Gendering affective disorders in direct-toconsumer advertisements

Jennifer Arney, Rose Weitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

This chapter explores how direct-to-consumer advertisements (DTCA) for major depression and anxiety disorders use contemporary gender scripts to sell medications and disease definitions to consumers, and in the process reflect and reinforce those scripts for both men and women. Between 1997 and 2006, antidepressant DTCA in popular magazines overwhelmingly depicted depression as a (white) female disorder, as did anti-anxiety DTCA, although not to such an extreme extent. In addition, DTCA often alerted men to the benefits they might reap if the women in their lives sought treatment, while suggesting that women had a responsibility to seek such treatment for the sake of their loved ones. Moreover, DTCA disproportionately encouraged women to monitor their emotions while encouraging men to monitor their physical sensations. Finally, DTCA suggested that medication would yield benefits for women primarily in their close relationships and for men primarily in their work lives, thus reinforcing the binary sex divisions implicit in hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity. At a broader level, DTCA studied for this article suggest to both women and men that individuals should monitor themselves and others for a wide variety of common emotions, behaviors, and physical sensations, thus individualizing social problems and encouraging the expansion of medical authority over everyday life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-180
Number of pages20
JournalResearch in the Sociology of Health Care
Volume30
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

Keywords

  • Antidepressant DTCA
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Direct-to-consumer advertisements
  • Gender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)

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