• Media itself is a plural term that is ubiquitous in contemporary U.S society.
television, movies, radio, newspaper, magazines, CDs, podcasts, prints, paintings
, comics, novels, the internet, etc.
Note: A distinction between art and media still persists.
“All media communicate understandings of gender, and gender influences all
forms of mediated communication.” 235
WHAT IS MEDIA?
• Media is approached as an
institution to distinguish the
fact that focusing on a single
medium would be inadequate.
• Share conventions concerning
the creation of contents and
construction of audience.
• “Media is one of the primary
mechanisms that reiterate
gender while also providing
locations in which resistance
can occur, in both construction
and reception.” 237
MEDIA AS A SOCIAL INSTITUTION
• Economic processes and
institutional patterns govern
• Maintain and increase
demand for consumption.
• “Ads that sell
are part of a system in which
media corporations sell
audiences as commodities to
• Since institutions are organized in
accord with power, which further
constrains and facilitates behavior in
accordance with members of society
in which the institution exists.
• Influence social norms concerning:
gender, race, nationality, class and
other constitutions of identity, by
providing models of what it is to be
feminine or masculine, and
encouraging people to buy products
what would make them represent the
MEDIA AND POWER
“Classy+Manly= Polo Black”
• “Media as an institution of civil society, shape the cognitive structures through
which people perceive and evaluate social reality.” 239
• Must be maintained, repeated, and respond to outside forces that oppose it.
• Hegemony presumes the possibility of resistance and opposition by both
maintaining and challenging expectations.
MEDIA AND HEGEMONY
“Media interact the institution of gender as they provide mechanisms through
which representations of work, family, education, and religion are
“As recourses, media messages of gender both constrain and enable modeling
for people often-unobtainable ideals of attractiveness while also expanding
people’s limits understandings of their location in the world.” 241
* Body pressure comes from the media targeting people of a certain sex.
*Women overestimate the level of thinness men are attracted to. (female body
marketed to women is thinner)
*Men over estimate the degree of muscularity attractive to women. (male body
marketed to men is more muscular)
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN
Body Image- factors in:
race, nationality, and sexual
Beauty Standards- not the same for all
Women as Sex Objects- not a universal
DIFFERENCES AMONG WOMEN
1)It defines power in terms of physical force and control.
2)Defined through occupational achievement.
3)It is represented in terms of familial patriarchy, in which the man is the
4)It is symbolized by the frontiersman and the outdoorsman.
5) It is heterosexually defined.
5 CHARACTERISTICS OF U.S
• Content/Effects- Quantify what is in mediated product.
“Because media has a particular content, a particular effect follows.” 244
• Violence- Women and minorities are under reprented-> creates the
perception that they are not agents of action, capable of commenting on
and acting in the world.
*exposure to violent media directly effects violent behavior and are one of
the ways gendered violence is normalized in the U.S.
• Media Depictions of Rape- insight into how women are gendered and
raced as deserving or undeserving victims.
*leaves open the possibility that different audiences will interact in different
ways to these media representations.
MEDIA CONSTRUCT AND CONSTRAIN
• The movie Precious reveals a women
who is not represented enough in
media. The film touches upon
factors that create an identity within
society such as:
race, gender, class, body
image, meeting westernized beauty
ideals, rape, violence, and
education, and shows how
constrained a person can be when
they fit outside the norm.
MEDIA CONSTRUCT AND CONSTRAIN
Men act and women appear- men look
at women; women watch themselves being
looked at-> men as the “ideal spectator”-
> “It’s feminine to be on display.”
The fiction of an act-free appearance
camera, audience, and male character look
at women reinforces the male as active and
female as passive.
Oppositional gaze- Audience members
can actively choose to reposition their
“Given the polyvalence of media products and that each audience member is
actively involved in the interpretation and reception of messages, even
seemingly restrictive media forms can be used for liberatory purposes.” 253.
1) Gender is constructed through media representations, and media
representations are always in flux.
2) The boarders of genders are continually re-secured by media
representations in response to this change.
3) even progressive representations of gender can re-secure traditional
understandings of gender.
4) New technologies tend to replicate old gender dynamics.
MEDIA IS ALWAYS LIBERATORY