Gender in social institutions: Media

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Gender in social institutions: Media

  1. 1. MediaAlexis Albert
  2. 2. “…media compose a complex set of production and consumptionpractices.”“…the distinction between mass culture and high culture [is] itself a culturalproduction.”“…all media communicate understandings of gender, and genderinfluences all forms of mediated communication.”“…popular culture mirrors industrial factory processes, creatingstandardized goods for consumption.” **#culture industries 235(**Definition: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It wascreated organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.) Twitter.com
  3. 3.  Gender is marketed as aproduct from birth. Mediapromotes gender as somethingto be sold. Gender differencesare highlighted in order to sell‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’.
  4. 4. “Media products are ephemeral.”  aka “You’re either in or you’re out.” (Project Runway)She’s in Are they? “…contradiction is one of the characteristics of institutions.” [Media holds]“…absolute control over gender identities.” 236
  5. 5. “…people’s reluctance to consider media an institution isbecause of its relative youth.”“…media corporations sell audiences as commodities toadvertisers.” (Budd et al., 1990, p. 172) #media economics“…understanding media is one way to understand how power,an element of media as an institution, manifests itself.” 237-8 Media are the basis of the social construction of gender: existing, past, and future. Media are influential over all areas of one’s identity; it is not limited to gender.
  6. 6. “Media exert howpeople do gender.”What ismasculine?“…they provide modelsof what it is to befeminine or masculine.” 237-8
  7. 7. “…shape the cognitive structures through which people perceiveand evaluate social reality.” #hegemony“…maintain hegemonic understandings of gender even as theycreate gaps and fissures in representations of gender;…the vastmajority of characters tend to abide by traditional gender/sexexpectations.”“…still meet feminine/masculine standards of attractiveness.” …plays on hegemonic ideals. 239 …creates standardized norms.
  8. 8. [Media can] “…create false consciousness, making people believe theyexert control over what they view,” while simultaneously they can,“actively and creatively engage with [people].”“…people can resist media influence.” #critical media consumers“…the range and richness of the possible meanings depend on theability of audiences to produce them.” #polysemous vs. polyvalence 240Audiences do not all read into media in the same manner. Eachindividual can interpret media messages differently.
  9. 9. “It is easy to ‘acquire the codes necessary for preferred readings’;however, ‘the acquisition of codes for negotiated or oppositionalreadings is more difficult and less common’ (Dow, 1996, p.13), andtransforming those readings into political action is the most difficultand least common of all. Because the acquisition of such codesrequires work, on consequence is, ‘the tendency of such burdens tosilence viewers’ (Condit, 1989, p.109).”Many people fall intogender norms because 240-1it is “easy”. To breakfree from those normsrequires a critical view,and often createshardship for theindividual whochooses to do so.
  10. 10. “Media interact with the institution of gender as they providemechanisms through which representations of work, family, educationand religion are communicated.” #interlocking institutions“…media messages of gender both constrain and enable, modeling forpeople’s often-unobtainable ideals of attractiveness, while alsoexpanding people’s limited understandings of their locations in theworld. Perceptions of masculinity and femininity change across time, andrecords of those changes are found in media representations that bothpush and resist those changes.” 241-2
  11. 11. “…mediated images of beauty submerge racial and ethnicdifferences between bodies such that all women are held to asingle standard attainable not only by very few women butperhaps not by anyone, considering the degree of airbrushingused in magazine images (Bordo, 1997).”“…the charge that advertising presents women as sex objects isnot a universal phenomenon.” #oversexed America 242  Hegemony promotes beauty ideals. Michelle Obama’s “white” hairstyles provide an example of her abiding by the cultural preference for non-ethnic beauty standards.
  12. 12. “Body image pressure does not come from people of another sex and themedia they peruse but from the media targeted at people of that sex.”“Media representations are one location where hegemonic masculinity isidentifiable particularly in relation to sports coverage.”Five characteristics of U.S. hegemonic masculinity (arguably, white):(1) It defines power in terms of physcial force and control.(2) It is defined through occupational achievement.(3) It is represented in terms of familial patriarchy, in which the man is the breadwinner.(4) It is symbolized by the frontiersman and the outdoorsman.(5) It is heterosexually defined. 242-3
  13. 13. “People want to participate in the socially sanctioned and idealized notions of masculinity and femininity. During Michael Jordan’s heyday as a professional athlete, men wanted to ‘be like Mike.’ Now, they want to be like Brad, Tiger, Jude and Sean.” Remember? Media is ephemeral 243Are these men still popular? Do other men aspire to be likethem? Do they appear masculine?
  14. 14. “Women and minorities are underrepresented in U.S. media; …thesituation is not any better globally.”“Women’s and minorities absence in media, and presentations of womenas sex objects, may create the perception that they are not agents ofaction, capable of commenting on and acting in the world.”“Quite simply, the medium of television constructs gender as it providesyoung people with ideas about what is normative and expected.”Women in media, 244-5when represented atall, are represented inopposition to men 
  15. 15. “…media are best understood through a study of theirrepresentations and hence tend to ignore the process ofproduction and the role of the audience.”“…they tend to treat the audience as passive an universal; theyassume that all audiences respond to images similarly and are notcapable of counterhegemonic readings of media images.” 245
  16. 16. “…[media] assume that one candistinguish between good and badrepresentations; they tend not torecognize that representations arecontradictory (e.g., an image can besexually liberating and sexuallyobjectifying at the same time).”“Media do influences people’s beliefsand behaviors.” 245Whereas some may find these imageshumorous, or even true, many otherswould find them offensive. Mediacreates these interpretations forindividuals. 
  17. 17. “…women are gendered and raced as deserving or undeserving victims; …men aregendered and raced as perpetrators or saviors.”“…media coverage tends to only offer a fragmented understanding.”“…the relationship between sexual violence and hegemonic masculinity… misdirect[s]attention.”There is a “lack of attention to intersectionality in most media studies.”“…’national discourse may transform women’s bodies into the symbolic battlefield ofvirtual conflicts (Stables, 2003, p.109)’. Media position women’s bodies as in need ofbeing saved and ‘American masculinity as chivalrous’ (p.103).”“…vivid depictions of rape potentially repeat, commodify, or eroticize the trauma.”Even in advertising, the positioning of women is usually 245-8weak, subservient to men, or helpless. Men are more oftenposed with strength and in dominant positions.
  18. 18. “…visual media gender the practice of watching, create a legitimatinggender ideology, influence gender identity, and structure audienceexpectations” #Ways of Seeing“…the way the body is positioned, whether in paintings or inadvertisements, employs a series of codes that audiences can read,even though they may not be conscious that they are decoding.”“…recent advertising images of men create gender tensions; ‘men arenot supposed to enjoy being surveyed period. It’s feminine to be ondisplay’ (Bordo, 1999, p.173).” #evolution in masculinity’s meaning“…most magazine readers gleefully engage in the willing suspension ofdisbelief, accepting pictures as perfect reflections of the models” 248-9
  19. 19. Many women compare themselvesto altered or re-touched images theysee depicted in media, though theseimages represent implausible oreven impossible bodies.
  20. 20. “…the way woman in to be looked at [in film]… reinforces the maleas active and the female as passive; the cinematic gaze is male.” “Mulvey’s theory is criticized because she identified a single, universal gaze.” “Not only can multiple gazes exist, but Brenda Cooper (2000) argues that one can find a rejection of the dominant male gaze even in mainstream Hollywood films.”(e.g. “…Thelma and Louise (1991) encourages viewers to identify notwith the males on screen but with the female figures who activelymocked and challenged patriarchal conventions… men tended to seethe film as an example of unjustified male bashing, and womentended to see it as commentary on women’s marginalized socialposition… male and female audiences readings were polyvalent.” 250-1
  21. 21. “…being able to read or watch against the grain requires being ableto identify the grain, and for that we have the writings of Berger andMulvey to thank.”“Recognition of ways in which audiences are gendered/sexed andraced contributes importantly to one’s understanding of thesexed/gendered and raced content of mediated communication.”#oppositional gaze“Media’s positioning of the audience is not determinative as long asaudiences are conscious of the media’s attempt to position them.”To overcome the gendered norms, we must first 251realize and accept that they exist.
  22. 22. bell hooks challenges individuals to “‘interrogate theirperspective’; otherwise, ‘they may simply recreate the imperialgaze- the look that seeks to dominate, subjugate, and colonize’”This stance “encourage[s] those with privilege to recognize thatprivilege; …one should ask to whom and for whom does thismedia representation speak?” 251-2
  23. 23. “People are ‘culture makers as well as culture consumers’.”“An institutional focus makes clear that even those choices considered the mostpersonal are influenced by larger social forces.”“Being critically conscious of the degree to which each person is enmeshed in culturealso encourages one to be conscious of the inevitable contradictions produced bymedia.”“…an oppositional gaze necessarily moves from social critique to political action.”“…an oppositional gaze is conscious of the way in which contemporary mediaengage in commodification- the selling of cultural, sexual, or gender difference in away that supports institutionalized discrimination.” 252-3
  24. 24. “…prejudice and institiutional racism arenot one and the same” (Yousman, 1992,p.387).”“…restrictive media forms can be usedfor liberatory purposes.”“Madonna provides a classic example.Madonna is best understood ‘as a site ofcontradiction,’ where her gender playsimultaneously challenges and reinforcesgender roles’ (Hallstein, 1996, p.123).”“Norms become unmarked.”^ Norms such as using the word Madonna has long since filled an‘nurse’, versus the term ‘male androgynous role, representative 253-4 of “gender-bending”.nurse’. This is against the norm, soit is clarified.
  25. 25. “…gender is constructed through media representations, and mediarepresentations of gender are always in flux.”“…the borders of gender are continually resecured by mediarepresentations in response to this change.”“…even progressive representations of gender can resecure traditionalunderstandings of gender.”“…new technologies tend to replicate old gender dynamics.” 254
  26. 26. “…masculinity is the subject matter because socialforces have destabilized masculinity.”“Previously, ‘men didn’t need lifestyle magazinesbecause it was obvious what a man was, and what aman should do…”“…women’s magazines are about the construction offemininity and contain locations for transgressive Men and women try to imitate beauty ideals from media to bereadings of gender.” “masculine” or “feminine”.“…a common, consistent message is presented: that awoman’s self-worth is influenced by her looks, clothes,and accessories.”“…girls learned to use the mass media to acquirethe skills of ideal femininity (Durham, 1999, p.212).” 255-6
  27. 27. “One should not lose sight of the fact that commercial media arejust that: commercial. They sell products to audiences andaudiences to producers.”“…contemporary media possess a much more complex view ofgender, this does not mean that the complexity is uniformlyaccepted and welcomed.”“…one can study masculinity not only by studying actual men butalso by studying discourse about masculinity in popular culture.” 257-8Media is hard to ignore. We often do not evenrealize the power it holds over us.
  28. 28. “…most dominant media images reinforce the gender binary ofheteronormativity.”“…even though the politics of media are regressive, most people takepleasure in going to movies, reading novels, perusing magazines, andsurfing the web. The danger is not that people do these things but thatthey often do them uncritically.”“…institutional-level change is require, and heightened consciousness ofmedia images of women and men, masculinity and femininity.” If we seek to overcome a gendered/sexed media, we must 260-1 know that media creates gender/sex in as much as gender/sex creates media. We must establish a critical POV to see through a non-gendered lens.

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