Gender stereotyping is a popular technique that the media employs to generalize female or male traits and personalities. Even though, such action by the media may depict elements of inequality, it is still a popular phenomenon practiced by the media today. These attempts endeavor to identify the sexes based on their consumption patterns, attitudes and socialization. For instance, a female identity is attributed to fashion, design and consumption of sugary products like chocolate. Nevertheless, gender stereotyping has its positive impacts to the society. This paper endeavors analyze gender stereotyping in the media with a view of realizing the causes, effects and best approaches to enhance gender equality through the media.
The research will be conducted majorly among media houses or company putting weight on gender stereotyping. An extensive review of the contents the media houses have aired over the years will be critically analyzed to have an idea of the gender stereotypic representations, and present position in the market.
Media images and stereotyping
Today, viewers and listeners of the media houses are bombarded by the information they receive. Over the years, such information has shaped views on female or male roles in our society. This information is exposed to children and adults whether they are willing or unwilling, yet may represent stereotypic messages. It is clear the media has a significant impact in shaping the mindset and expectations of a whole generation. As indicated by Durham & Douglas (2006), gender stereotypic in the media is a debatable topic that its impacts is traced to childhood appraising based on media representation on the expected traits, personality and attributes of a male or female behavior.
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Stereotyping by the media is about perceived representation of the products and services gender inclination. In addition, it also represents the social interaction of gender in bringing a different meaning to the same product. The media, therefore, tries to put concrete concepts, attachments and thoughts in the viewer’s minds on shaping their behavior. Stereotyping representation is a sense-making process that is shaped by the media is various distinctive ways that eventually define the system. For instance, gender issues are organized in different ways in TV shows, adverts and pornography among others (Durham & Douglas, 2006).
This paper approaches Stereotyping as an imperfect debatable issue that needs to be observed from different perspectives. Gender stereotyping in the media, therefore, involves sharing pictures, advertising, plate printing etc. with a view of providing distinct identifiable behavior among genders that support dominant ideologies. Stereotyping has its negative and positive effects in the society. Among the benefits of media stereotyping are: easily identifiable categories of male and female sexes, help predict behavior in a world that is increasingly growing complex and reaffirm traditional cultural ideologies that define appropriate gender behavior (Matthews, 2007 p. 123).
Gender stereotyping in the media has been persistent because of the embedded ‘kernel of truth’ that stereotypic notions hold a percentage of truth in the real world. In essence, this might be the truth among certain groups in the world. Stereotypes are gradually experiencing a revolution in light of an increasingly globalized world that integrates the cultures and people’s behavior from all corners of the earth. When such change takes place, a uniquely fresh stereotype emerges such as the supermom. Interrelationship exists between the perceptual process in stereotypic illustrations and the linguistic process. These two processes stereotypic thinking exhibit a sense of connection in the likelihood that personal perception is involved. According to Matthews (2007), this means that stereotypes have narrow thinking while lessen the possibility of biasness when portrayed by the media. This is popularly referred to as terministic screen. Therefore, the media are a significant element in the topic of stereotyping. In fact, first media communications entail individual characterization based on gender such as female make-homes while men are largely dealing with complex tasks like construction work.
Other than the advantages mentioned above, stereotyping has a number of negative consequences. Among disadvantages of gender stereotyping in the media are oversimplification of individual personality in groups and hasty assumptions leads to irrelevance in other situations. In addition, stereotyping leads to prejudice and discrimination among groups and hinders equal access to opportunities and resources. Other negative effects of stereotyping are pressures to live up to society ideals and opposed stereotypes bind gender along masculine and feminine behavior (Durham & Douglas, 2006). The stereotypic masculine and feminine bound elucidate that men are supposed to be independent, have authority, breadwinners and be aggressors. On the other hand, women are supposed to be dependent, incompetent, caregivers, victims or sex objects etc.
The media reports are filled with gender stereotypes as seen in programs such as drama. This content is based on traditionally accepted character, as well as society vices that are classified between genders. Nevertheless, the media have a significant impact to children and adults in determining acceptable behavior. Such stereotypes need to be assessed to deduce the reality. According to Matthews (2007), the media as a medium of communication conveys subtle, yet critical sub-textual information about gender, other than its content. To this extent, the contents and relationships are divided among the axioms of gender. Some hidden information differs, however, gives the implications that men are more aggressive, interesting as well as visible when compared to women. Women are considered to be objects of the male gender.
The media stereotypes tend to control their best interest at the expense of gender equality. For instance, they may send stereotypic messages enable them make money. As such, advertisement and TV programs tend to be conservative and repeat past formulas with the sole purpose of making a large audience. Therefore, today gender stereotyping in the media may not be the exact representation of reality. In this context, there a large content between old and new stereotypes that are confusing.
This paper will seek to assess gender stereotyping in the media focusing on images and pictures that attribute the topic. For instance, the female or male presentation, the products used to represents gender, the audience being targeted as well as what the media talks about gender roles and behavior. According to Andrea Press (1989), gender equality has become a social debate that attracts terrains of struggle between men and women. This also points to the cultural power between the male and female as assumed in the society. Therefore, this paper will seek to identify the ideologies of gender assumed by the society over the years with reference to the content reproduced by the media. Nonetheless, prior literature on this topic suggests that stereotyped representation of gender by the media is natural and attempt to justify gender roles naturally.
Agenda Setting, gatekeeping or cultivation theory
Many people think the media reports what is most relevant. However, according to Bittner (2000) the media merely relays or dramatizes information that reflects the importance in the minds of the audience. Many times the audiences observe just what seems to be necessary, but may not be relevant in reality. As suggested by Bittner (2000), media create an agenda for the audience based on their own preferences and interests. This is called the agenda theory. The gatekeeping theory suggests that the media airs anything based on their selection of what is necessary in relation to the thoughts of the audience about what does not appear.
In this regard, gender stereotyping by the media is on what is represented. The real issue is the depiction of women and men in stereotypical ways. This illustrates that gender stereotyping by the media is a reflection of cultural tradition. Whatever the society deems are of importance is probably what the media will report. In addition, reviews about daytime talk shows unveil women’s genre of programs. Most talk shows discuss issues about women, as opposed to men. However, the real question is the importance of the discussion or the show to the audience. If the discussions are important to the audience then it is considered a reality, however, if the media decides to show contents based on company preferences, it sets the agenda for the audience. The latter is clearly stereotyping in the media.
The third is the cultivation theory, which proposes that the media cultivates perception among the audience. This means that the media makes mass communication especially through the television about a distorted perception in the society. As suggested by Malgorzata (2011), the audience tends to think that the real situations are as the way they are represented in the films, advertisement or television. Although part of the media reported is a representation of the reality, it is not fully-realistic. For instance, Gerbner and his business partners discovered that individuals who watch television news too much always think there is more violence in the world than it really is. Such an audience tends to think along peace and violence lines, but the reality is quite different. Another illustration is when many audiences anticipate romantic relationships to look like those in the films and television. The truth is that many relationships are not, rather there are many relationships that have problems and end up in breakups. This is because media representation is not just the reality but, it does not depict the set period.
Generalization and simplification of gender by the media
Indeed the topic of gender stereotyping has increasingly elicited attention from many groups of interest. Consciously or unconsciously, the community absorbed the notion of gender stereotypes through socialization which was stirred by media discussions and advertisements among others. Most generalizations or simplification based on cultural ideologies represent false thoughts of reality and have positive and negative impacts.
The media reveal gender stereotypic differences through the depiction of the female character as thin and inclined to tender beauty. The male characters are portrayed as strong and independent with little concern about fashion or beauty. The generalization of women in the media as being objectified has been pronounced in the media adverts, programs and discussions for long. With the gap between men and women roles slimming, the media stereotypes towards gender have the same effect on both genders. The abundant slimming adverts and discussion have serious consumes self-conceptualization, uniqueness as well as gender values.
Adverts are popular and its repetitions through the media make them the most powerful tools on information in the society. As such, advertisements have a fundamental contribution to the cause of stereotypic problems as they foster a society that sells women’s bodies as acceptable and short and less masculine men as inferior. As such, these individuals feel overstretched to conform to the general justification of an acceptably lovely man or woman. In fact, many women and men are forced to go to great lengths to alter their physique in an attempt to fit in the media-perceived environment.
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Therefore, their mindset is subjected to perceive their faces as masks while their bodies are objects. This is because changes to ones face or body imply augmentation as well as disguise. The case is worse for a female audience since they are advised to internalize the reported information based on the perspective of their own physique or attributes. This perception does not include attention to other invisible attributes like emotional feelings and inner bodily states. This illustrates objectification of gender. Studies indicate that advertisements tend to objectify women body and beauty, as opposed to men. Men is popular in selling merchandise while the females are portrayed to that pronounces their sexuality. Traditional setting on gender-objectification plays a role to associate the female gender with their personal traits. As such, enables one to assess the value of their personality or traits based on these stereotypes. Eventually, one should be able to control his or her association. As such, their actions are a result of presumptions that leave them preoccupied in effect called self-objectification (Malgorzata, 2011).
The literature review in this paper sheds enough light for the researcher to come up with the following hypothesis that the study will seek to realize.
H1: Media reports represents their own agenda that tends to distort perception along gender lines rather than the reality
This means that the media makes mass communication especially through the television about a distorted perception in the society. As such, the audience tends to think that the real situations are as the way they are represented in the films, advertisement or television. The truth is that many relationships are not, rather there are many relationships that have problems and end up in breakups. This is because media representation is not just the reality but, it does not depict the set period.
H2: Gender stereotyping in the media significantly affects the patterns of life between men and female
Stereotyping by the media is about perceived representation of the products and services gender inclination. In addition, it also represents the social interaction of gender in bringing a different meaning to the same product. As such, female and males will have different preferences of products and services, yet in reality the product is unisex.
H3: Gender stereotyping in the media is a continuous process since a new stereotype reemerges every day
Stereotypes are gradually experiencing a revolution in light of an increasingly globalized world that integrates the cultures and people’s behavior from all corners of the earth. When such change takes place, a uniquely fresh stereotype emerges such as the supermom. Interrelationship exists between the perceptual process in stereotypic illustrations and the linguistic process. These two processes stereotypic thinking exhibit a sense of connection in the likelihood that personal perception is involved.
The research will be conducted majorly among media houses or company putting weight on gender stereotyping. First data will be collected from the media companies. This will comprise of secondary data such as video, pictures advertisement and program reviews. This will be through analysis of the media promotional strategies, financial information from advertisements and programs, general presentation of content, together with the marketing goals and objectives with regard to gender stereotyping. Thereafter, the researcher shall move to unrecorded data, this will involve holding the interview with various employees and company stakeholders of the media houses. As suggested by Durham, & Douglas, (2006) these interviews will be carried out through online, face to face and offline methods. It is worth noting that all the interview information shall be gauged under one footing. Further, the research shall move to the external environment involving the audience, customers, external stakeholders and the competitor analysis.
Analysis and interpretation
The data collected will be analyzed. Analysis will involve going through the secondary documents and primary data collected in an attempt harmonize the information. Analysis will involve patterns, correlation and identify trends in gender stereotyping. In addition, the analysis will also cut across examination of phallic symbols, yonic symbols.
As such, the research will table a number of approaches to strategies to come up with the best strategy that will reveal stereotypes that are negative and positive. The analysis of this study will be based on justification of gender ideologies as covered in the literature review (Matthews, 2007).
Therefore, the study will be based on stereotypical mythic structure that represents gender stereotyping in the media today. The researcher will focus on determining underlying predispositions about gender attributes as espoused in Jungian archetypes. Much concentration will be channeled to media representation of femininity and masculinity.
Timeline and Reporting
The research will involve sources both from the general population, media content, and journals and on online surveys carried about the gender stereotyping in the media. The online survey will target the products that allow consumers to access online services. The concrete conclusions obtained can be used to review the information targeted to the audience along stereotypic contexts (Malgorzata, 2011). Interviews may be carried out through the website either by exchanging emails or by even live chats with some of the products consumers and audiences as well as media houses. This is a convenient way to reach out to the majority of the populations who have access to the online services and media content via their mobile handsets.
This can be achieved by expressing interest to question some audiences online. If they happen to have seen the advertisement of products those interested will respond to the article, there might be a series of simple questions upon which will guide the respondents to the real questionnaire. This helps avoid jokers who may not be willing to give any information towards the research. The topic should be posted so that readers will evaluate it and decide whether to assist with the answers or not.
The research will be conducted for three months. The data collected will be used to identify all the research objectives and link with responses received from online and offline interviews carried out by the researcher.
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