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What Difference?

Shawn Nelsen



Ex. 1 Men's Front Page                                                                                      Ex. 2   Women's Front Page


Men are from one planet and women from another, complete opposites, nothing in common what so ever; at least that is what the average American is lead to believe by at least half the media out there today.  There are many shows on Television like "The other Half", "Dr. Phil" and "Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus" which are only on the air to point out the vast difference between guys and gals.  With all these shows, it is a wonder that most people are not gay.  Despite this apparent huge difference between the sexes, living in a heterosexual relationship is still the most popular way for most people to live. The simple truth is that men and women are not very different.  The evidence lies within the pages of the magazines that men and women like to read.  These pages look almost the same.  From the way that the cover of the magazine is set up to the

advertisements inside, men's and women's magazines prove to have many parallels that help prove that men and women are not that different after all. 

When comparing the cover of a man's magazine to the cover of a woman's magazine it is not always easy to tell the difference between the two of them with a quick glance. For instance, in Example 1 and Example 2 both covers have a beautiful woman on the front, both of the backgrounds are white, and both of them have the titles in big red writing. Aside from just the obvious points, there are many subtle similarities that prove these covers to be alike.  For instance, with both of the cover the focal points are the women's breasts.  This brings more focus to the women and if one looks closely s/he might notice that they to have much in common.  Both of the women are blond, have their hips curving to the left, and have their arms up in a surrender position as if they were offering them selves to the reader.  Both of the magazine covers were set up to

catch the reader's eye (hence the beautiful women and so on), which goes to show that the eyes of men and women are caught by some of the very same things.  Both examples 1 & 2 mention sex as well.  This could easily be attributed to the fact that, for the most part, both men and women have sexual desires and will, most likely, notice something that brings up sex. 

           Not only can the covers of the magazines be similar, but the advertisements inside the magazine can be similar as well.  One can easily see the similarities in Example 3 and Example 4.  These two ads are both from the same company and look to be from the same advertising campaign as well.  Also, Both of the ads take place in a social setting that include both men and women. In addition, everybody seems to be smiling and having


Ex. 3 Men's Cigarette ad                                                                                    Ex. 4 Women's Cigarette ad


fun. Perhaps both ads are suggesting that smoking is fun for everyone.  There are also some more subtle similarities as well.  One might notice that in both of the ads there is only one person holding a cigarette and that that one person is the center of attention for the other people in the ads.  In Example 4 the woman has the cigarette and is being hit on buy the guy. In Example 3 the woman with the shopping bags has a cigarette and is being chased by the two men behind her.  These two ads show that both men and women are conscious of their social environment and their social status among their peers.  These ads also show that both men and women are subject to the desire to be popular, for both ads have the underlying theme of "smoke Newport Cigarettes and you'll be cool".  If that message did not strike to the hearts of men and women alike, then it would not be found within the pages of today's magazines.  



Ex. 5 Men's Nike ad                                                                                          Ex. 6 Women's Nike ad


Along with Newport Cigarettes (examples 3& 4), In examples 5 & 6 one can see that Nike has also taken the approach of pitching the same campaign to both men and women.  When comparing Examples 5 & 6 it is easy to see the similarities.  For instance, both take place during either sunset or sunrise, both runners are on the beach, and both runners appear as thought they are either about to start or finish a run.  In addition, both of the ads are found on the back of the magazines from which they were obtained.  These ads seem to suggest, to men and women alike, that after one is done reading a magazine s/he should get up, buy Nike, and get some exercise.  After all, both the people in the ads look happy and relaxed, therefore any one who exercises while wearing Nike should be happy and relaxed as well; right?  These two ads are both taking advantage of the fact that both men and women need exercise and that reminding them will probably make them feel self-conscious enough to go get some.


Ex. 7 Men's Underwear ad                                                                                 Ex. 8  Women's Underwear ad


Just as Newport cigarettes and Nike might use the same approach in advertising for both men and women, when viewing examples 7 & 8 it becomes apparent that sometimes two different companies selling the same product might take the same approach as well. In examples 7 and 8, both of the companies are selling underwear.  The obvious similarities are, of course, that both of the models have perfect bodies, are showing off their underwear, and are alone in the photo.  Looking more closely though, one might notice that the subtle similarities are striking.  For one thing, both of the models are poised in a "ready to move pose" as though the companies are trying to suggest that their underwear leads to action. Another correlative is that both of the models are wearing cape like robes that can leave the ad viewer with a hint of fairytale nostalgia. The woman has hints of "little red riding hood" and the man has hints of a prince in white.  Along with the visual parallels, both of the ads also have a similar feeling to them. There is a feeling of seriousness and mystery that seems to pervade throughout both of the advertisements.  It seems as though the advertisers are trying to suggest that there is something more to their particular brand of underwear than meets the eye.  Perhaps both men and women can relate to this idea because there is something more than meets the eye to men and women as well. Men and women alike could want what's not seen to be just as interesting, if not more interesting, as what is seen when others look at them.  The advertisers could be saying, "we know that you want to be mysterious, we can help" in hopes that men and women will somehow believe that underwear can lead to mystery.

            Although it is sometimes a mystery how men and women can live together on one world, when one does a little investigating to try to find what men and women have in common s/he will find that men and women are not that different after all.  Men and women both want friends, feel self-conscious, need exercise, and have more to them than one can see. Perhaps one need not try to find the similarities between men and women, but instead should be forced to prove there is differences.