This exhibit has spoken of advertising tropes in very broad terms; that is simply a consequence of the medium, which requires generalizations of broader phenomena. The images of women that you have explored—be they drivers, passengers, or objects—are certainly not comprehensive. Though advertisers often relied on similar language and visual cues in their depictions of women, there are countless exceptions to the categorization presented here. Below, you will find a few of those exceptions.
The following advertisements resist the classifications laid out in this exhibit. Let us review those classifications. When women appear as drivers, they are usually The Chick, concerned with style rather than substance, or The Incompetent, baffled by her own car and just looking for something easy. When women appear as passengers, they fall into the traditional patriarchal roles of The Wife and The Mother, rarely depicted without a husband or children. When women appear as objects, they exist as The Seductress, alluring and desirable, or as The Body, a reduction of the woman to a mere few body parts. Most images of women in mid-century car advertisements fit into one of these tropes.
When advertisers do not rely on these stock images, intriguing, surprising, and sometimes even progressive advertisements result. Exceptions like the advertisements below may have set a precedent for modern portrayals of women and the automobile, which are more nuanced and varied. As one moves closer to the 21st century, images of women in car advertisements become gradually less restrictive.