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The sociology of mass media: Representations of gender on the media

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The sociology of mass media: Representations of gender on the media

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The sociology of mass media: Representations of gender on the media

  1. 1. The Sociology of Mass Media Representations of Gender in the Media
  2. 2. Introduction - Throughout the 20th century, and to a great extent still today, representations of gender in the media reflected (and caused) the hegemonic reality… patriarchy
  3. 3. Whilst the family is generally . seen as primary gendersocialization agent, media plays a teaching and reinforcing these cultural key role in expectations
  4. 4. ACTIVITY: can you think.of some characteristics of this patriarchy and how it might be represented in the mass media?
  5. 5. . Men as central to the world of employment; responsible and breadwinners household heads; these are all reflected in movies, soap operas, advertising etc.
  6. 6. . Masculinity as…. independent and individualistic Good men should be more strongand truly independent than most women minded
  7. 7. . Competitive Good men should never be happy with second best
  8. 8. . Brave Good men should have a far higher threshold than most women fear-
  9. 9. . Ambitious go far in life; and increasingly, good men should be a “high-achiever” in Good men should want to numerous areas e.g. sport, employment, sex life than most women
  10. 10. . Aggressive never back down A good man should from a physical or emotional challenge, and should be much more eager to risk his safety or reputation than most women
  11. 11. . Dependable Unlike most women, good men can be relied upon during the most difficult of circumstances. Women need men
  12. 12. . Without openly-displayed emotion
  13. 13. . Femininity as … Domesticated A woman’s place is in the home Cooking and cleaning in the home is the responsibility of the female members of the household
  14. 14. . Maternal, caring and emotionally supportive A good woman should be willing and able to care for all loved ones, in every way
  15. 15. . Normal women place a higher value on personal relationships, gossip and the latest fashions than most men
  16. 16. . Subordinate and inferior As with all the characteristics mentioned, there are always many exceptions; but women are most often portrayed as being of slightly less intrinsic worth than men in most times, spaces and situations
  17. 17. Emotional Most women are more emotional than menand lack the ability to control themselves
  18. 18. Representations of femininity Symbolic annihilation (this is the term of Tuchman et al, 1978) - Women’s achievements under-reported, condemned, trivialized - Women more likely to be presented in a sexualised or infantile manner
  19. 19. Tunstall (2000) - . More than 50% of British women are in paid employment; and we’re seeing continuing progress in the proportion of leadership positions filled by women - yet role as this is under-rep’d in the media; instead, women’s mothers, housewives and consumers is over-rep’d - Only around half of all sexual activity involves a woman, yet women are far more likely to be portrayed in a sexualised way
  20. 20. . The ‘Just the Women’ report ,2012 - Study of rep’n of women, and violence against women, in British newspapers - Part of the Leveson Inquiry (2012), more widely known for its investigation of unethical journalistic activities e.g. phone-hacking - For two weeks, 11 national newspapers were subject to a content analysis: 1,300 reports contained “sexism” ACTIVITY: What were some other the findings of Just the Women?
  21. 21. . The ‘Seen but not Heard’ report, 2012 - Random sample of front pages of 18 national newspapers - 78% of people mentioned in headlines were male - 84% of people mentioned in the stories were male - Very few stories about female expertise or professionalism; instead, most of the “experts” (e.g. scientists, psychologists, economists) were male
  22. 22. Cochrane (2011): content analysis of BBC productions . - 72% of BBC’s Question Time panelists were male - 92% of guests on BBC’s Mock the Week were male - 84% of reporters and guests on BBC radio’s Today programme were male
  23. 23. - Males even dominate . children’s TV; the Bristol Fawcett Society (2008) found that only 30% of characters on BBC’s CBeebies were male, ALL narrators were male, and most presenters were male ACTIVITY: The Bristol Fawcett Society specialises in studies using content analysis; can you recall any specific CA studies?
  24. 24. .routinely • Computer games under-represent women numerically, and in the way they are • Women’s portrayed sexualisation and marginalisation is, according to Ivory (2006), most extreme in this media format
  25. 25. Magazines and femininity Magazines are a particularly interesting format as they are even more likely than TV shows and movies to be aimed at one particular sex e.g. “women’s magazines”, “Lads’ mags” Sociologists have long argued that both men’s and rigid ideals of masculinity femininity; playing a key role in women’s magazines promote very and the reproduction of patriarchy
  26. 26. The Cult of Femininity? This term is that of Ferguson (1983) • Ferguson (1983) : content anal. of women’s magazines (e.g. ‘Good Housekeeping’ and ‘Women’s weekly’) from between 1949 and 1980 cult • A“ of femininity” prevailed; high value on women attaining excellence through care, family, marriage and physical appearance
  27. 27. . Ferguson also looked at current magazines and found some change; but often this was superficial and not equality a sign of genuine “him, home and looking good (for him)” focus still on
  28. 28. . • The Bristol Fawcett Society (2008) analyzed front covers of magazines (that featured people), finding the same prevailing ideals and images

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