Stereotypes in media
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Stereotypes In Media

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Stereotypes in media

Stereotypes In Media


Stereotypes in media

  • Images are present around us everywhere we go. Our mind consumes and registers these images without a consent. Whether we want to view these images or not our subconscious uses them to construct our social behavior. Not only do these mediated images penetrate our minds but they shape and re-create the world we live in and the way we view it. They create boundaries, public and private spheres and define the social ‘norm’ which we attempt to achieve.

  • Media plays a significant role in entertaining, informing, and instilling values to diverse audiences in society. The danger lies in stereotypes that are integrated into messages used to sell products, also known as propaganda. It is important to keep in mind that advertising is a vital component to any company’s survival, further the main goal for any corporation is to convince audiences that their product is superior then the competition. Marketing strategies are essential and they need to aim to a specific target market. One of the oldest and most popular techniques media uses is sex, because of its ability to sell any products or services effectively. As a result, women are depicted as sexual objects in all types of media, especially in television, the overall image of a woman is not only invalid but it also disrespects the essence of a women.


What are generalizations and stereotypes

What are Generalizations and Stereotypes?

  • Generalizations and stereotypes are a modern day ying and yang. One cannot exist without the other emerging. Containing fact or a sense of truth, generalizations are said to be theoretical. They offer a theory about certain objects, situations, and people in general. Even though “similarities between generalization and stereotype are apparent they still function in different ways”. (Grobman 1990) Stereotypes are a subset of generalization but seem to stand alone nonetheless. They are created when knowledge is lacking or unattainable and the substitution of thoughts and opinions are implemented. This often leads to misjudgment and unfair discrimination toward certain people and situations. Not only do stereotypes affect opinions and thoughts but they also affect behavior. They are found everywhere, and though portrayed innocently, they affect and impact the mindset of many. Society often perpetuates and creates stereotypes. One of the most influential medias of our time is constantly portraying sex-role stereotypes in its shows, movies and advertisements. The television portrays the unspoken norms of an ideology that has long been extinct. The content reflected on television, the placement of females in advertisements and shows is minimal in comparison to that of male roles. The television under represents females and “reflects the negative cultural stereotypes” (Blaine 2002) that society has subtly placed upon them. Stereotypes are commonly used in television because they are easily identifiable, thus creators of programs and scripts can refer to stock characters without having to delve into a complete characterization for the sake of explanation. By using stereotypes audiences can easily identify characters and focus more attention on the story line rather than character development.


Gender representation

Gender Representation

  • It is through these images that certain ideologies are created. The media propagates and promotes a constructed image of gender representation. The evident divide of differences between the genders which allowed for this stereotypes of inequality to emerge has been unable to prevail commercial television, and continues to struggle to break free. Comparative research studies conducted by Ganahl, Prinsen, and Netzley supplies evidence that “television commercials [continue to] perpetuate traditional stereotypes of women and men.” (Ganahl, 2003) Changes over the past two decades in feminist advancement have not been perceptible in modern day commercials. It is comprehensible that the intransigent stereotypes remain unchanged, because they contain a fraction of truth. “In general, 1990s television commercials tend to portray White men as powerful, white women as sex objects, African American men as aggressive, and African American women as inconsequential.” (Coltrane, 2000) Media remains extremely influential and these stereotypes can begin to change if the media projects them differently. Stereotypes remain to be a “an ending point.” No questions asked, the built in opinion is applied and not questioned. Whereas a generalization is a “starting point” where some apply and others not. (Galanti, 2005) It seems to be a difference that defines “open-mindedness” and “close-mindedness” of our culture. Beginning the process of shifting stereotypes into generalizations could be the end of this under representation


Stereotypes in media

  • Masculinity and femininity is defined and restricted by boundaries that are created by images found in the media. Hidden meanings are tied into what we see, and play on the stereotypes and ideas we have about our society.The images are prevalent and presented in a way so that they become the ‘norm’ of how society should be. To some extent they even create and re-create society.In the past women were being portrayed as the stereotypical housewife. Since the women's movement has change the role of the woman in society we see a difference in terms of representation. Yet this change has only resulted in the replacement for another role that the female takes, one in which women are presented as objects. They are portrayed as weak and inferior to the male. Toughness and masculinity are intertwined and female models that cross that boundary find that they are seen as performing toughness rather then actually have attained it. (Inness 124) Women are now being presented as something to be looked at instead of intelligent individuals that should be listened to. Advertisers use the exploitation of the female body in order to say, "if you buy our products you can be just as sexy and desirable as her." We are constantly comparing ourselves to images we see around us. We feel as if we have these expectations to live up to and it is very difficult to meet those standards, especially when those standards aren't even real.


Stereotypes in media

  • There have been many studies done on the impact of gender representation on females, especially young impressionable girls. Women see on average 400 to 600 advertisements a day. Studies have found that 50% of advertisements in girl’s magazines and 56% of television commercials use beauty as a product appeal (body image and advertising). Because of this constant bombardment of images depicting ideal and "perfect" women, we constantly compare ourselves and strive to be an ideal type. Many believe it is because of these images that cause many women to feel insecure and dissatisfied with their own bodies. Our society also plays a huge role in the matter, not only are we creating these images we believe in them as well. Many feminist theorists are concerned with the representation of women in this way and discuss the different ways in which women are portrayed. Some look at sex role stereotypes such as: the idea of domestic labour, men's oppression of women, social class and ethnicity, and the women as an object (


Stereotypes in media

  • The majority of images founding magazines and other media reinforce stereotypical conceptions of femininity and masculinity. Males are found in woman magazines only as passive spectators or in advertisements for cigarettes, or cologne where their masculinity is stereotypical portrayed. In the Ralph Lauren advertisement for men’s cologne a man in a business suit is confidently looking at the viewer. He looks secure, powerful and looks as though he could have anything he wanted. His gaze is strong and dominating. On the following page in the magazine there is an advertisement for a woman’s perfume, Sicily Dolce & Gabana. The woman, half dressed, tears in her eyes, and a tissue in her hand. She looks out at the viewer with weakness, delicacy, and vulnerability.


Stereotypes in media

  • Looking out at the person that will save her from this pain she suffers. She is the stereotypical woman in distress. A male viewer feels as though they have the need to protect her. A female viewer wants to be her because they feel as though she has found the life of drama and romance. These images mirror the social world, and maintain the existing stereotypes of masculinity and femininity.


Media portrayals of women

Media Portrayals of Women

  • Stereotypes of females include the super mom, the sex kitten, and the nasty corporate climber. The typical image of a woman in the media has the following traits: white, thin, and always looking good even if she just finished saving the world. However in the last 20 years there has been an increase of the presence and influence of women in the media, yet there are many strong stereotypes that still exist today (Media Portrayals of Girls and Women). Media portrayals of women tend to adhere to cultural stereotypes about gender roles. For instance if a women is portrayed as a strong independent female who is financially secure and has a stable authoritative job, this portrayal is generally undermined by the fact that she is lonely and longing for a heterosexual relationship. Portrayals of girls and women are subject to traditional stereotypes throughout the generations and most likely will continue as we live in a patriarchal society.


Commercials and stereotypes

Commercials and Stereotypes

  • Female stereotypes found in commercials on television represent contradicting motives. Stereotypes are not negative by nature, and can be used in a positive sense in certain situations. Commercials are trying to reach out to viewers to maximize the purchase of the products. What they don’t realize is that extensive research suggests that woman make most purchases for the household, and should be the ones targeted in the consumer commercials. “Although women make most purchases of goods and services, they are still underrepresented as primary characters during most prime time commercials except for health and beauty products.” (Ganahl, 2003) If a stereotype suggests women shop for groceries more then men, commercials and advertisements shouldn’t under represent women but rather use this to their advantage. They can also change this stereotype into a generalization and say that most woman enjoy shopping for groceries and so commercials should be directed at them. The ying and yang of generalization and stereotype can be used to create positive situations, opinions, and thoughts which will alter discriminate behavior and give every individual, female of male, the benefit of unlimited freedom to achieve their goals, even when it lacks traditional ways.


Female stereotypes in music videos

Female Stereotypes in Music Videos

  • Stereotypes not only pertain to commercial television but is also found in music television clips. In a study done by Rita Sommers-Flanagan, John Sommers-Flanagan and Britta Davis exploring gender role and content analysis of music television (MTV) in 1993 “results included the following: (a) men appeared nearly twice as often as women; (b) men engaged in significantly more aggressive and dominant behavior; (c) women engaged in significantly more implicitly sexual and subservient behavior; and (d) women were more frequently the object of explicit, implicit, and aggressive sexual advances.” (Sommers-Flanagan, 1993) Woman have been degraded to the weak sexual objects with only the power of their sexuality, and the men remain the more dominant powerful gender. Canadian statistics by the Media Awareness Network reveal that “The most watched network for girls aged 11 to 19 is MTV with a 27 per cent share of the viewing audience.” From a young age these stereotypes are planted into the heads of many. That woman are sexual objects to look at and males dominate and are in charge. When female stereotypes are looked at within Music Videos, it is important to note that there has been a dramatic change in how females are portrayed and how they portray themselves within the video and their image themselves. For example we can see this transformation in the image makeover of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Jewel and LeAnn Rhimes are even starting to transform their image.


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