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Attitudes Towards Gender Portrayal in Advertising: An Australian Perspective

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This study examines community attitudes of Australians towards gender portrayal in advertising. Despite some well-publicised cases involving sexually provocative billboards, we find that gender portrayal in advertising is not of major concern to many Australians. We also examined the relationship between attitudes to gender portrayal and Arnott's (1972) Female Autonomy Inventory, a measure of feminist consciousness. Ford and LaTour (1996) tested a model of attitudes toward gender portrayal in advertising that found an unambiguous relationship between attitudes to female autonomy and the perceived offensiveness of the portrayal of women in advertisements. Our study, in contrast, suggests that the relationship is more complex. While one group of high female autonomy respondents (that we labeled "Feminist Pessimists") rated the offensiveness of the portrayal of women in advertising very highly, another high female autonomy group (labeled "Feminist Optimists") did not. Hence regulatory bodies may treat complaints on stereotyping in advertisements from these groups in different ways and advertisers may modify their messages for maximum effect. Differences in the findings between this study and Ford and LaTour's are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 February 2005

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