Its Time For A Change…. | “We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons. But few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters. ”(Gloria Steinem quotes 2012). These influential words from Gloria Steinem reflect that we should dispel what negative views we may have about gender roles. Gender role is the behaviours, attitudes values, beliefs and so on that a particular cultural group considers appropriate for males and females on the basis of their biological sex. ” ( Latibeaudiere, 2012).
What we accept as the prescribed sex role in our society has been shaped by the influence of the media around us. According to Nicholson 1995,” It is apparent that mass media portray men and women differently. ” The media is so intertwined in our lives that we do not truly comprehend on a conscious level how much influence it really has over us. Often times Women are shown as being dependent on men. According to Limpinnian 2012, “the most recent ‘Toilet Duck’advert for example, the housewife’s attempt at cleaning the toilet proves unsuccessful.
The voice-over (female) tells us of Toilet Duck who provides active tablets to wash away the grime. It is not explicitly stated but by his top hat and tails we are encouraged to believe him to be male, indicating that the woman needs a man to invent products in order for her to do the work well. ” Some of the images and messages we see and hear can be both positive and negative. More often than not, we are exposed to images that are so unrealistic and unattainable by the average person that we become discontented with our lives and ourselves.
Images of luxury homes, cars, glamorous clothes, and glamorous body images make us more self-conscious of how we live and how we look. The glamorous sex kitten, the sainted mother, the devious witch, the hard-faced corporate and political climber. At the current rate of progress on stereotyping women, it will take another 75 years to achieve gender equality in the media. Popular magazines aimed at male and female audiences are a prominent culprit, tending to feature women with bodies that are unattainable for the average woman, and to focus on stories related to either catching or pleasing a man as a route to success nd happiness. There has been a consistent theme throughout the centuries where women have been thought of as the ‘lesser’ sex. They have always been thought to have lesser intelligence than men do. It was only in the early 1900’s that women were able to have a voice in our political elections with the right to vote. Unfortunately, the marginalization of women continues but is being exploited through a different venue – the media. The images portrayed in the past 30 years especially have been promoting the use of diets, exercise, and cosmetics for women to look and feel young.
Aging, especially for women, has become a negative in our society. The media has perpetuated a society of unattainable goals for most women. The media industry as a whole is a multi billion dollar industry, and the fact that women are constantly being told that they need to look better, feeds into the bottom line of these industries selling the perfect image. It is a lose-lose situation for the American female. While women spend endless dollars on trying to perfect themselves, the companies that create the fantasy of the ideal female body, just keep getting richer.
The Canadian Health Network found that the average female model is not only much taller than the average woman, but weighs nearly 25% less. The Media Awareness Network, a Canadian research and advocacy organization, found that women’s magazines are ten times more likely to contain articles and advertisements related to dieting than are men’s magazines, and that three-fourths of women’s magazine covers feature articles about overhauling one’s physical appearance. Men are no less targeted as they are often shown to be “missing in action”.
Television sitcoms are usually centered around families involving dysfunctional matriarchal constructs where the father is either missing or is sidelined. A clear example is the Comedy drama “Gilmore girls” which is centered around the relationship between a single mother and her teen daughter. Most heroes and protagonists, particularly in prime time programming, tend to be male. Studies indicate that nearly three-quarters of all female characters in sitcoms are underweight, and those that are overweight are ften the subject of comments or jokes about their bodies made by male characters. One study found that 80% of these comments were followed by canned laughter. The problem is not only the images that are portrayed, but also those that are not. For example, women’s sports receive far less air time than men’s sports on network and cable programming. It is evident that media portrays men and women differently and this affects perceptions among viewers and consumers. However it is full time we over look what the media says and treat people as equals despite their gender.
If we could start thinking about what is reality as a collective society, then maybe we can also accept that reality without constantly trying to change it. These types of media images only perpetuate more insecurity as opposed to positive images about oneself. We need to accept people for how they look, no matter what they look like without trying to live up to some unrealistic image in the media.
References Gloria Steinem quotes (n. d) retrieved from http://thinkexist. com/quotation/we-ve_begun_to_raise_daughters_more_like_sons-but/207640. tml on February 22,2012. Latibeaudiere, S. (2012) Exploring gender identity: Challenging stereotypes [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://vle. bcatja. com/file. php/6/Introducing_Gender_and_Gender_Roles2. pdf Macdonald, Myra, 1995, Representing Women, Myths of Femininity in the Popular Media, London: Edward Arnold Nicholson. H (1995) Gender as a Dynamic Concept in Media Limpinnian. D. (n. d) retrieved from http://www. aber. ac. uk/media/Students/del0001. html on February 23, 2013.