The Changing Stereotype of the Prototypical Male Sam Reiner Sociology 235 Erica Dixon
I’m interested in this topic because… As a male I am curious to know why and how we developed this stereotypical male role There has been little research into this topic Looking at the generations in my family (my brother and I, father, and grandfathers) I would like to see how we came to all have different ideas one what the prototypical male should be
Background Research I had a very hard time trying to find some background research associated with my study. The closest I could find is the studies from the work of Talcott Parsons.” Parsons argued that society had two types of major functions—production and reproduction—and that these required two separate institutional systems—the occupational system and the kinship system—which, in turn, required two types of roles that needed to be filled in order for it to function successfully.” (Kimmel, 105-106). Although this doesn’t account for certain characteristics of the stereotypical male, it does however create an answer for many of the qualities we see in today’s males that we also see in males all throughout the past. “Instrumental roles demanded rationality, autonomy, and competitiveness…” (Kimmel 106). This is very interesting to me because though I believe that the stereotypical male has changed over time, there still remains many qualities in a male that are unwavering and unchanging.
Hypothesis The body image, attitude, actions and gender roles of the stereotypical male have changed greatly over time, especially in the last few decades. Not only has the media influenced this but also the women’s rights/equality movement has led to the changes in the changing of the stereotypical male.
Subjects I used a convenience sample 20 different participants Age groups of 18-29, 30-44, 45-59, 60+ There were 5 subjects in each age group All subjects were in committed relationships Of different race, education, income and religious beleifs
Method I used a survey to ask them 6 questions Do you consider yourself masculine? What is the most important characteristic in a male? What is a male’s role in a relationship? Who is your role model or who do you look up to? Do you think the media portrays the ideal male? How has the women’s right’s/equality movement affected you?
Results Question 1 Question one I found to be very interesting. All 20 of the subjects that took the survey (all males) said that they considered themselves to be masculine. This is the only question that I asked that wasn’t open ended. If I could ask this question again I would have added a why? to the end of it because I think that it would have helped me a lot more to understand the thinking and reasoning that went into the results of this particular question.
Results Question 2 At least one person in each age group said respect was the most important characteristic. The youngest age group had four of the five people say that respect was the most important.. The 30-44 age group has a more variety of answers two people stated responsible as being most important to them. the 45-59 age range I got back two people saying hard-working and two that said integrity. The oldest age group actually had the widest array of answers. I was really surprised by one answer of loving. Considering that everyone referred themselves to be masculine, the fact that someone would say loving, which is usually attributed with females, to be the most important characteristic in a male.
Question 3 The 60+ age group seemed to view their role in a relationship as the provider. They felt that the female was more dependent on them to be successful and happy, like they were the rock for their very fragile companion. The 45-59 was similar to that in they saw themselves as the provider but they also viewed themselves as a protector. The 30-44 age group was a little different even yet. They didn’t view themselves as a provider so much. While they feel as though it is there job to be the protector, they see themselves more as equals in the relationship with the female. What I found to be very interesting is in the youngest group. It almost seemed as though they were taking more of submissive role in the relationship. They didn’t think they had to provide for the female, they just had to do what was necessary to please their companion.
Question 5 In the question, “do you think the media portrays the ideal man?” the first three age groups thought yes, the media does portray the ideal man, The 60+ age group on the other hand thought that a lot of the men depicted in the media were not even close to how a man should act. They believed that the media doesn’t portray positive qualities in males today.
Conclusion After looking over the results of my survey, I find many answers very interesting. I believe that it does show that the media and the women’s rights movement have both contributed to the changing of the stereotypical male over time. As you can see the media of course plays a huge role in this. In question 4, when talking about role models, the 60+ group looked up to their fathers and grandfathers and other family members as a way to judge their own behavior. As the ages get younger and technology advances and becomes a bigger part in our everyday lives, you can see the influence is greater.By looking at the beliefs held by different age groups, we can see over time how the media and women’s rights have started a trend towards gender equality.
Conclusion I should have asked all open ended questions I think also if I would have used a random sample it would have been of greater use as I used family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances Also a bigger sample would be a lot more helpful
Reference Kimmel, Michael. 2011. The Gendered Society, Fourth Edition. New York, New York. Oxford.