Laura Põld
University of Tartu, Department of Arts


Throughout history women have been portrayed as domestic providers and sex objects in art and advertisements.

This paper handles the problem of sexist depiction of women in advertisements and how it has changed after the feminist movement starting from the 1970s.

When in 1970s women art historians started criticising male-centrism inart, the question arised: why are women always portrayed through the eyes of men and therefore as sex objects. In this paper I give a brief overlook of the viewpoints of Linda Nochlin, Lise Vogel and Luce Irigaray on this matter.

Linda Nochlin in her essay "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" refers to the evidental conventional comprehension about the term "erotic" that we understand as "erotic from the viewpoint of male". Also the images of female with a provocative nature giving sexual pleasure are created by men and for the delectation of men. These images are still extensively exploited in advertisements today.

Contemporary advertising appropriates criticism and counter ideologies, being aware of the objections of the feminist movement to traditional portrayal of women in ads. I also analyze some examples in which criticism is incorporated into an ad; some agencies even dare to criticize themselves.

Keywords: women in advertisements, female body, feminism, semiotics of advertising, Linda Nochlin, Lise Vogel, Luce Irigaray