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Gender in Media


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Gender in Media

  1. 1. GENDER IN MEDIA Role Of Media In Creating Gender Identity And Role In Society COURSE INSTRUCTOR Lailufar Yasmin DEV 505: Gender & Development
  2. 2. Page1 This assignment was prepared for the course DEV 505: Gender and Development as term assignment, in Summer 2015. The Paper Was Prepared By: 1. Tahrima Ahmed Trishna 14206230 2. Saad Hammadi 3. Tanzila Tajreen 15162001 4. Rifat Farzana 15162005 To be reviewed by course instructor: Lailufar Yasmin
  3. 3. Page2 Acknowledgement This research report is part of DEV 505: Gender and Development course. We would like to thank Ms. Lailufur Yasmin, the course faculty, for her guidance, patience and cooperation in providing us the foundation knowledge about gender issues to develop this research report. We show gratitude for other team members who provided their insight and feedback about the research topic. Our immense appreciation to the participants for their time to interview. They played a major role sharing their pearls of wisdom and comments about the research questions. We would like to thank BIGD for offering this course which gave us the opportunity to learn about gender and development and conduct this research. Last but not least, we are glad to be part of an effective team where all the members contributed actively and timely. We appreciate and acknowledge all your effort and contribution to develop this research report. Thank you
  6. 6. Page5 “We act as if that being of a man or that being of a woman is actually an internal reality or something that is simply true about us, a fact about us, but actually it's a phenomenon that is being produced all the time and reproduced all the time, so to say gender is performative is to say that nobody really is a gender from the start.” - Judith Butler Judith Butler is an American philosopher and gender theorist whose work has influenced political philosophy and the fields post modern feminist theory. Her notable ideas are gender as social construction and gender performativity1 . 1
  7. 7. Page6 I. Abstract Social perception about gender roles and identity is often reinforced by representation of men and women in media. Gender is the learned difference of men and women which is ascribed through traditional, cultural, social values and meanings. Over time, these values are constructed through our knowledge from social institutions. Our knowledge about gender is developed through our regular activities and what we see. In this regard, media as a social institution has a profound role to aid our knowledge development about gender roles and identity. Traditionally, media represents women in passive roles like mother; good housewives etc. and often limited their actions. As well ass, women are stereotyped as always being dependent, submissive and good looking objects. On other hand, men are portrayed a strong, active and dominant character. These representations shape the understanding of how to be masculine and feminine. The identity of gender is an idea or ideology that has transformed across time and context. This study examines the trend of media, particularly print advertisements, to represent women and men over time and what modern media is promoting about gender roles and identity. Furthermore, this research explores the message sent to society from past and modern print advertisements and analyzes the impact on gender role segregation. II. Introduction Gender is embedded in our social and cultural values and meanings so it is important to examine how those meanings circulate our life and what influences them. The social values are constructed through what we see and understand as part of our history, tradition and social institution. In this regard, media has emerged as a powerful social institution to shape cultural values, social structures and operations. It is through the reinforcement of gender stereotypes and gender display in media that influences the way society perceives and constructs gender. Gender identity is constructed through cultural and social meaning ascribed to a persons’ sex. WHO i2 defines gender 2
  8. 8. Page7 as a result of socially constructed ideas about the behavior, actions and roles a particular sex performs. Hence, gender can be seen as an idea or ideology that is not absolute or set in nature like biology. Biology defines your sex while gender is the learned difference about men or women and the relationship between them. Media influences individuals to participate in a gendered world. Overtime, men within media are represented as strong, dominant, aggressive, independent, subject, breadwinner, active and other bold characteristics. This has historically constructed the ideas of what constitutes masculinity. In contrast, media projects women as weak, vulnerable, dependent, passive, emotional, nurturer, objects etc. which defines the femininity ideas. Hence, masculinity and femininity are also embedded with cultural values and meanings that is influenced by media representation of gender. 3 Media stereotypes the role of women and men causing both positive and negative effect to manipulate individual’s knowledge and opinion thus resulting in a social perception. However, stereotypes are often incomplete or a false representation of reality. This often hinders the status and process of empowering women. The power of media plays a big role in our everyday life. People construct their knowledge about gender roles and identity by seeing and understanding activities in everyday life. In this regard, media is one of the determining factors aiding to shape the social perception about gender roles and identity. Although, there is a generation difference in terms of how gender is represented in media but gender roles and identity, across different forms of media, are still projected in different ways and characteristics that demeans women. III. Literature Review Over decades, print media like books, magazines, advertisements and internet has played a profound role to define gender identity by stereotyping and segregating gender roles. But gender 3 media/
  9. 9. Page8 can seen as an ideology that has evolved eventually as social norms, time and context changed. In modern times, we perceive pink for girls and blue for boys but early 20th century social norms were reversed where boys wore pink and girls wore blue. Betty Friednan, American feminist and writer, noticed that in 1939 media projected women as active, determined and independent despite their roles as a heroine. However, after World War II, media promoted role of housewives as the prime source of happiness. Advertisements from the early 20th century were offensive, sexist and racist that demeaned femininity compared to masculinity. Some examples are from the vintage ads cited in the sections below. From the 1960s onwards, media has evolved in all forms to define gender identity and represent a broader convention of women. The feminist movements challenged the patriarchy which sought to gain equality for women. In the process, women gained respect, opportunities and legislation for women, giving them the chance to step into what had once been men’s shoes. Women have always been represented in a narrow set where they are related to domestic situations such as housewives, mothers or a sexual objectification in which they are shown as entertainment for males. Earlier, a vacuum cleaner advertisement would portray women as a ‘good housewife’ obsessed with cleaning (stereotype). The false consciousness happening is that women should be concerned with keeping their houses clean. The false need coming up is to buy the vacuum cleaner for women to keep the house clean. This is the stereotypical role of women still perceived in few Southern countries. Media has evolved significantly in terms of representing women and creating gender identity but the traditional social norms of femininity like looking beautiful; having size zero body etc. is still promoted indirectly. However, in modern media gender roles are less offensive then before. Not only women are represented as independent and confident but increasing numbers of women are also working in media and tend to provide a positive role for women. This women empowerment creates a balance in defining gender identity through media and avoids stereotypical roles of men and women. By creating these representations, media is setting norms and standards in a society. Representation of women across all media and overtime tends to highlight the following:4 4
  10. 10. Page9  Beauty ( with narrow conventions)  Size or physique (narrow conventions)  Sexuality  Emotional dealings  Relationships (as opposed to independence) Media creates stereotypical role of men and women by creating false needs and consciousness. This study examines the influence of media to construct gender identity over time and how it has segregated gender role. IV. Media and Gender Representationsofgenderinadvertisementsprovidepowerfulmodelsofbehaviortoemulateorreactagainst. Masculine images typically convey power, strength, virility, athleticism, and competitiveness whereas feminine images show beauty, submissiveness, nurturance, and cooperation. Such themes appear repeatedly inpopularculture(includingadvertisements)andareoftenacceptedbythosewhoseethem as natural aspects of the human condition. Who teaches the behavioral expectations of gender roles? Certainly parents and other early caretakers instill these cultural norms, but there are many other influences as well—peers, other adults, schools, and the mass media. The end result is that individuals are shaped, patterned, and encouraged to take on their culture's appropriate roles as males or females. What they learn—the internalized attitudes and behavioral expectations about maleness and femaleness—is gender. Most social scientists use gender to refer to these learned attributes of masculinity and femininity in a culture. By contrast, they use sex to refer to the biological differences between males and females. Distinguishing between these two ideas—that is, between what is innate and what is learned—is helpful in studying masculinity and femininity.
  11. 11. Page10 V. Theoretical Approach Media and gender refers to the influence of media on gender identification. The media creates representations that give a particular picture or model of someone or something. Also, with mass media (such as radio, movies, internet, television), those representations become tangible references in society and this can influence people's gender identity. This research would take into consideration two forms of media exposer; print advertisements and viral messages that get shared on the social media. We will analyze above-mentioned forms of communication and its subtle impact on the society. We have kept it in mind that media reflects society, but also believe media plays a huge role in the creation of society’s perception as well. The research looks into advertisements over time and how they reinforced allocation of certain gender roles. The following diagram represents the theoretical analysis of this research. VI. Research Problem Media is playing a big role is constructing and reinforcing separate gender identity and advocates people to conform to those identities. This results in gender segregation and hampers achieving gender equality. Media False need and consciousness Shapes the knowledge and understanding of individuals about gender identity Stereotypes the role of men and women in society and segregates gender role
  12. 12. Page11 VII. Research Objective This study seeks to point out how media keeps reinforcing old school gender identity (how a male/female should be based on sex) which might not be evident to untrained eyes and impacts the society in a broader scale. It is often suggested that media has potentially profound effects on the social identity formation of people. However, understanding how media outlets affect the identity takes understanding what "identity" entails. So what is identity? For starters, we technically are not born with identity; it is a socially constructed attribute. The self-concept, which is the knowledge of who we are, combines with self awareness to develop a cognitive representation of the self, called identity (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2010, p.118). In other words, who we are is controlled by internal and external factors that combine to make us who we become. Add in new media outlets, such as the internet, and media is now considered an "extension of everyday life and a tool of cultural change" (Singh, 2010). Thus, identity formation, as a social concept, is being transformed in new and even more global ways. In our study we focused mainly on Gender role and Gender Identity. Gender = masculine and feminine It implies the gender of a person as a set of social roles and cultural norms and expectations related to femininity and masculinity. ‘man’ = male sex+ masculine social role (a ‘real man’, ‘masculine’ or ‘manly’) ‘woman’ = female sex + feminine social role (a ‘real woman’, ‘feminine’ or ‘womanly’) We are born as a male or female but we learn to become a man or a woman and our study is about how profound a role media plays in that! This would be an exploratory research that would look into advertisements throughout the ages of different products and how products are positioned, which reinforces traditional male and female traits and have a long term impact on gender role segregation.
  13. 13. Page12 VIII. Research Questions 1. How mainstream media constructs and reinforces old-school gender identity? How to be masculine? How to be feminine? 2. How words and images from the media have a long term impact on gender role segregation? IX. Scope and Limitation of the study The research has been carried out within the span of four months. The lack of time as well as logistics has constrained the research to some extent. However, secondary data belonging to a global consumerist behavior has provided the scope to assess the behavioral patterns and relate them within the context of Bangladeshi society. Historical and empirical research works have given authors of this research the idea of how gender has been at the forefront of issues that surface almost regularly. Time constraints in the research have limited the scope of the study. As a result the study has focused only on select segment of the mainstream print media and popular social media to identify a pattern of the commercials and how they influenced gender roles to stereotypes. X. Methodology This research has sought both primary and secondary data and tried to analyse the social perception as reflected in print media commercials. Additionally, the research has also take into consideration the viral contents on social media and how it sets an impression about gender stereotypes as well as gender norms and practices prevalent in the society. The selection of the commercials and viral posts has largely inclined on the varied kinds of advertisements, irrespective of the products and timeline.
  14. 14. Page13 The research also carried out a simple random sampling from the Bangladeshi society of a very small group of people to pick their minds on how they would react if they woke up the next day in the body of their opposite sex. The idea was to draw their views about how the opposite sex should behave in terms of dealing with household, physical attributes, work and social life. The analysis in this study has been based on qualitative research of data and interviews to understand the societal behaviours, norms and patterns. Careful attention has been put into content analysis so the study reflects a qualitative assessment of the contents of print commercials and viral contents. In context to the problem statement that “media is playing a big role in the constructing and reinforcing separate gender identity”, print media commercials and viral contents on social media are independent variables, which influence the attitude of the society towards gender identity. Hence, society and gender identity are dependent variables, which are largely influenced by the gender construction in the media. XI. Methods of Gathering Data In reflecting the study, the research has undertaken face validity and formative validity as means to measure the validity of the research. The ‘formative validity’ has explained how print media advertisements have, through passage of time, continued to segregate gender roles. The face validity has considered the physical and primary interviews taken to observe the perception in the society about gender roles. The date collected from primary and secondary sources helped to understand the generation difference of media to represent gender roles and identity. We have analyzed the print advertisements overtime and examined the generational difference in media. The following section shows the analysis of primary data collection:
  15. 15. Page14 XII. Representations of Genders in American Society Post World War II Betty Friedan, American feminist and writer, analysed American women's journals (such as Ladies Home Journal, McCall’s, Good Housekeeping and Woman's Home Companion) in her book The Feminine Mystique published in1963. She discussed the role of women in the American society of the post- World War II. At the beginning she noticed that in 1939, media spread the idea of a modern woman, happy and willing to get the right to build her own life. In those stories, heroines are women with a professional life, who are determined and independent. After the Second World War, media broadcast a new propaganda that a housewife’s lifestyle is the only proper way for women to reach happiness. Femininity is associated with the concepts of maternity and housekeeping. Betty Friedan also underlines the overlap of media representations with social relations between sexes. It produces the paradigm of masculinity’s superiority over women Betty Friedan also underlines the overlap of media representations with social relations between sexes. It produces the paradigm of masculinity’s superiority over women. Let’s take a look at some vintage advertisements and see if we can relate to them to our society, attitude and gender identity today.
  16. 16. Page15 XII.I. Media Enhancing Binary opposite Characters Male : Female = Better : worse; superior : inferior The is an advertisement for slacks. Where the text says, “though she is a tiger lady our hero didn’t have to fire a shot to floor her. After one look at his Mr Leggs slacks she was ready for him to walk all over her.” The idea reinforces women’s inferior position at home. Male : Female = superior : inferior Again! An advertisement of men’s shoes promoting the ‘place’ of women. The image without the taglines for shock value. These sort of images without the taglines leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
  17. 17. Page16 The images not just show the place of women but also the not so subtle role of women at home. Gender role of being at home and looking after the home is her main duty and can be punished for mistakes as well. Male : Female = Better : worse; superior : inferior Gender role of women = Homemaker Male : Female = Rational : Irrational A advertisement of Postage Meter highlights the irrationality of women. Even dehumanizing her by questioning “Is it illegal to kill a woman?”.
  18. 18. Page17 XII.II. Media Enhancing Gender/Sexual Division of Labor Gender/ Sexual Division of Labor refers to the allocation of different roles, responsibilities and tasks to women and men based on societal ideals of what men and women should do and are capable of doing. Different tasks and responsibilities are assigned to girls and boys, women and men according to their sex-gender roles, and not necessarily according to their preference or capabilities. An advertisement for vitamin approaches ladies to keep up their strength so they can work harder at home. Again promoting it’s a woman’s job to take care of the home. 1. Women = Homemaker 2. Good homemaker = Good Women To be a good, attractive woman she needs to be a skilled homemaker. And the vitamins can help her! Another advertisement of beer though targeted towards man and profusely thanking the woman for not burning the beer. The ad is set on a backdrop of a kitchen where again it promotes women’s role of sole caretaker of the house.
  19. 19. Page18 XIII. Representations of Genders in Modern Media We have been looking at vintage advertisements so far. What we want to see if there has been any changes on the advertisement front in the creation of separate gender identity. XIII.I. Children and Teenagers in Advertisements More and more commercials are directed to children. They indicate “the proper place” in the society for girls and boys. Girls are shown as babysitters nursing dolls or cleaning house with a pink cleaning kit, whereas boys do sports or play computer games. Now the separate gender roles are even more displayed may be not as clearly to an untrained eye, but to a trained eye it’s blatant. The boys run barefoot and play outside while the girl dresses up inside. The boys have sand in their pockets as a result of their play. The girl is told, "It's never too
  20. 20. Page19 soon to learn how to accessorize." By school age, children are clearly shown in male and female roles. Even though many parents argue that male and female behaviors simply emerge as their children grow up, influences such as the ideas depicted in the ads are also present. In these instances, the ideas are communicated to parents, not to the children themselves. Reinforcement like this reminds parents of gender-appropriate behavior for their children. What would happen to little boys who wanted "to accessorize"? Would they be allowed to do it? Alternatively, might more freedom be allowed to girls who wanted to romp in the sand? Advertising imagery of the teenage years continues and extends the differences between males and females. Boys remain hyper-active and live in a world of sports. The pose of the young man suggests that he is being celebrated by his buddies—perhaps because he has just excelled in athletics or achieved something that has gained him their approval. Being tossed in the air and carried on the shoulders of others is an ancient way of celebrating the victor in a contest. By contrast, girls are typically pictured as less active and more concerned with their physical appearance and beauty. The ad with the young girl focus on her hair style.
  21. 21. Page20 XIII.II. Women and Their Gender Role In Advertisements According to Steve Craig’s research (1997), women can be presented in commercials in several variants. The first one is the most popular: a housewife obsessed by a steam on a new tablecloth or a woman whose main problem is lack of ideas for dinner. The other examples are less traditional, however, they are still very stereotypical. One can distinguish commercials with female vamps – sexy seductresses, the objects of desire of every man. They mostly advertise cosmetics, but they also appear in the commercials directed to men. When a beautiful woman accepts and praises the male cosmetics, it is treated by men as a guarantee of its quality. Another type is a woman, whose major concern is to preserve her beauty. Hence, she presents a healthy life style, is physically active, uses a wide range of body and facial cosmetics. However, one can observe mainly the presence of very thin actresses in this type of commercials, which can lead to the assumption, that only thin women can be beautiful and healthy. As a result, many female receivers fall into the obsession with their weight, which sometimes can have negative effects. The sexuality of mature women is a central focus. Ads like the one in exaggerate sexuality by the wide- spread posture that the woman assumes. She sits, of course, in a model's pose to display the clothing, shoes, and bag in an eye-catching and provocative manner. Ads must break through the clutter of the competition and draw the reader's attention. The somewhat unusual pose here may serve that purpose, but it also serves to reinforce the idea that women are and must be sexual creatures in order to attract attention—whether it is that of other women or of men.
  22. 22. Page21 The products here are named "Bed Head" and "Hard to Get." These names reflect her highly-charged sexuality, as do her clothing, her posture, and her direct gaze into the lens. If the woman in the Michael Kors image suggests a pre-encounter, "come on" moment, this woman is further along in a sexual encounter with the viewer. Another common pose for women is smiling at the camera as shown the above ads. These smiles are exaggerated and much wider than is common for men, suggesting that different emotional states are appropriate as feminine or masculine expressions. The ad of Dove's "Real Women" campaign which explains why the woman in the ad is heavier than most other women in advertisements. Like the other ads which seeks to expand notions about appropriate careers for women, the effort here is to expand notions about what a woman's body should look like. But how effective that turning out to be is questionable.
  23. 23. Page22 Women do sometimes appear in athletic poses but these poses often carry a fashion statement along with the movement they depict. The woman in the first image flying through the air, but she is also wearing make-up, earrings, and is twirled in ribbons. The woman insecond image also appears in a moving pose, but fashion appears more important than athleticism—she doesn't even take her hand from her pocket. Athlete Maria Sharapova in the third figure is poised for a power shot, but the game she plays is a gentler one than the masculine games of football and other contact sports. Much more common than these depictions of women in sporting contexts is the depiction of women in maternal roles. In the above ad a woman—it is almost impossible not to consider her the child's mother—reassuringly hugs the child. The ad suggests an analogy: as a mother holds, reassures, and cares for a child, Lufthansa does these things for its passengers. Whether or not this is successful as a communication to airline passengers about the way the airline treats its passengers, the maternal role of women is nonetheless on display.
  24. 24. Page23 The ad tries signify a mother's warmth, care, love, devotion, and protection. The contrast between this idealization of a woman's role and that presented in some previous ads where women is portrayed as sexual being and nothing else reflects the conflicting expectations placed on women. Gender theorists have noted that culture defines contradictory roles for women—asking them on the one hand to be sexually attractive and yet maternal. The above ads depict women in their maternal roles as nurturers and housekeepers.
  25. 25. Page24 XIII.III.Men and Their Gender Role in Advertisements Now let’s take a look at how the men and masculinity features in the advertisements. Male stereotypes are also various. The first, - “a real man”, he is athletic, successful, professional, seducer with a beautiful woman by his side. He also has a branded car and a smartphone. The other type is less popular and presents men devoted to their families who can save enough time for them. Men are very rarely presented during housecleaning. And if they are, it is rather a satirical image – e.g. in the Mr. Muscle commercial – or they appear as the experts and they advise women, for instance, how to do laundry properly. Psychologists Megan Vokey, Bruce Tefft and Chris Tysiaczny at the University of Manitoba analyzed advertisements in men's magazines to see what messages they were sending about what it means to be a man. They found that a significant number of the advertisements portrayed or promoted one or more of the following beliefs:  Danger is exciting.  Toughness is a form of emotional self-control.  Violence is manly.  It's fine to be callous about women and sex. Compare the poses and facial expressions of the men in the following three ads with those of women from the above ads. None of the men are smiling, and each is intensely serious in his demeanor. Stoicism and carefully considered emotional reactions are hallmarks of adult masculinity in the world of advertising.
  26. 26. Page25 Male physicality as the source of male power during adolescence and early manhood is illustrated always. These men have excelled in their physical development and power to the point that their semi- nude bodies stand as models of emulation for others. The Bowflex ad offers the training equipment that can help others achieve physical excellence and prowess. The surfer has already achieved this. The ad speaks of him as powerful and cool. Men's power at this stage of their lives is derived from their physical nature. Well developed musculature and "killer" bodies signify the height of masculinity for young adult men.
  27. 27. Page26 Another way men are depicted is focusing much less on their physicality and more on their success in life. Often this success is depicted as financial. Ads show them well-dressed with the accoutrements of success—drinking expensive liquor, visiting foreign locations, and making financial plans. Maleness and power continue to be strongly associated. It is the source and demonstration of this power that shift from physical to financial. When men are depicted in paternal roles, they often appear as adult playmates, usually in sports or other outdoor contexts. The father in following first image carries his daughter on his shoulders while strolling on the beach. The father in the second image is taking his son fishing. Rather than depicting regular child rearing role fathers’ role are more of an occasional one.
  28. 28. Page27 Outside these roles as adult playmates, coaches, and buddies, men do not stand up well to the successes of women as mothers. For example, the father in the first figure appears to be helping his son with homework, but neither is smiling or giving any signs of successful mentoring. Increasingly with great glee, we did see a few examples of fathers in nurturing roles that parallel the maternal roles of women. The closeness of the father and child in the following image is more often a characteristic of mother-child relations. May be there is still hope?
  29. 29. Page28 XIII.IV. Women and Men Together in Advertisement When men and women appear in the same advertisements, the relationship almost always focuses on masculine dominance and female submissiveness. In addition, most images of both men and women focus on sexual relationships. Women are portrayed as following, submissive, available, and desirable while the men pursue them in various ways, sometimes to the point of an overt sexual encounter. Women are more often presented in commercials, because they are seen as responsible for making everyday purchases. Men generally advertise cars, cigarettes, business products or investments, whereas women are shown rather in the commercials with cosmetics and domestic products. They are also more likely portrayed in the home environment, unlike men, who are shown outdoors. Another important distinction is the face-ism phenomenon in the commercials, which consists in showing the entire figure in case of women and close-up shots in case of men. The first method lowers the receiver’s estimation of the intelligence of the person on the photo. The second one more often evokes positive associations. The image shows a young man leading a young woman. They are outdoors and having fun. It seems to be a casual morning or afternoon. The woman wears white pants, perhaps signifying her purity. Viewers must complete this narrative. Where do they go? What do they do next? Will this end in a sexual encounter, or not? In answering these questions, viewers collaborate in the meaning of the ad.
  30. 30. Page29Where male attitudes are concerned, a new study implicates magazine advertisements specifically aimed at men as helping to reinforce a certain set of views on masculinity termed “hyper- masculinity.” Hyper-masculinity is an extreme form of masculine gender ideology comprised of four main components: toughness, violence, dangerousness and calloused attitudes toward women and sex. This form hyper-masculine advertisements are aimed at younger, less-affluent and less- educated men. This is not hurting men but the relationship of men and women at the same time.
  31. 31. Page30 XIV. Advertisements & Gender: Past Researches & Way Forward XIV.I. Consequences? Does advertisement reflect society? Always? Or the ideas shown in media sips into society as well? Stereotypes shown in advertisements influence the way we perceive femininity and masculinity. On the one hand, media depict a young girl, tender and sexy, helping her mum in the kitchen; on the other hand, a cute boy playing in the garden with his dad. Those references are internalized and valued by teenagers during the construction of their sexual identity. As Malgorzata Wolska wrote in her article “Gender stereotypes in mass media” in 2011, the media creates messages that create opinion. And since “What does not exist in the media does not exist in the public mind” according to Castells Manuel, stereotypes used by media become real through people’s construction of reality. Because we see, hear and watch stereotypes on genders, we know them and unconsciously reproduce them in real life. XIV.II. Controversy: Media doesn’t play a role in gender identity formation! Bruno Perreau, professor at the MIT and researcher at Cambridge and Harvard Universities doesn't share the same opinion. He thinks that media cannot influence gender. Indeed, the gender theory does make sense only for people who think that sex and sexuality can be determined by speech. He assumes that talking about homosexuality does not make anyone becoming a homosexual. Therefore, the concept of gender should be taught at school because media does not influence our sexual identity.
  32. 32. Page31 XIV.III. Feminists against Media Representations of Genders In the 1960s and 1970s, feminists such as Clare Short, Gaye Tuchman, and Angela McRobbie denounced unfair representations of gender in media and especially in magazines. Germaine Greer wrote that women were perceived as mere consumers benefiting from the purchasing power of their husband. Women become targets for marketing, she said, and their image is used in advertising to sell products. In 1978 Gaye Tuchman wrote of the concept of symbolic annihilation. She blamed media for imposing a negative vision of active women and making an apologia for housewives. She feared that stereotypes would discourage young women from professional ambitions, which are essential for the American economy. From media representations, feminists paved the way for debates and discussions about gender within the social and political spheres. In 1980, the British deputy Clare Short, proposed a bill to banish shirtless women from tabloid newspapers. XIV.IV. Breaking gender stereotypes In spite of significant presence of the stereotypes in commercials, advertising specialists more and more often use non-schematic ideas of the promotion of products and services. Women are presented as liberated, strong and independent of social expectations and men are shown while washing or cleaning. The most popular, non-stereotypical commercial is Dove campaign aimed at women at every age and with different kinds of figures. It emphasizes natural beauty instead of perfect shapes. The female viewers prefer to watch women, with whom they can identify, thus the campaign proved to be a great success. Male roles in advertising are redefined as well – British commercial of a cleanser called Ajax presents handsome men cleaning kitchen with this product; in the other example a man is striping for his girlfriend and then throws his clothes in the washing machine called Ariston. This situation is opposite to the traditional scheme, in which a girl is a seductress and a man is a viewer.
  33. 33. Page32 XV. Gender Perception Analysis from Men And Women When conducting a qualitative research, it is difficult not to be biased while gathering and analyzing data. After conducting the related researches we interviewed a few men and women, we asked our respondents the following question: Suppose tomorrow you wake up as a women (in case of men)/ a men (in case of women) what are the changes you would do in terms of your household, physical attributes, social life and work. What we wanted to find out from these questions was how women and men see the other sex in terms of being the other sex. Do women see being a men as an advantage? Do men see being a women as an advantage? Or do they think being the other gender is a disadvantage? Male feedback overall: From the primary interview of men and women, we can infer that for men it is often difficult to consume the idea of waking up as women. Hence, being women for men is not desirable unless they wake up as a women celebrity. Female feedback overall: On the other hand, the female respondents wished to stay as a man for as long as they can. Some of them proposed to go out of the house more often and travel with friends. It is mostly desirable for women to wake up as a man. Sarah Habib (Female) Household stuff is pretty much what I would do anyways regardless to my gender. it’s a given. I don’t' spend too much time on grooming myself physically, never go to parlours and stuff, but I do enough for maintaining an acceptable standard. That’s kind of important for both genders. Social life and work? Nothing changes really. Same thing Syed Tashfin Chowdhury (Male) I would go back to sleep hoping that the process will be reversed and I will go back to normal. If it still does not then these are the things I will do: Household - I will try to delegate most of the household chores and tasks to other members so that I do not get
  34. 34. Page33 stressed out. Physical attributes - I will take less time thinking about getting pimples, hair fall and think more about actual health issues like heartburns, getting fat etc. Work - I will keep my work where it is and not bring it home. I would have work in my household as it is. No reason to accumulate the burden. Social life- I will go out to meet my best friend, who according to the equation would have turned female as well. The two of us would then go to a beauty parlour to finally find out what women do there that takes so long! Maisha Sultana (Female) I would walk around topless to see how that feels like. I don’t have to worry about household chores, as guys don’t do anything at home. I think I would like to have Bradley Cooper or Hritik Roushan’s body (as this is a wishing game why not have it all). It's a miracle that I can't think of a single thing which I can't do being a girl and would have done if I were a guy right now, usually I get frustrated at so many things I can’t do being a girl. Sharfuddin Tanmoy (Male) I would wake up before anyone in the morning, give instructions to the maid about breakfast and then call everyone to breakfast and have it together. I would list the groceries and give it to someone to get it. Afterwards I would get ready for office. If there’s a dress code, I won’t have much choice, else, I would pick my preferred outfit. Once at office, I would finish my targets for the day at work. I would still check on my family members from work. I would check on my husband so he picks me up from work and then would spend evening with him somewhere outside till 7 in the evening. I might even invite some of my close friends to join in. Once at home, I would make dinner and have it together. After that I watch a movie or get to my favorite serial. As the night gets deep, I would fall asleep sharing stories of the day with my husband because I’d be following the same routine the next day. In our society we have set standards how one perceives men and woman. From the responses we found out being a women is not always desirable whereas being a men is a good thing. Gender differences and separate gender roles are very prominent from the responses. We wanted to point out the part media advertisements play in this segregation of the genders. That in turn creates our cognitive mind to categorize the roles of men and women separately.
  35. 35. Page34 XVI. Conclusion Advertisements are the powerful tool used for creating and shaping people’s opinions. Their structure is simplified in order to be understood by mass receivers. Print advertisements captures one moment of time and, through that, shares a story. Therefore stereotypes are very often used in the commercials as one of the most popular techniques of persuasion. However, they describe specific groups or ideas in relation to the whole regardless of individual differences. The main aim of mass media is to be universal and suitable for everyone, in order to gather the largest possible audience. Thus, responsible for providing the central social discourse, is supposed to be “a mirror of the society”. However, through one image what are the ads portraying and how are they explaining the reality? For instance, the way in which male and female roles are presented in advertisements reflects the traditional notions of gender, where women are dominated by men. Although people are aware of the dangers posed by generalization, they tend to be conformists and would rather submit to the dominant patterns than oppose them and risk a negative reception of such behavior from the others. There is a hope to change the current situation, though. According to Debra Pryor and Nancy Nelson Knupfer (1997), “If we become aware of the stereotypes and teach critical viewing skills to our children, perhaps we will become informed viewers instead of manipulated consumers”. Moreover, media evolve along with the development of a society and are the answer to many social and political changes, such as emancipation of women, growing role of individualism, globalization and revaluation of patterns and social roles. More and more advertising specialists produce non-stereotypical commercials. However, the attempts to break down the stereotypes threaten to reject the message; they affect security and well-established knowledge about the world. Hence, a society has to achieve an adequate level of social readiness, so that messages breaking gender stereotypes could be effective.
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