Sociology G673 power and control Media representations of Gender

Representations of gender in the media

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Male representations in the media

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  • Men know what they're doing
  • It's about women a lot
  • Funny or try to be
  • Moremasculine around women
  • Unexpected-doing house work
  • Cars, money, brains
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Female representations in the media

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  • A bit slow
  • Moany and don't like a lot of things
  • Funny
  • Caring
  • Gullable
  • Appearance important
  • Sexual objects
  • Limited roles
  • Mothers, housewives or sex objects
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5 main points, 1. Limited range of roles

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  • 1.  Limited range of roles (women)
    • Women are represented in a narrower range of roles than men.
    • Women are found in domestic settings and rarely high occupational roles, such as...
    • Tuchman (see sociologists set)
    • However increase in stronger roles where women are strong, confident and assertive leaders.
    • In soap operas women are often represented as more independent whilst men are weaker.
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5 main points, 2.Visibility of women

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  • Men in past dominated the media, women absent from top jobs.
  • Female issuse marginalised in media.
  • Now growing number of female leads in films
  • Tuchman (see sociologists set)
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5 main points, 3. Women as ideals

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  • Magazines organised around cult of femininity (ferguson, see sociologists set) which promotes/socialises into girls an ideal/stereotype of caring for others, family, marriage and being attractive.
  • Magazines focus on...
    • 'How to look good for him'
  • Media present particular idea body/physical image of women (Wolf, see sociologist set)-size zero causes eating disorders?
  • However (Winship, see sociologists set) magazines support women and present broader range ofoptions not tackled before.
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5 main points, 4. Sex appeal

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  • Women are presented as sexual objects to be enoyed by men
  • Women under the 'male gaze' of the camera lens- 'eyeing' them up (Mulvey)
  • However , feminisation of masculinity-'new lad' and 'ladette' trend, girls encouraged to be sexual aggressors and binge on alcohol.
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5 main points, 5. Male aggressor, female victim

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  • Concern over media presentation of sexual violence.
  • Study-'Hard news'-70% of crime stories focus on ****, victims stereotyped as good women violated by men or bad women leading men on.
  • Smith (see sociologist set)
  • Portray women as vunerable victims of men's superior strength, women need men to protect them.
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Changing representations of men

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  • 80's action films paraded bodies of male heroes, representing threatening physical form of masculinity
  • More recently-Male violence in cinema acquired glamour/stylishness to celebrate traditional masculinity, men gain admiration by solving problems through violence.
  • However, also growing number of violent films with leading female characters.
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Explanations of gender representations

Liberal Feminists

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Media representations are laggin behind women's achievements in society, situation is improving.

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Explanations of gender representations

Radical Feminists

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Media reproduces patriarchy. Traditional images by a male dominted media keep women opressed.

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Explanations of gender representations

Socialist/Marxist Feminists

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Stereotypical images of men/women by product of need to make profit. Male dominated media aim to attract largest audience, do so through representation traditiional gender roles.

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Explanations of gender representations


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Underestimate women's ability to see through stereotyping.

  • Pluralists-Media simply reflects social attitudes and meets needs of men and women. Who creates these needs?
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Consequences of representations

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  • Reinforce stereotypes
  • Encourage discriminationon those that don't fit the ideal
  • Reduce women's self confidence
  • Make women feel guilty for not fulfilling the stereotype
  • Cause health problems (eating disorders/mental illness)
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Alexandra Heath


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