The Ambiguities of an Image

This image is intriguing as it could have several meanings depending on who is decoding its message (semiotics). Semiotics  suggests that everyone has different codes, meaning ways of decoding and encoding messages they receive or send. Whilst one person may state this image is reflecting on sexism in society others could think it’s about cruelty towards animals. Thus semiotics highlights how an individual’s ‘framework’ (society/culture) creates different interpretations.

woman in cage
Gender Roles in Advertising

In signs there are two components that need to be taken into account: the signifier (words or images) and the signified (connotations surrounding the image). In this case the signifier of the image is a man sitting over a caged woman and the words “Hold that tiger, Tiger”. These images and words can be interpreted differently depending on who is decoding the message. This emphasises why advertiser must know their audience before being able to sell a product or idea to them.

To me, the image above portrays the oppression of women that is normalised in society and the ‘bravery’ of men for taming women, evident through the capitalisation of “Tiger”, which has connotations of power and strength. Whilst both the female and male are described as ‘tigers’ the female seems to be degraded by the subtle use of the lower case suggesting that she is wild and in need of a man’s support to be tamed. This has connotations of keeping the woman at home, trapped in her domestic duties, thus the metaphor of the cage. With research into sociolinguists (such as D. Tannen) one can understand how stereotypes ingrained in society of masculinity and femininity can influence individual interpretations of an image.

different perceptions.jpg
However, above is solely my interpretation of the image meaning others could interpret it in another way considering words and images usually have more than one connotation. The word “tiger” has several connotations including beautiful, ruthless or dangerous. This means that this image’s meaning will vary depending on someone’s initial thoughts regarding the word “tiger”. For example, one could think that the
reference of “tiger” is suggesting that man, as in all of mankind, traps beautiful creatures for one’s own amusement (e.g. for the circus) or for animal testings. Thus also the use of a woman could symbolise a passive, helpless creature, like all animals, that are subject to man’s violence (animal cruelty).

Therefore these two observations of some possible meanings from this image highlight the sheer complexities the media faces when trying to convey a message through a simple picture or thread of words as individuals will interpret ‘signs’ differently.


One thought on “The Ambiguities of an Image

  1. Great post!
    I agree with your interpretation of the image as degrading the female gender, whilst the male is portrayed as superior. I think the capitalisation of the ‘T’ is the second ‘Tiger’ makes this statement evident.
    I also think the woman is being quite sexualised, in minimal clothing showing lots of bare skin while the man is fully dressed in a business outfit only baring the skin of his hands and face. Perhaps this reiterates your point of the image depicting the woman being kept to domestic duties, and implying her purpose for the man caging her to be to have his children.

    Liked by 1 person

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