Media and its Control of Gender Roles

Gender roles in our society are both reflected through and created by the media. This article, titled “Examining Media’s Socialization of Gender Roles,” explores what the gender roles in our society are and observes the portrayal of these through different commercials. For example, the series of Depend commercials has very different depictions of men’s and women’s products. The focus of the men’s commercial was primarily about sports and “bringing home the bacon,” considered traditional “masculine” traits, while the women’s commercial focused on appearances.

Similar to the Douglas reading, this article criticizes the media’s portrayal of “traditional” gender roles and how these representations affect Americans’ ideas of what each gender should or should not be or do. The media displays certain traits or characteristics as being “masculine” or “feminine,” which aids in hegemonizing the idea that certain traits are restricted to certain genders. By doing this, the media influences the decisions young boys and girls make due to the societal pressure of being either “feminine” or “masculine.”

Besides the media, how else are gender roles influenced in our society? What impact do these forces have on the American views of gender?



One thought on “Media and its Control of Gender Roles

  1. I just recently watched a TED Talk by Alice Dreger ( She spoke about the way we have tried to tame nature by putting labels, such as genders, on what it creates. But in reality, there are many differences that do not fit into our neat boxes. She also tells a story about a professor that asked her what was feminine about feminism. Dreger thought this was ridiculous- feminism is about breaking gender roles. But upon further exploration, she realized that women have historically been more attuned to complex social relations and those who are vulnerable, while men are focused on protecting people. Feminism, she argues, is about equal treatment and breaking social constructs of gender. Medical categories have been one of the biggest instigators of this; there are really only two boxes to check for sex. However, just as Dreger agues, I believe that there are a lot more ways that the human body can be made and that we need to expand our knowledge and acceptance of these different embodiments.


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