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?



What Does “Like a Girl” Really Mean?

The cultural object being studied is a commercial by Always called “#LikeAGirl.”  This commercial focuses on the now hegemonic association of the phrase “like a girl” with negativity or inferiority. This thought process is similar to the Baynton reading, which points out the negative connotations of disability and how this harms disabled people and encourages unequal treatment.

Similar to the Baynton reading, this commercial questions why being compared to a girl is such a bad insult. Just how it has been commonly accepted in our society that being referred to as “disabled” is an insult to one’s physical or mental ability, it has also become common to use the phrase “like a girl” to refer to poor athletic or physical ability. Not only does this imply that all girls are less skilled in athletics, but it damages the self esteem of girls by creating the notion that being a girl is automatically a disadvantage in life.

What other slang or common phrases shed women in a negative light? How does this affect the way our society views women in other aspects of life?