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Gender by Design: Performativity and Consumer Packaging, Design and Culture

Journal article
Authors Magdalena Petersson McIntyre
Published in Design and Culture
Volume 10
Issue 3
Pages 337-358
ISSN 1754-7075
Publication year 2018
Published at Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Centre for Consumer Science
Pages 337-358
Language en
Links https://doi.org/10.1080/17547075.20...
Keywords packaging, gendered consumption, gendered design, masculinity, sexuality, performativity
Subject categories Ethnology

Abstract

Mass-produced consumer packages are everyday objects that almost go unnoticed. However, by claiming things such as the essence of femininity or masculinity, they affect us and are co-creators of our reality. Based on visual ethnography, this article traces the representation of gender on mass-produced packaging during a time when male privilege is being challenged and female visual objectification is being questioned. The chosen products all have an intimate relationship with body care and the body’s functions. On some of the packaging, the biological differences between women and men are presented as scientific facts. On other examples, such as perfume packaging, gender is represented as decoupled from the body and part of an enjoyable choice of identity, as multiple, fragmented, and fluid. Such representations conceal power differences by making gender into a matter of consumer choice, while also illustrating the constantly changing nature of gender. Gender and package design are entangled processes that affect and change with each other.

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