Media and Gender: Do Japanese TV Commercials Deepen Gender Gap?

by Sanae Tanaka

On Japanese TV, you see a lot of advertisement commercials for alcohol, such as beers, whiskey and non-alcoholic drinks. In these TV commercials, mostly beautiful women are holding the product and smiling to the camera. This is something very “traditional” to use woman as a symbolic character in alcohol advertisement, because advertisement itself is often targeting male consumers. For example, every year, many Japanese alcohol companies have competition for “Campaign girl of the year” and recruit young girls as a “campaign girl”. In the poster and advertisement of the “campaign girl”, the girl is always wearing bikini or sexy dress and the advertisement is spreading and will be posted all over the pubs and bars in Japan every year.

It is obvious that women have been “sexual object” as a product for men in Japan. Beautiful women wearing sexy clothes and holding alcohol is very male domineering and happened to be good tool to selling these products. However the problem is that alcohol advertisements have not changed so much for long time. There are more feminism movements than before in Japan and they have become popular. However, although feminism and post-feminism ideas have become gradually known to Japanese, the way of advertising men targeted products have not changed their idea. That men dominate women socially, culturally, traditionally and sometimes as sexual objects is the reality of Japanese media.

It is obvious that in Japan, even in the media field, male dominant situations still strongly exist and the ideal women’s role is still being men’s dream. Women are still being sexual object for men and even for commercial as a product. Strong women are only accepted for women itself, and men’s idea towards women have not changed much. Because we see the media all around us everywhere, we can say that it has strong impact on our idea.

To change the present gender stereotype situation, the role of media is necessary, however, to change the gender stereotype is not only a problem with media, but the things that consist media, such as culture, history, tradition, morals and national identity, are very significant and cannot be ignored and should be considered carefully.


van Zoonen, Liesbet (1994) Feminist Media Studies. London: Sage.

Dow, B.J. and Wood, J.T. (eds.) (2006) The SAGE handbook of Gender and Communication. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications. Parts: Evolution of Gender and Communication Research, Feminism and/in Mass Media

Hausman, R, K Tyson, and S Zahidi. World economic forum. Gender Gap Report 2010. Geneva: World Economic Forum, 2010. Web.


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