Gender As A Social Ins0tu0on in Media A comparison of 2 popular TV sitcoms, from diﬀerent 0mes, depic0ng ‘tradi0onal’ American families Presenta0on by: Lydia Rosa Topics of Gender Communica0on 3 Professor Maureen Ebben 4/22/13
Contents of the Presenta0on • Slides 3 – 7 : An overview of the families in the TV sitcoms • Slide 8 : Media & Economics • Slide 9: Media & Power • Slide 10: Gender/Hegemony in Media: Leave it to Beaver & Modern Family • Slide 11: TV Gender Norm’s in Families around the 1950’s & 60’s • Slides 12‐18: Comparison of diﬀerent Gender Roles as it pertains to the TV sitcoms • Slide 19: Interlocking Ins0tu0ons • Slide 20: Bibliography
Broadcasted from 1957‐1963 American Television series about the ‘tradi0onal’ family of its 0me. Focused on the children of a suburban family in ‘Mayﬁeld’ Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley): (Jerry Mathers): ‐Tradi0onal mother of the 1950’s ‐The younger, slightly ‐”She a]ended State College, hyperac0ve, troubling‐making and a^er comple0ng her brother. educa0on, married Ward and ‐Very lovable, has lots of friends. began living the ideal 50s ‐Main Character domes0c lifestyle.” Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont): Wallace “Wally” Cleaver ‐”A responsible businessman and an (Tony Dow): even more responsible parent. ‐The popular older brother, ‐He became president of his and track star. fraternity at State College and ‐Watches out for Beaver at was an engineer with the all costs. Seabees during World War II.” ‐Described as the ‘typical’ ‐Levelheaded, a]en0ve, loving teen. father.
2009‐ present On the 4th Season A comedy on 3 related families, with very diﬀerent family structures. This comedy truly shows the vast changes that the ‘tradi0onal’ American family has evolved into.
• Claire Dunphy, daughter of Jay Pritche], has 3 children with husband, Phil. • Daughter Haley, the oldest, pushes to act like an adult, and to be treat as an adult.. Even in her teens. • Daughter Alex, the middle child, is very smart.. Almost too smart for her own good. • And the youngest, Luke, seems mostly sca]ered brained. • Phil, ‘the man of the house’, o^en acts as a child himself.. With the best inten0ons of course. • Claire, is the glue that keeps everyone together in the family, and the children happy The Dunphy Family but also behaving. (from le^ to right): • This family is the closest to a ‘tradi0onal Daughter ‐Alex (Ariel Winter) family’, like the Cleavers of Leave It To Beaver. Father ‐Phil (Ty Burrell) But they also test the image of a ‘normal’ Daughter‐ Haley (Sarah Hyland) American family. And help the viewer to look Mother Claire‐ (Julie Bowen) deeper into what normal actually is in terms Son Luke ‐(Nolan Gould) of family.
• Jay Pritche], biological father of Claire Dunphy & Mitchell Pritche]. • Remarried to Gloria, and in doing so accepted another son into his life. • Manny, is a very lovable 12 year old boy. • This family represents the pieced together family of modern 0mes. The PritcheQ’s Husband Jay (Ed O’Neill) • They experience some cultural Son (Step‐son) Manny Delgado clashes, and misunderstandings (Rico Rodrigues) due to genera0onal gaps, but in Wife/Mother Gloria Delgado‐ the end are a happy, loving family, PritcheQ (Soﬁa Vergara) helping to rewrite the tradi0onal roles of family in America.
• Jay’s Pritche]’s son, Mitchell, is a very loving man. Especially when it comes to his long term partner, Cameron and adopted daughter, Lily. Mitchell stays more reserved, in a more ‘masculine’ male role. • Cameron has the ‘typical’ gay man aftude, he takes the feminine role of the house. • While Lily is the cutest bu]on, and epitome of the shining star in their lives. The Tucker‐PritcheQ’s • This family o^en has some of the Father Mitchell PritcheQ (Jesse best cooping mechanism’s to Tyler Ferguson) dealing with family issues, in Adopted Daughter Lily Tucker‐ comparison to the other families in PritcheQ (Audrey Anderson‐ this sitcom. This is one of the ﬁrst homosexual couples to be depicted Emmons) on main stream television, and has Father Cameron Tucker (Eric deﬁnitely pushed the limits in terms Stonestreet) of the “normal” American family.
Media & Economics • The social class of the families in Leave it to Beaver & Modern Family show that the message they put out is being received by viewers that can iden0fy with them. • They are all well‐oﬀ families, without diﬃcult money issues to worry about. They have pre]y expensive homes and home furnishings, as well as the latest vehicles and gadgets around the house. • By presen0ng the characters as ‘normal’ in terms of economic class, it is easier to generalize about the social stereotypes they are suppor0ng or opposing.
Media & Power • “Media ins0tu0ons… both constrain and facilitate behavior by members of a society in which the ins0tu0on exists.” (DeFrancisco, et al. 2007) • “Media exert power over how people do gender… media forms also always inﬂuence social norms concerning gender [etc.].. And all the other ingredients that cons0tute iden0ty, for they provide models of what it is to be feminine or masculine, and encourage people to buy products that will make them more so.” (DeFrancisco, et al. 2007) • These are some very strong statements from the text. This is saying that media, such as TV sitcoms and along with all other forms of media, have power over viewers. • Speciﬁcally, the TV shows in my presenta0on have power of society to change how they think about the gender roles in a ‘tradi0onal’ American family. • I outlined this presenta0on to point out the diﬀerences in Leave it to Beaver & Modern Family because it perfectly depicts the power television can have over and with society. • TV sitcoms, especially series that are as popular as these 2, are what families all over America have been modeling themselves a^er for many years. And I am ecsta0c to see improvements in the depic0on of an American family. • The power media has over the gender norms of a modern day family are huge, and I am proud of our country and society for accep0ng the families of Modern Family so much, that it has become a hit TV series. This shows the progress our world is making to treat everyone respecoully and equally. • Good communica0on skills, awareness of diversity in the world, and acceptance of everyone is the key to worldwide happiness. And the media has a strong hold on how far we can push ourselves to that goal.
Gender/Hegemony in Media: Leave it to Beaver & Modern Family • MY AIM: By comparing shows from diﬀerent ]mes I hope to shine light on gender in the media of television shows, and how we are either s]ll enforcing societal norms or opposing gender societal norms within TV sitcoms. – Just as within the book, then characters within both shows “abide by tradi0onal gender/sex expecta0ons” (DeFrancisco, et al. 2007). While also, “Maintain[ing] hegemonic understandings of gender even as they create gaps and ﬁssures in representa0on of gender.” (DeFrancisco, et al. 2007) • The diﬀerence in the representa0on of the ‘tradi0onal’ American family in these comedy’s depicts the vast changes our society has gone through in terms of gender being a social ins0tu0on. • Leave it to Beaver is known for being an example of “the true American family”. By comparing it to a sitcom that has come out in opposi0on of this depic0on, Modern Family, I can show the vast changes society has experienced while deﬁning a new ‘normal’ family. • “Media also enable people to work the weaknesses in the norms and challenge common assump0ons.” (DeFrancisco, et al. 2007)
TV Gender Norm’s in Families around the 1950’s & 60’s • Mother’s & women have been depicted, in the past, as being the care‐ giver of the children, more emo0onal, needy, and in less control of the family ma]ers than the man/husband. • The girl’s/daughters were normally depicted being a mini‐mom. They would either be playing house, doll, or making food. Completely ﬁlling the ‘normal’ li]le girl role of the past. • Men & fathers have been depicted as ‘the man of the house’, in control of the family ma]ers, working more o^en then not, and showing great strength, courage, and boldness (and minimal feelings or emo0on). • The son’s/boy’s in ‘tradi0onal’ American family roles were focused on sports, playing with friends, causing mischief, and gefng dirty. Younger boys socializing with girls by tormen0ng or poking fun at them, while the older boys focused on swooning and da0ng them.
Comparison of Gender Roles: Women Claire Dunphy (boQom lea & top right >), one of two mothers on Modern Family, is one of the most ‘tradi0onal’ mothers of this show. But with 3 children to raise, and Gloria Delgado‐PritcheQ, (^ top lea & a husband who o^en acts like a kid, it’s all boQom right) June Cleave (top lea), she can do to keep her sanity. Let alone, mother of Manny Delgado, is younger than her new step‐sister. She’s used to the mother on Leave it to Beaver, dinner ready every night. the ﬁner things in life, and spends held the typical motherly roles quite a bit of 0me worried about during her 0me on the show. Her • This is a be]er depic0on of an average appearances. However, this does not hair was always nicely curled, the mother in this 0me. The mother juggling hem of her dresses always well work, children, and family obliga0ons, all mean she is not a caring, loving, mother and wife.. With a bit of a hot below her knee, and her manner while trying to keep up her rela0onship always pleasant and caring. She with her gay brother, recently remarried head. As with Claire, she tries to keep father, and younger step mother. up with the ‘normal’ obliga0on of the was ﬁlmed mostly in the home, home, but o^en life gets in the way. especially the kitchen. • Claire has been described as a ‘tom boy’ • She ﬁlled the “normal” mother • She is a great depic0on of a modern in some episodes, and has issues role, in a “tradi0onal” American mother, and tests societal stereotypes expressing her feelings to her family home during the 1960’s. in further by marrying quite a bit members. • Played a feminine female role, • Her character conﬁrms some of the older than her, and being Spanish. main care giver for the children, female stereotypes, while also opposing and was held responsible for the some of them. • Gloria strengthens the emo0onal, ‘house keeping’. stereotype that women are supposed to follow. However, she deﬁnitely has her own voice, opinion, and style when it comes to her femininity.. And it has nothing to do with stereotype!
Comparison of Gender Roles: Women Con0nued MY VIEW: • While women roles in TV series keep up with the “expectable standard of a]rac0veness”, the role of women and mother has been completely shi^ed in present 0me. • Feminists and supporters of equal gender rights have been working extremely hard to change to social image of the mother of the house in recent 0mes. • As you can see, the role of mother is only one aspect of a women character. As women, we are now depicted with more depth. And more power over family decisions. It seems as though in recent TV sitcoms about family, women are the head of the household. O^en, the women is making key decisions and wears the pants in the marriage. • While s0ll mostly depicted as the primary care givers for the children, as well as the primary ‘house keeper’, women have much more in depth character represen0ng their gender roles in TV • While Claire has the most ‘tradi0onal’ American family she diﬀers from June quite a bit. Claire has a hard 0me expressing feelings, she plays a more masculine female character. • And While Gloria’s family may not be the most ‘tradi0onal’, she plays a very feminine female character. However, her role in the family is not primary ‘house keeper’.
Comparison of Gender Roles: Girls • Although ‘Beaver’ didn’t have a sister, 1960’s TV depicted girls as innocent, 0mid, and shy. • They were o^en depicted in the stereotypical girl role, helping out their mothers, playing indoors, with dolls/doll houses, and playing house. • Alex (on the le^ ^), is more reserved, and focused on school. She o^en thinks she may be • For example: Cindy Brady from The Brady Bunch (below) too smart for her own family. She is very introverted. • Haley (on the right ^), is the over‐drama0c older sister. She is impossibly focused on boys, and da0ng. And has mo0va0on to grow up very quickly. She o^en takes on an air‐head role, while also being quite opposi0onal with her parents. • Haley and Alex Dunphy are sisters, from very diﬀerent direc0ons. • These girls depict a much more ‘normal’ image of girls today. They show the variety of interests teen girls share, and the vast level at which girls are focused. MY VIEW: • I believe the young to early teen female role hasn’t evolved quite as much as other roles because there hasn’t been a large gap between reality and TV show gender representa0on in the last 50 years. • However, we have seen a diﬀerence in the level of freedom in the character. Girls are not depicted as lady‐like as they have in the past. They have more freedom in shows to play sports, study, and focus on their lives. • Modern Family maintains the status quo of ‘normal’ for younger girls in Lily Tucker‐Pritche] ^ is the youngest character terms of appearance. While also pushing for less conformity to previously on Modern Family, and follows a ‘li]le princess’ stereotypical interests. role similar to Cindy Brady’s.
Comparison of Gender Roles: Men • Jay Pritche] (le^ ^), and Phil Dunphy (right ^), have the most ‘normal’, tradi0onal masculine male character roles. They’re characters are straight, married, have children and hold jobs. • However, Jay ﬁlls the ‘man of the house’ role more than Phil. • Jay puts his foot down more o^en, and shows less emo0on than Phil. • However, in terms of ﬁnal decisions within the household, the wives have the last say. • Modern Family follows the “happy wife, is a happy life” term quite a bit. • Ward Cleaver (to the right) is the typical masculine, male character. He’s a ‘guys, guy’. His character does not diﬀer too far from the stereotypical, ‘father’ role that we ﬁrst think of. • He’s the breadwinner, former President of his Fraternity, and has a successful engineering career. He comes home expec0ng dinner on the table, a clean household and well behaved children. • On top of that, he has 2 sons. Leaving absolutely no room for any sort of sappy, emo0onal conversa0on between father and daughter.
Comparison of Gender Roles: Men Con0nued • Cameron plays a feminine, gay, male role. Or ‘the woman’ in the rela0onship. He is a li]le over emo0onal, and concerned with keeping the home well kept, and Lily (their adopted daughter) very well spoiled. • While Mitchell, is much more reserved and masculine ac0ng. He plays the ‘man of the house’ role quite well. He’s the primary breadwinner of the • Cameron Tucker (le^) and Mitchell Pritche] (right) family and has a diﬃcult 0me expressing feelings and are one of America’s ﬁrst, main character, gay emo0ons. He also takes on the role of ‘bad cop’ in couple, on a hit TV sitcom. And to add gay family to that list, is incredible. the paren0ng of Lily… when Cameron can’t seem to • The reason I chose Modern Family has a lot to do get over his motherly ins0nct of coddling her. with the societal boundaries certain aspects of the • The writers of Modern Family did an amazing job at show push. This, certainly, being one of them. presen0ng this couple to the public. I believe it was • This is an example of media opposing social norms. all in how they presented a ‘normal’ gay family, as to This is an extremely important and new‐age depic0on of an American family. I believe, with how they receive so much posi0ve feedback on the more depic0on of gay families as ‘normal’ families, concept. This shows it also takes eﬀort from the even more poli0cal ac0on will follow. This is a writers and directors when opposing certain social situa0on where awareness of the opposed gender role/family role/sexual orienta0on role has brought norms. If you go too far with them (for example: 2 our community to a be]er understanding of the extremely feminine, over emo0onal men, raising a posi0ve aspect of gay families. And has even shown daughter) the support wouldn’t have been as that they are not any diﬀerent than families with a mother and father, or even 2 mothers… which we prevalent. have yet to have a hit TV show focusing on.
Comparison of Gender Roles: Men Con0nued My View: • The diﬀerence between men/father in the 1950’s and men today is based around expecta0ons. Men in the past were expected to control the household, be the leader of the family, make the money for the family, and not to have too many ‘feminine’ emo0ons. • However, men today are more so expected to make their wives happy. Or at least, that’s how it is depicted in most TV sitcoms. The lead role of the house has shi^ed from the husband, to the wife. I believe this shi^ has occurred over 0me because of the progress in equal right women have made throughout the years. • The role of the husband in most TV sitcoms focusing on families is almost one of childish, nuisances, with a li]le bit of breadwinner mixed in. He is to raise his sons to be strong, powerful men, and sports players, while also help around the house with the chores and meals. They also have a much stronger role in raising the children, in general. • The gender roles of husband and wife have balanced out immensely in recent 0mes, and I would say are some of the biggest gender/family roles progressions in media. • The gender roles of homosexual people in the media are extremely new, but in all the depic0ons I have seen in recent TV, they are exactly the opposi0onal depic0ons of societal norms that we need to have a fair, equally trea0ng, balanced, society.
Comparison Gender Roles: Boys • Manny Delgado (le^), is a diﬀerent take on a young man. He has a lot of wisdom, an old‐soul. • He’s interested in the arts, theatre, and studying. • Luke Dunphy (bo]om le^) has a lot of • He’s a very cau0ous young boy, and similari0es to Beaver (top le^). doesn’t take to Luke’s mischievous • They are the youngest siblings, and like to behavior very well. cause a li]le bit of mischief.. every day. • He o^en looks out for his mothers • However, Luke doesn’t have an older brother best interest, they are extremely to look up to.. So his idol is his father (bo]om right). Both don’t seem to have close and have a best friend bond as many leadership tendencies within them. well as a parent‐son bond. • Wally (top right) is every bit the all‐American • Manny pushes the idea of what boys teenaged, older brother to Beaver. His main are ‘supposed’ to be doing, and how focus, in baseball and da0ng. they are ‘supposed’ to act. • These 3 characters support the young man stereotype while Manny’s character opposes it. My View: • Manny’s character holds a bigger part than Luke’s. Leading me to believe that stereotype of boys has also been changing. • I believe this change is rela0vely mild, in majority of TV sitcoms we do not see this happening. • However, Modern Family does a great job at poin0ng out the ﬂexibility boys can have in interests and ac0vi0es.
Interlocking ins0tu0ons • In our media saturated society, it is clear that our everyday lives are eﬀected by what we watch on television. • More recent television series are a lot more progressive and opposi0onal than the TV sitcoms in the 1950’s (Leave it to Beaver). Before there was such a large push for social change and equality, writers and directors of show’s about the American family did not want to push social limits, or didn’t feel like they could. • Today, we live in a much more liberal, free‐thinking, accep0ng and equal trea0ng society. And that is how media will represent it. It’s extremely posi0ve that our mainstream television is interpre0ng such social change as gay couples being married and adop0ng, or women being able to have a life that is independent of her family and women. • Television par0cipates in “interpre0ng social change and managing cultural beliefs” (Dow, 1996, p. xv). • Because “[m]edia messages are diverse, diﬀuse and contradictory” they do not enter unﬁltered into people’s worldviews; instead, they “are resources which individuals use to think through their sense of self and modes of expression” (Gauntle], 2002, p. 256).
Bibliography • h]p://www.tvland.com/shows/leave‐it‐to‐ beaver/bios • h]p://www.imdb.com/0tle/]1442437/ • DeFrancisco, Victoria L., and Catherine Helen. Palczewski. Communica7ng Gender Diversity: A Cri7cal Approach. Los Angeles: Sage Publica7ons, 2007. Print.