How the Media Constructs Gender Norms.
The media frequently significantly impacts how individuals perceive the world, and it frequently molds our gender-related views and behaviors. There is more to the relationship between gender and the media than we might initially imagine. Frequently, “gendering” distinctions between boys and girls, men and women, are maintained and reinforced through various media. Sex and gender have always been seen through the lenses of sociologists as separate concepts. Gender is the socially constructed idea of what is considered masculine and feminine, whereas sex is the biological genitalia one is born with. Gender refers to the social norms and standards society still constructs and puts into effect for these two genders. The media communicates norms and values significantly because it is one of society’s primary socialization agents. This article will essentially make the case that the mass media significantly contributes to the objectification of women through the construction of gender, as evidenced by cleaning advertising, kiddie television programs, and Teen Vogue publications.
The mainstream media is adept at presenting goods that, in reality, objectify women and reinforce gender stereotypes while appearing to have many commercials specifically targeted at women. These gender roles are based on what society believes a woman should be capable of, such as caring for children, taking them to school, and handling most household work. When looking at advertisements for products like Dawn dish soap and other cleaning products, women who appear to be housewives are nearly always shown using them as though they are the only ones in charge of keeping everything neat (Tiffany, 2019). Almost typically, but not always, males are portrayed as making a mess in the cleaning advertisement. Whenever a man spills something, his wife quickly fixes the issue with her cleaning products. Another example of how cleaning is exclusively a woman’s work is when the feeble and unskilled male grins while his wife cleans. Because women are more likely to shop for groceries and other household purchases, advertisers have skewed their messaging to appeal to female consumers. Certain advertisers continue to spread false and hurtful stereotypes. As long as women are still portrayed as stay-at-home moms, these gender stereotypes hurt people and cause widespread outrage (Tiffany, 2019). This point of view is effectively arguing that it is not a man’s responsibility to clean up after himself, use the bathroom, or fold laundry when we see it in commercials. Men participate in family chores and carry out basic parenting and household responsibilities, so we know this is untrue. This is illustrated by the fact that stay-at-home fathers perform domestic duties and provide general household assistance equally to women. They are good at making sure they have completely cleaned their home in addition to helping out (Wang, 2016). However, when we see women cleaning more often than not, these adverts show a woman’s role as opposed to a man’s one. Women are also portrayed in adverts for men’s cologne in incredibly seductive and sensual poses in order to make them seem more appealing to the male gaze. Women are used as sexual objects to sell items to men. These ladies typically wear very little to no clothing, and using such images of women in advertisements has the effect of objectifying them as objects of sensual pleasure. Women’s personalities and dignity are ignored in favor of their mere bodies. Advertisers conclude that male dominance over women is the most effective technique (Wang, 2016). This type of plan divides people into distinct genders and upholds gender stereotypes. This is shown by the fact that they impart to the audience a wide range of interpretations of the concepts of masculinity and femininity. In these commercials, some men demonstrate dominance by sitting across from a lady or appearing weak and feminine, while the man appears strong and dominant. This implies that women are weak and submissive while men are powerful and dominant.
Both men and women are portrayed in stereotypical ways because males tend to view women as sexual objects and women as homemakers.
Women are often placed in subservient domestic roles in television and film, which might affect how young audiences perceive what boys and girls on television are meant to be like. This is perfectly illustrated in the Disney film “Sleeping Beauty,” where the prince is excited to see the princess but finds her in the middle of a mess that needs cleaning up (Geronimi, 2014). She was required to clean the floor, dress nicely, and look put together, which meant donning a dress and doing a full face of makeup. This encourages young women that in order to be a girl, seem attractive, and win over a man; they must put on cosmetics and wear dresses. Many Disney films, including Sleeping Beauty, communicate the message that a woman needs a man to help her achieve her goals. The princess, Aurora, is woken from an enchanted sleep in this film by the prince’s kiss, which is the only way the magic may be undone (Guo, 2019). Young boys and girls pick up these attitudes and actions by watching their favorite television shows, where they observe many standards that both boys and girls are expected to keep. Although predominantly watched daily, television is used to enforce society’s norms and taught habits from television episodes, and movies may be applied in other social contexts, such as classrooms. Children interact with their peer groups based on what they observe on television. Both girls and boys are already expected to behave in ways influenced by their parents and propagated by the media. Girls have pink bedrooms that are neat and tidy, while boys have blue bedrooms that are not maintained and remain messy. Children see these similarities in their favorite television show actors and actresses and feel joyful and connected. This encourages kids to copy and aspire to the people they watch on television who resemble them. The idea that girls should care about their beauty and view their bodies as sexual objects for men to consume is also reinforced by this movie. Aurora dressed specially for the prince rather than for herself. The assumption that women would be content once they conform to the patriarchal culture where males are dominant is typically promoted by female characters who strive for men and gossip about relationships (Geronimi, 2014). As a result, it is plausible to conclude that well-liked fairy tale films will instruct kids on what it means to be a boy or a girl and how to behave.
Teen Vogue publications, which advise women and adolescent girls on how to be physically attractive to succeed in dating, are another form of mass media that tends to build gender. Putting much attention on one’s physical attractiveness is crucial to successful dating, with advice that teaches girls and women how to win over a guy. To ensure that she gets noticed by a man, a female must look her best and dress to impress; This is precisely what these publications offer to women—tips and advice on presenting themselves in a way that appeals to men. Some of these magazines’ relationship advice is based on the ideas that “let him be the man and put in the effort to please you” or “show off a little bit of skin; men love that” (Vaes, 2011). In essence, these magazines highlight that in order to keep a man, one must be concerned with their physical beauty. These messages are not only overtly printed, but some women—such as influencers and celebrities—are also shown in provocative clothes as decorative items that draw attention to their body parts and preparedness to spread these messages (Vaes, 2011). Women are portrayed in ways that appeal to men. For example, men frequently make sexual remarks about a woman’s bodily parts, hair, face, and attitude, objectifying her based only on her outward appearance (Szymanski & Moffitt, 2011, p. 10). For instance, Hooters is a restaurant with a reputation for having attractive young female waitresses who offer finger foods while dressed in short skorts and low-cut crop tops with the Hooters emblem across the chest. Men may sense that the real ladies serving them are just poster girls coming to life rather than “real” women when they look at these women’s images, which might cross a fine line (Vaes, 2011). The restaurants are always open to the male gaze and are covered with numerous posters and images of the barely dressed Hooters Girls. These pictures can also be seen in periodicals aimed at men that promote activities such as waitress swimsuit competitions, where the primary goal is to criticize and ogle women (Szymanski & Moffitt, 2011, p. 27). Men forget that women are human people with feelings and dignity, not merely objects of physical pleasure and gratification, which is why women are treated with disdain; This emphasizes gender roles and how attractive women are, a male-dominated trait that draws attention from men. These publications also impact women’s perceptions of gender roles and physical attractiveness by providing them with images or carefully chosen advertisements that shape their ideas about what it means to be feminine. The same is done by advertisements that specifically target males; they feature men who have been photoshopped to look muscular, which denotes their masculinity, to convince other men who view these magazines to believe that this is how they should look to be considered men and macho enough. ; This is a method of “doing gender,” where men and women are made to feel as though they must fit into a specific mold to achieve gender; magazines that spread information that heavily centers around this are toxic and far from the truth because “doing gender” produces differences that are not organic or biological. Instead, these differences have been manufactured and perpetuated by media, particularly magazines, which support these fabrications (West & Zimmerman, p. 39).; This demonstrates how gender stereotypes between boys and girls and between men and women have been perpetuated in the media to produce discrepancies. These unnatural distinctions aim to illustrate what it means to be male and female. These socially manufactured values are displayed in advertisements, kid-targeted television programming, and Teen Vogue magazines. Furthermore, the mass media plays a big part in structuring gender to objectify women. “This has been demonstrated through cleaning advertising targeted to women, Disney-themed television and movies, and magazines with sexualized depictions of women.
Geronimi, C. (Director). (2014). Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition Blu-Ray Movie CLIP – Love’s First Kiss [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=DbGQJ9xKx3M
Guo, J. (2019, August 07). Researchers have found a major problem with Disney movies.
Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/25/researchers- have-discovered-a-major-problem-with-the-little-mermaid-and-other-disney-movies/
Szymanski, D. M., & Moffitt, L. (2011). Sexual Objectification of Women: Advances to Theory and Research. Retrieved from https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search? q=cache:KOuHujBliV8J:https://www.apa.org/education/ce/sexualobjectification.pdf+&cd= 6&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca&client=firefox-b-ab
Tiffany, K. (2019, June 18). Gender stereotypes have been banned from British ADS. What does that mean? Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/6/18/18684088/uk- gender-stereotype-ad-ban-sexism-advertising-history
Vaes, J. (2011, June 11). Are sexualized women complete human beings? Why men and women dehumanize sexually objectified women. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary-wiley- com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/doi/full/10.1002/ejsp.824
Wang, Y. (2016). Sexual objectification of women in advertising. Retrieved from https://www.grin.com/document/337767
Zimmerman, D. H. West, C. (2015). Doing Gender. (Ed.), The Gendered Society Reader (3rd Canadian Edition ed., Oxford, pp. 35-39). Michael S. Kimmel.
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In this activity, you will examine how the media constructs gender norms.
Pick from one of the following forms of media, and examine the gendered images and messages created about what it means to be a man and woman in society: magazines (American Girl and Scout Life are great choices), television advertisements, a film, or social media.
As you examine your form of media, write your answers to these questions:
What messages are being conveyed about what it means to be a boy or man or girl, or woman in society?
Do the images and messages you see maintain the gender binary, challenge it, or redefine it?
How are people “doing gender” in this form of media?
Be sure to respond to at least one of your classmates’ posts.
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