (Mosher and Sirkin 1984; Zaitchik and Mosher 1993).
Masculine Imagery (&Operationalising HM & Social Learning Theory)
The Hyper-Masculinity Inventory (HMI, Mosher & Sirkin 1984) was created to operationalise the concept of hyper-masculinity (Zaitchik & Mosher 1993). The HMI includes three sub-scales which measure the inter-related beliefs previously mentioned, using a forced choice design. An overall HMI score is generated by adding all individual item scores for each question answered. Mosher and Sirkin (1984) found that the inter-correlations of the subscales were approximately .60, indicating that a strong relationship exists among them. If hyper-masculinity is highly prevalent in advertisements aimed at men, it may encourage men to adopt hyper-masculine behaviours that contribute to associated problems for men, women and society (Kats 1995; Zaitchik and Mosher 1993).
Role of the media
There are two theories which are most frequently cited when explain how hyper-masculine media, including advertising, influence men’s beliefs and attitudes. Cultivation theory (Gerbner, 1966) holds that mass media not only express social and cultural patterns but cultivate them as well by mirroring back to consumer’s images of reality. These images reflect the interests of the creators of the media (i.e to sell products and services) and are typically wholly inaccurate. Despite the inaccuracy, consumer beliefs and attitudes are subtly shaped by whatever images mass media repeatedly present to them. Research has demonstrated that greater exposure to a particular mass media image leads to greater acceptance of it by consumers. Kervin (1990) and Kilbourne (1999) state that advertisements do not necessarily represent men as they truly are, but instead use socially desirable versions of masculinity to infuse those characteristics into the product being sold.
The second prominent explanation for the influence of hyper-masculine advertising is Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977) which has been expanded to include social structural (Akers, 1998) and cognitive (Bandura, 1986) elements. Social Learning Theory argues that people learn culturally appropriate behaviour, including that related to gender-roles, via the observation of others, modelling and differential reinforcement. The mass media are major sources of modelling and reinforcement, especially for young people, who consumer media targets greatly. Hyper-masculine mass media maybe most influential for males who are already receptive to hyper-masculine norms, values and worldview (Zaitchik and Mosher, 1993).
Hyper- Masculine Theory
In ‘Gender Trouble’ (1990) Judith Butler, an American philosopher and feminist theorist, promotes the theory of ‘Gender Performativity’, the central concept of which is that gender is constructed through one’s own repetitive performance of gender, based on what is seen and learnt. Images of men in adverts typically show them in positions of physical power and dominance, emphasised by the contrast between the position if women in adverts of a similar nature, e.g. Tom Ford’s ad’s for perfume which depict women as objects and men and dominant aggressive figures. As with Simone de Beauvoir’s claim that “one is not born but rather becomes a woman”, Butler also understands gender as something that is not predetermined but rather something that is learned. Butler states that gender is not a stable identity of a ‘locus agency from which various acts proceed; rather it is an identity tenuously constituted in time- an identity instituted through a stylized repetition of acts. Butler states that these acts are internally discontinuous, so that the appearance of substance is precisely that, a constructed identity, a performative accomplishment which the mundane social audience, including the ‘actors’ themselves, come to believe and perform in the ‘mode of belief.’ To say that gender is performed is arguing that gender is real ‘only to the extent of which it is performed.
Within current perspectives on masculinity, researchers have abandoned the view of a single standard of manhood (typically White, heterosexual and middle-class) and now posit the existence of multiple forms of masculinity. Drawing on social constructionism, this perspective argues that masculinity is neither immutable nor monolithic; rather, it exists in diverse forms that change as a function of cultural and historical factors (Connell 2005, Smiler 2004, Wade 1998). Smiler suggests that this idea of masculinities is now conceptualised in two ways, interpersonal and intrapersonal. The first concerns variations in masculinity that are identified among groups of men arranged on the basis of categories such as age (e.g., Cournoyer and Mahalik 1995) race (e.g., Hammond and Mattis 2005), sexual orientation (e.g., Connell 1995), and socioeconomic status (e.g., Iacuone 2005). The hierarchical arrangement of a plurality of alternative masculinities forms the basis of Connell’s theory of hegemonic masculinity (Carrigan et al. 1985; Connell 1995; Connell and Messerschmidt 2005), which has been the guiding framework for research on men and masculinities for over two decades. Within this framework masculinities are understood as configurations of different practices
The Study of Perceptions
As this dissertation will be examining the perceptions of Irish males aged 18-34, it is essential that the meaning of perception is clearly outlined and understood. Perception would not be possible were it not for at least some of our basic five senses, as Solomon (1999) has stated that perception is the process by which our sensations are selected, organised and interpreted. Though we all learn through our senses, the manner in which we receive, organise and ultimately interpret the sensory information varies from person to person. Coren et. al (1994) state that the study of perception is primarily conerned