Effects of the Portrayal of Gender Roles and Stereotypes in Media

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Media has significant role in our current culture, to make norms and social unwritten rules by sharing information and giving entertainment to vast audiences.Mass media has various tools such as television, radio,billboards, programs,books and the Internet. Internet is one of the fastest to reach and most developing one but TV also has strong influence to audiences.

Mass media also can be tool to create a certain type of message in this way media can manipulate people’s attitude and opinions and beliefs easily. according to a Canadian communication theorist Marshall McLuhan, it also affects people’s lives by shaping their opinions, attitudes and beliefs (1964).

I would like focus on this problem that how mass media can influence stereotypes and gender roles in our daily life. I will also stress that advertising used gender roles and stereotypes as a marketing and satisfaction techniques.

Stereotypes and Gender Roles

People learn their knowledge about the world around them through their lives and they classify received information in this way they can create cognitive scheme, that is representations of the our worldview. Schemes also used in social environment such as stereotypes that shows opinions about other groups from among members of certain group. When we start to get know others socialization part comes first then we start to internalize it during the socialization process. They are result of our own observations or we just learn from the others, like family, friends, teachers and media. However generalization and simplifies are really significant part of stereotype so that it can be subjective, incomplete and false image of reality. One of the sources of stereotypes is tradition and have really strong relations with it. It is clear to understand that its hard to change stereotypes just because of the fact of tradition.

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Under the influence of tradition,stereotypes can be positive and negative one and latter is more common. Even if stereotype is negative and it is all world known issue in this case people prefers to take it as an exception than change the way of thinking. However social classified is another problematic issue of stereotypes. American psychologist, Elliot Aronson, said that stereotypes can be used identical features to each member of a certain group without taking the existing differences among the members into consideration (1972).

As I mentioned in above stereotype can be negative effect in order to understand that we can analyze gender roles in our modern society. When topic comes to gender roles, there is only one image in our eyes which is that one strong working men and lovely stay-at-home women. This image is totally patriarchy way of thinking but patriarchy has been a dominant family model and still exists in some place in all around the world. Men always have been thought to be strong, independent, founder of family and earn money to take care of his family however women have been represented as a mother who is taking care of children, housewives and dependent one. When we grow up we learn gender roles from our first teacher in home, our families. They expect that behave like what fits to our traditional roles and whats normal for them. If I would like to give an easy and clear example I can say that pink is for girls easily. Therefore a boy learns it girls go for pink and he should not go for it. Society works like forcing him to not have any pink item at all.

However we are developing and changing our world view so that our family model is becoming more partnership instead of patriarchy. There is also another effect to change family model that women can find equal works as men can do. When women start to earn money too they are getting more confident and find right to talk about family issues in their own home. In this case we have to thank to feminist movement that they are doing great things for women and their rights. Feminist motto says that there should not distinguish between man and woman. Feminism is working hard and taking nations to further but still gender inequality exists abut not so vast anymore.

On the other hand mass media which is in every part of our life that is still insisting to use gender roles and represent them as a stereotypes.

We distinguish women and men roles by mass media and media does it very well. Morley said that 'The younger generations are especially influenced by its depiction of gender roles. Even though television has improved very well in its representation of gender, women are still stereotype in conventional roles, and under-represented, while men are revealed or seen as dominant figures' (Lawrence, 2004, p.28).

Effects of Mass Media

I would like to focus on effects of mass media in stereotypes and gender roles. As I mentioned before media is fastest, reachable and unavoidable. We are under the bombardment by media that such as a commercials, newspapers, advertisements and so on. They are everywhere and try to give a message like how we should be. Media influence on our way of thinking by sending any message or idea. They are capable of impact on us whether small or big. These informations represent female and male roles in wrong way. Katha Pollitt, American author, says that “boys are central, girls are peripheral”, and that “girls exist only in relation to boys” in her essay “The Smurfette Principle”. She also claims that streotypical female figure should support by male. She imagines gender roles in media as a train and females are like a passenger in the train which is driving by male character. Media teaches to boys girls are not that much important.

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