November 16th, 2018.
Pink dresses for girls and blue shirts for boys; barbie doll and a kitchen set for girls and cars for boys. Where did all this come from? Who differentiated toys and colors based on gender? Its thought provoking how a color can be a status that defines a girl or a boy. The advertisements we see today are very gender stereotypical and these advertisements classify what is female oriented and what is male oriented. Since childhood, boys get an idea that they are strong and are going to be the dominant one, and the girls are suppose to be fragile, emotional and weak. Overall, the media and gender related advertisements are affecting the way a girl or a boy should think about himself or herself, and the most effected ones are the children who are from five to 10 years of age. When we talk about gender and media, the conservation will be never ending because media is the root cause for gender inequality. Gender classifications in media, the great information source, has not only mold the thinking of young adults but have also influenced young children and their parents by manifesting the idea of how a girl or a boy should behave not only in general but also in sports.
Media has a negative influence on the way young adults think about themselves, their jobs and their behaviors because media discriminates jobs based on gender stratification. The women dominated jobs are nursing, elementary school teacher, day care taker, beautician, Montessori Directress; and the male dominated jobs are engineering, law, military, and so on. In general if we calculate, women these days don’t go for jobs related to Congress and politics and men don’t go for jobs like nursing. Is this because a man is not capable to become a nurse or a female is not capable to become a politician? No. This is because media has classified the jobs based on gender stratification and because we as a society see ourselves through the social mirror which is media in this case, we tend to follow what is shown to us by the media. The character and the role played by people in the movies or advertisements divided things based on gender. In most of the movies and advertisements, a nurse is always a female and this subconsciously gives the idea to people that it is insulting for men to be nurses because nursing is a female oriented job. This is why today, even if a man has the potential to be a good nurse or a great elementary school teacher, he will still not go for it because he knows that these jobs are meant only for female. Now that the jobs have been divided into categories based on gender, the advertisements uses wordings based on gender stereotypes which proves that media discriminates based on gender stratification. Gaucher, D., Friesen, J., and Kay A. C while describing how words used by media underestimate the potential of the female in an article points out, ” Job advertisements for male-dominated areas employed greater masculine wording (i.e., words associated with male stereotypes, such as leader, competitive, dominant) than advertisements within female-dominated areas. No difference in the presence of feminine wording (i.e., words associated with female stereotypes, such as support, understand, interpersonal) emerged across male- and female-dominated areas” ( Gender and Media p. 3). We may not pay a lot of attention to these kinds of working consciously, but subconsciously we become what others tell about us and as media gives words like support, understanding and interpersonal to women, women feel that they have to be like this and eventually become this. A women can also be a leader and be dominant but because of the media and the self fulfilling prophecy of us humans, a lot of women and men get influenced by what media shows they have to be and now these behaviors based on gender have become the basic norms that have to be followed. This is how media is indirectly forcing the men and women to think or behave in a certain way. The other side might say that people who don’t want to follow the media and who don’t want to get influenced can choose not to follow it and I agree that following the media and getting influenced or not following the media and not getting influenced is an individual’s own choice, but we have to consider the fact that at the end of the day, we are humans and we do get influenced. It is very significant for us as general public to realize that media is indirectly molding the way we think about ourselves and if we cannot change the media, the least we can do is not get influenced by this gender discriminating force.
Children take in whatever they are exposed to in the prime years of their development, and media has a lot of gender based classifications that mold the personalities of these children which is not good because now they think the way others want them to think about themselves. The children have to be given enough choices to decide what they want to be like but because media shows that boys have to be strong and manly looking, the boys who do not want to be like this are forced to be like this. By showing girls as polite, calm, homely and docile, the media indirectly and subconsciously is telling the girls that they cannot be strong like boys which is also not good as it is taking away the chance from the girls who want to be strong and make their career in fields that are stereotyped as “male oriented fields”. A common Sense Study done for showing how Media has a negative impact on the children explains, “Think of preschoolers who are just beginning to identify as boys or girls. The characters they see on TV and in movies often have an obvious masculine or feminine appearance, such as a superhero’s big muscles or a princess’ long hair. These characteristics also are often associated with specific traits — for example, being strong and brave or fearful and meek” (John datien p. 12). All these movies are a major reason why young children are taught from the very beginning that they are going to be strong super heroes if they are boys and if the are girls, they are weak and they need a super hero to support them. This can sometimes be very dangerous because now the society expects the boys to be strong like a hero and if he is not able to do so, he suffers through emotional problems due to feeling left out. If the media shows girls that are strong, powerful and dominating, may be the culture would be more accepting towards girls. If girls are given roles that are related to working, running the family and earning the living rather than house wives, care takers and submissive followers, the mindset of the people will change as they see the change in the media. Media is a source of learning for many people and it is very important to show the right information as people will do what the see around. Girls and boys both should be encouraged by the media to take their own decisions and do what pleases them instead of the society and their gender based norms.
When we talk about the world of sports, we realize that media does not cover women oriented sports and this is having a very negative impact on women as they are not encouraged as much as men to take part in sports. This is why it becomes very important for us to judge closely about what is happening in today’s society and why is media not encouraging women as much as it encourages men in sports. Jean O’ Reilly while expressing how media is covering only male oriented sports and this is discouraging the women explains, “Super Bowl is described as “pure spirit of America” by media. What does this synthetic super media spectacle tell us about the differences between males and females in our culture? At a minimum, professional football remains a male-only preserve, we learn that being a male in our culture confers a degree of privilege” (Women, Media and sports, p 56). It is thought provoking that why is super bowl such a great event and if it is a great event, who made it so great? Media has publicized super bowl so much that it is called the pure spirit of America and it is very sad to see that something that is representing the nation is only male oriented. Women football team also exists but does anyone know about? Media did not describe women football team as the true spirit of America. This clearly shows how people like things that are publicized by media and they don’t even think before following it. If media starts covering the women football team, even women oriented sports will be considered the true spirit of America. A lot girls today are scared and afraid to make their career in sports because in our society, it is not given a lot of importance and this is because the main information source of our nation does not feel the need to cover women oriented sports.
We fight so much for equality between men and women but we do not look at the reason that is causing and promoting this inequality. It is very difficult to understand this because we do not have time to think about media and the reliability of its information in detail. In addition to this, media is considered the most famous source of knowledge and information that everybody follows it. I understand that thinking about media subconsciously encouraging gender discrimination in itself is a big task because these days we see ourselves through the mirrors of the media. What everybody believes becomes true and we tend to start believing it too. It is very important that we understand the urgency of changing how things work in the media to make our society an equality based society. It is important that media breaks the barriers of inequality between men and women and as audience it is important for us to understand that we have to do our research before we follow the media blindly.
2. Gaucher, D., Friesen, J., & Kay, A. C. (2011). Evidence that gender-ed wording in job advertisements exists and sustains gender inequality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(1), 109-128.
3. Helge.”JHVS OF Ohlendorf Rolf.” Ortsfeuerwehr Siedenburg, www.feuerwehr-siedenburg.de/Bilder-Fahrzeuge-TSF-7.