Gender Meanings in the Eyes of the Media
How does the media shape gender?
In the strands of predominant media, stereotypes are cultivated and influence the audience on their own views and attitudes (Goodhall, 2012). Women are underrepresented on television compared to men (Sink & Mastro, 2016), even in this golden age for women. Women are usually represented in a sexual manner for the desires of men (Farvid & Braun, 2006) or of the proposed stereotypes of women and the roles they are supposed to uphold (Coltrane & Adams, 1997) due to the instated social roles (Eagly & Steffen, 1984).
On TV women are primarily presented as provocative in the way they dress and speak (Glascock, 2003), while thin and beautiful (Greenwood, 2006) and young (Signorielli, 2004). Through this exposure, many females believe that they must look, behave, and have attitudes the same as or similar to those on TV (Yamamiya, Cash, Melnyk, Posavac & Posavac, 2005). At times, the media exposure can induce eating disorders due to the body image ideal (Derenne & Beresin, 2014). The ideal suggests that women have to look and behave in certain ways, then depicting how they should be instead of who they are.
Men, conversely, are viewed as masculine and set for certain roles on television that women are seen as unable to portray (Scharrer & Blackburn, 2017). Many sexist portrayals and sexist attitudes have developed from the increased use of pornography (Hald, Malamuth & Lange, 2013), which is the media outlet males will use as sex education as well as masturbatory stimuli (Rothman, Kaczmarsky Burke, Jansen & Baughman, 2014). Media plays an active role in how our reality is constructed (Gamson, Croteau, Hoynes & Sasson, 1992) especially on youth whom are developing their conceptions on society and how they are to behave (Peterson & Peters, 1983).
It is therefore essential to ensure media promotes a more positive and diverse outlook on life, allowing for gender to stand for nothing put what the person wants it to be. It is important to teach such pro-social attributes to children as they grow into youth, so that they grow up with acceptance of those individuals different from 'mainstream' stereotypes (Peterson & Peters, 1983).
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