and Gender stereotypes
To explore gender stereotypes
To understand how these stereotypes
are used within media
What is gender?
"Sex" refers to the biological and physiological
characteristics that define men and women.
"Gender" refers to the socially constructed roles,
behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given
society considers appropriate for men and women.
...and transgender should be part of this too.
Think about the way girls are
often dressed in pink and bought
“domesticating” toys like dolls and
play ovens and toy vacuum cleaners,
whereas boys are usually dressed in
blues and non-pastel colours and
given toys like guns and construction
sets and cars, developing skills that
are outside the domestic sphere.
• Consider birthday cards and girls/boys magazines.
• What do these say about what it means to be a
boy/girl? What do boys like and what do girls like?
• Do you think this changes in men’s/women’s magazines?
• Spend 5 minutes discussing the contents of ‘men’s magazines’
and ‘women’s magazines’.
• What types of articles do they feature?
• What does this suggest is important about men/women?
• What do you think about this?
Masculinity and femininity
Gender and representation of gender is tied up
with ideas of masculinity and femininity...
Are the following ideas about the representation
of men and women reinforced by what you
found in the magazines?
Representation of Men
'Masculinity' is a concept that is made up of more
rigid stereotypes than femininity. Representations
of men across all media tend to focus on the
• Strength - physical and intellectual
• Sexual attractiveness (which may be based on
• Independence (of thought, action, finances)
Representation of Men
• Male characters are often represented as isolated, as
not needing to rely on others (the lone hero). If they
submit to being part of a family, it is often part of the
resolution of a narrative, rather than an integral factor
in the initial balance.
• It is interesting to note that the male physique is
becoming more important a part of representations of
Representation of Women
Representations of women across all media tend to
highlight the following:
• beauty (within narrow conventions)
• size/physique (again, within narrow conventions)
• sexuality (as expressed by the above)
• emotional (as opposed to intellectual) dealings
• relationships (as opposed to independence/
• Over time, the two genders have developed
quite distinct and often oppositional gender
codes – activities, spheres of activity and
qualities that are deemed to be exclusive to
only one group.
• TASK: In groups draw up a list divided into two
columns and label one side MASCULINE and
the other FEMININE and see what traditional
associations you make with each gender
under the headings on the next slides.
• Leisure Activities
• Responsibilities in the Home
• Drinks on a Night Out
• A Typical Night Out
• Favourite Genre of Films
• Typical Character Qualities
• What do you notice about these different
ideas associated traditionally with each
gender? What image do they conjure up of
• Traditionally men have held
power in our society – this
system where men have
power and control in society
is called patriarchy.
• Patriarchy = society run
by men for men
• The result of this is that
traditionally male qualities
and attributes have generally
been seen to be superior to
female attributes. Consider,
for example, the fact that
traditionally it was the eldest
son who inherited – even if
he had several older sisters!
• This was often reflected in the media, as most
media companies were run by men!
• Masculinity was often represented in ways
that were shown to be superior to feminine
qualities. Men were often shown to be more
important and powerful than women.
• Women were often shown in roles that suited
men and which kept them from challenging
men for power.
• In other words, the media showed men and
women how men wanted them to be!
List some typical action films – think
about the typical roles assigned to
men and women? How do these link
to patriarchal ideas about gender?
• Two of the most common traditional roles
women were represented in under patriarchy
were the happy housewife and the sex
object/Glamorous Ideal. Can you think how
these stereotypes suited patriarchy?
More Modern Ideologies about
From the 1960s onwards,
patriarchy, seeking to gain
equality for women. They
gained increased respect,
legislation for women,
giving them the chance to
step into what had once
been men’s shoes...
• Suddenly gender roles were less rigid and
defined and this is often reflected in newer
• .TASK: Again, we will look at two short extracts
to see how men and women are being
• 1 – Million Dollar Baby extract
• 2 - Aero Melt ad
Suddenly it wasn’t unusual for women
• Have a serious career
• Wear trousers
• Smoke, drink and swear
• Play football
• Downplay the domestic goddess role
Roles that had previously been
traditionally allocated to men.