Samples Media Gendered Media

Gendered Media

990 words 4 page(s)

Modern media are known for presenting the consumers with images of what men and women are and what they should be. Portrayal of stereotypical gender roles of men and women highlights specific characteristics which differ based on a projected gender role. In advertising, this may be caused by the need to sell products through shaping associations with masculinity or femininity, whereas in the entertainment industry, the idea behind gender stereotyping in the media is the need to conform to the expectations of the society. This paper compares and contrasts how men and women are portrayed on television based on the examples from various TV shows, cartoons, and commercials. It also discusses the effects these portrayals have on the audience.

Analysis of the pertinent academic sources on the issue of gendered media allows claiming that men and women are portrayed in two different ways: from the perspective of a traditional, patriarchal perspective with men represented as a dominant and “stronger” sex and from the feminist viewpoint, where men are “put down” (Macnamara, 2006; Woods, 2005). In rare cases, however, men and women are represented with mixed characteristics, not particularly distinguishing between a “stronger” and “weaker” sex (England, Descartes, & Collier-Meek, 2011). Let us investigate all three cases and examine the specifics of men and women portrayals in the media.

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First, scholars agree that the gender role portrayal in the Western media are more favorable to men and portray men in higher social roles. Found that in the European media advertisements, women are predominantly shown as users of products (up to 80% of all women in advertisements) whereas only 42.9% of men are portrayed as users. Respectively, 38.1% of men are portrayed as authority figures (Furnham & Paltzer, 2010). Further, women are most likely to be portrayed in the young age (at least 60% of all women in the advertisements) whereas the age of men portrayed in the commercials is predominantly middle – 64. 1% (Furnham & Paltzer, 2010). Moreover, in the United States, women are represented more within household or family settings (27% of women versus 13% of men) while men are most likely to be portrayed outdoors (29% of men versus 18% of women) (Bresnahan et al, 2001).

Thematically, themes associated with females in advertising in the U.S. have been home, body, and food, whereas themes associated with males have been alcohol, car, and sport (Bresnahan et al, 2001). Also, women have been often portrayed as submissive, vulnerable, sexually available, seductive, not alert, with closed eyes, touching themselves, lying on the floor, and depending on a man or some object for support (See Figure 1). At the same time, men are portrayed with a mean facial expression, open eyes, standing upright, with hands in pockets, gripping things with their hands, and physically strong (See Figure 2).

As for qualities attributed to men and women in the gendered media, these, too, differ a lot. Men are typically portrayed in the prime time shows and films as tough, hard, sweaty, serious, alert and well-conscious of the surrounding reality, and in control of their bodies (Elliott & Elliott, 2005). Besides, they are portrayed as independent, competent, powerful, sexually aggressive, violent, unafraid, and in control of their emotions (Wood, 2005). The examples include the movies Gladiator, Armageddon, The Fight Club, Die Hard, and Robocop, etc. In television shows and in reality TV, men, are often portrayed according to a macho stereotype. The examples include Joe Millionaire, when a man made women shovel horse manure; For Love or Money, when a male participant made a woman bend over so that she could pull of his shoes while he just kicked her bottom; and The Man Show, which portrayed women in a misogynistic fashion while men – from a position of power and intelligence. In cartoons, too, men and women have been attributed certain characteristics similar to those in TV shows, advertisements, and movies. For instance, in a Disney cartoon Pocahontas, the prince is very “masculine,” since he is stoic, unemotional, athletic, assertive, physically strong, and with leadership qualities. By contrast, the princess is athletic as well, but she is physically weaker, tentative, and troublesome.

However, as John Macnamara argues, in his book Media and Male Identity, the tradition representation of men described above is not the case any longer. On the opposite, men are increasingly being portrayed with negative underpinnings, as fools, child molesters, clowns, or murderers. Macnamara asserts that modern media are hostile to men and put them down. He illustrates his argument with the example of The Simpsons show. According to Macnamara (2006), the father character is stupid, chauvinistic, irresponsible, and lazy; Bart, his son, is cruel to his sister, rebellious, rude, naughty, and mischievous. In contrast, mother and daughter are both kind, intelligent, and thoughtful. Likewise, Oprah is thought to be a men-denigrating show (Macnamara, 2006).

Rarely does it happen that less gendered-based portrayals happen, yet this trend is now taking place. In The Princess and the Frog, another Disney cartoon, the prince and the princess are portrayed just this way. Specifically, the man is portrayed as showing his emotions, athletic, and affectionate. Similarly, the princess character is strong enough: she is able to accomplish her dreams, recues, and achieves her aim by hard work (England et al, 2011).

In conclusion, the media’s mainstream today is still gender stereotyped. In commercials and movies, the traditional stereotypical roles of men and women prevail. In the entertainment industry, however, TV shows and cartoons often portray men as “weaker” than women or move to non-gender-biased portrayals.

  • Bresnahan, M.J., Inoue, Y., Liu, W.Y. & Nishida, T. (2001). Changing gender roles in prime-time commercials in Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, and the United States. Sex Roles, 45, 117–131.
  • England, D., Descartes, L., Collier-Meek, M. (2011). Gender role portrayal and the Disney princesses. Sex Roles, 64, 555-567.
  • Elliott, R. & Elliott, C. (2005). Idealized images of the male body in advertising: A reader-response exploration. Journal of Marketing Communications, 11 (1), 3-19.
  • Furnham, A. & Paltzer, S. (2010). The portrayal of men and women in television advertisements: An updated review of 30 studies published since 2000. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 51, 216-236.
  • Macnamara, J. (2006). Media and Male Identity. Palgrave McMillan.