Gender’s Purpose: Marketing as Political Texts

If you’re struggling for something fun on a day that you’ve set aside to do critiques of power, try these two bits of jaw-dropping oogle-fests.

Eastern Airlines

Artifacts like these thrown into a pool of students are as brilliantly accessible as they are fascinating. The first is a poster from Eastern Airlines. This is an advertisement that was accompanied by a whole series of commercials in which young beauties paraded across the screen declaring their flight routes and finishing with the words “Fly me.”

Have your students read the text on the poster. The artifact in play clearly posits a role for women as object and tacitly suggests who the passengers on the flight should be. The language is open and reasonably clear that students should be able to unpack the assumptions and roles that are in the piece. Now that we have them sufficiently irked…


The second artifact is clearly a war propaganda piece. This is Howard Chandler Christy’s work from WWI. For students in their first years of thinking critically, this appears as a poster that puts women in the weak position. But the text here is more complex. Just as in the first artifact, the roles and audience can be unpacked reasonably easily…. but there is now a new layer of manipulation. Gender isn’t simply encouraging male behavior…. it is, in fact, harmful to both genders by emasculation.

Artifacts like this force the students to recognize gender, and social construction as powerful and real components to theories of politics. And they’re just plain fun.


A Bad Romance ….Gaga over Edutainment

Soomo Publishing’s take on suffrage….it’s such a Bad Romance

A year ago in Albuquerque as I was discussing the games and simulations we play in class at the annual TLC and one of my colleagues winced a little.

So I had to ask about the source of the boggle. In short her frustration was about what she called “edutainment.”  The idea that we may well be using engaging games and YouTube videos as a way to capture the attention and adoration of our students but not much more.

This got me thinking. Certainly I wouldn’t want to be accused of edutaining my students. I want the games and activities we play to provide a platform for their own intellectual development.  Alas I have been guilty, before, of showing the odd documentary as a way to pass time…. but it also got me thinking about intrinsic and extrinsic learners in our classes. (This was the impetus, incidentally, for my work with Amanda Rosen on student motivation and games)

This week, one of my favorite education companies in the world released a music video. (SOOMO Publishing)

It is a cover of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. But it has a particularly different kind of educational spin on it. Namely women’s suffrage….

Therefore in an effort to repent my edutainmentism…..and on this international day of the Woman I would like to offer this up as a distinctly marvelous example of an asset that is more than simply edutainment. The video, in short, produces so many questions that it almost immediately creates an intrinsic learner of someone who is just watching it for entertainment value.

Bravo SOOMO….