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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton August 16, 2019

Metaphors and Dehumanization Ideology

A critical analysis of the multimodal representation of women in advertising

Chaoyuan Li
From the journal Chinese Semiotic Studies


Rich literature on the representation of women in advertising has repeatedly concluded a message in keeping with a GDP-promoting agenda: with economic development and modernization, women’s status has been elevated and they appear in professional and other settings beyond domesticity. Amid this optimism, the present study cautions that women’s elevated status and transformed roles should not give way to the exuberance on display in many sectors. Motivated by the unusual persistence of women’s decorative role against the background of pro-egalitarian industrialization and modernity, this study, drawing on advertising discourse in Cosmopolitan, the world’s leading women’s magazine, aims to investigate the gender ideology that dehumanizes women by exploring the various dehumanizing metaphors and the visual and linguistic codes deployed to construct the metaphors. In identifying and analyzing two major dehumanizing metaphors – WOMEN ARE OBJECTS and WOMEN ARE ANIMALS – this study outlines a critical metaphorical landscape that goes beyond the warfare metaphor which is popular in various fields (e.g. women, health care, and economy), and highlights HUMAN BEINGS ARE THINGS metaphors as a major instrument in constructing dehumanizing discourse and ideology.


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Published Online: 2019-08-16
Published in Print: 2019-08-27

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