Business has a strange relationship to academic theory. Its processes can be similarly knotty, its language interminably complex. The marketing division, in particular, has a tendency to reach for an intuitive digging experience product, when it means a spade. But when it comes to thinking about how to depict and represent gender, progressive theory seems to have made its way into marketing with clarity and force.

In 1975, the academic Laura Mulvey published what would go on to be a fundamental text in feminist visual theory: Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. In the essay, Mulvey fleshes out the idea of the male gaze, an idea that posits that the asymmetry in social and political power between men and women is a controlling social force in cinema, skewed toward male pleasure.

This idea is not isolated to cinema. Looking back, social norms like the corset in the West or Lotus shoes in China were expectations created for a male gaze. In advertising, the construct continues, even in categories for women. Stereotypes and the gaze to which they conform run riot.