There is no limit to what we believe we can become as children, but as girls and boys, we are steered in different directions growing up. It is a result of gender stereotypes. Life today is increasingly saturated with mass media, from advertisements, television shows, novels, radio shows, and many others. At the same time, media has played a massive role in gender stereotypes by making society believe that it is natural and prevalent. Traditional gender roles go back to when they were transparent and unequal rules about how people were expected to act based on gender. From men being in dominant positions to women being sexualized in the media and portrayed as the family’s caregivers, these gender-role stereotypes have primarily affected the world by separating and violating equal rights for all gender.
In today’s society, men in positions of authority and power have taken more slots in politics, business, and other occupational roles. The media has portrayed men as aggressive, assertive, and challenging, and as for women, they are domestic, docile, and generally insubordinate to men. According to Dr. Devi (2011), “children’s toys such as trucks, remote control gadgets, building blocks, superheroes have been marketed to boys while dolls and play kitchens belong to girls”. Therefore, for boys, their toys will teach them science, math, stem, and block engineering skills, leading them to good career paths and better-paying jobs. Women’s toys focus on household, fashion, and art, gearing them for social employment and staying at home. Boys will have a false impression that they are better than girls, which will later cause gender inequality and inequity. Therefore, it is vital to give children an assortment of toys to play with, so they have an opportunity to build a multitude of skills not based on gender stereotypes.
From social media, television shows, and music videos, the media has portrayed women by sexualizing them. The press has described them as beautiful, appealing, sexy, and with a perfect body image to attract the audience. “Sexual discourse in the media shapes a woman’s gender construct as early as 12 years old” (Haripriya, 2005, p.23). In today’s society, the media has influenced our young women. Advertisements for beauty products and fashion have given women a false ideology of how a woman should appear, giving women depression and anxiety due to body image issues. Moreover, as a cause of sexualizing women, young women have been dehumanized and devalued in society, leading to cases of sexual harassment. That is why families should encourage them to have open conversations with their children about their online activities and discuss issues that will enforce respect towards every gender.
In commercial shows, women are domestic, nurturing, and better at raising children. The media has perceived women as a stay at home beings who cook, clean, and take care of children. “They have been labeled as family caregivers” (Azar 2018). Household commercial shows show women as the cook, cleaners, and caregivers of children in diaper commercials, which is a false impression of a woman’s capabilities. Therefore, the media should also show men that they can equally participate in household chores.
The media have an outstanding role in forming public opinion and strengthening society. These gender stereotypes may not be entirely accurate. Still, when stereotypes continue to define genders, it becomes complicated to define gender roles by removing gender stereotypes sown by the media. In the long run, long-time exposure to particular stereotypical portrayals could result in distorted perceptions about gender and their roles. Therefore, the media should focus on identifying and addressing these various gender imbalances and gaps and create cognizance among society to shed the primitive mindset that disparages gender.
Dr. Devi. M. L (2018) Gender Stereotypes in The Media. Vol 6, Issue 9. Delhi, Manipur University Press.
Haripriya. M (2005) Women in Advertisement on Television. Women and Media: Challenging Feminist Discourse. Delhi, The Women Press.
Azar. M. L. (2018) Gender Discourse: Feminist Critical and Political Perspective and Praxis. Volume 7. Google Books.