Jim Bean Ad: A skewed portrayal of sex appeal and sexuality

This is an ad for Jim Bean Bourbon. I argue that it targets straight men. The first thing that I noticed was the woman that they had speaking. She is white and thin, therefore, what I and most would call conventionally attractive. Like Kilbourne mentioned in her presentation “Killing Us Softly 4” this image is one that is used over and over again, and perpetuated as the highest standard of beauty. The woman is wearing something revealing, her cleavage obvious. The commercial is clearly selling sex.

The content of the advertisement surprised me, though. She says she prefers women to men. She doesn’t call herself a lesbian (the word itself would be a deterrent to straight men), but she toys with the concept of having always been “fascinated” by women . She introduces us to her “girlfriend” (who is also thin and white). The two sit close to each other, touching. However, both women maintain eye contact with the camera, instead of looking at each other, as if they are trying to entice any onlookers. This portrayal of women only being sexually attracted to each other in order to turn on a male is commonplace and often used to sell products.


Citations: Jean Kilbourne, “Killing Us Softly 4” (2010)


I'm a writer, a foodie, and a cheap fashionista. I'm a wanderer: collector of moments, dreams, doubts and desires. I write for myself. I process here. Mostly talk about food, fashion, fitness and the ever inescapable Capital F-eelings.
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1 Response to Jim Bean Ad: A skewed portrayal of sex appeal and sexuality

  1. rachelrabbit16 says:

    Wow, like you I also found the content of this ad to be surprising. In Wan Hsiu’s article that we read she describes a very similar ad for liquor, with two lesbian women flirting and sitting close to one another at a bar. She also describes something really similar to what you wrote about, the avoidance of overt homosexuality (here not saying the “L-word”) and playing up the ostensibly lesbian woman’s femininity. In order for the line “The Tragedy” to work, the two women have to be exactly what every straight man should want– white, beautiful, thin and very feminine. It wouldn’t be a tragedy for a straight man looking for a conventionally attractive woman to see two less feminine or less attractive lesbians together. They might be seen as people to ridicule.
    I also thought it was interesting that unlike other liquor advertisements, that are about being social and celebrating, this one seems to imply drinking because one is upset because of all the beautiful women who don’t like men. I think this ad is also meant to reassure men’s egos a bit, because it’s not their fault that these beautiful women don’t like them, it’s because the women don’t like men at all. And at least they can still watch.

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