The Role Media Plays in Relation to Gender Stereotypes Essay

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By being born a man or a woman signals to bearing certain clear sexual characteristics. Socialization takes individuals through a path that inculcates certain norms and codes of conduct depending on whether one is born a male or a female. In other words, the rules that one adopts and follows are guided by whether they are biologically male or female. Therefore, one’s communication, expression and behavior is shaped by the preexisting cultural and social norms including non-verbal language. Consequently, people’s behavior may differ because they are shaped by cultural and social norms from varying socio-ethnic and cultural setups. All these forces define gender; which is effectively a social construction of one’s biological sex. It allows for the recognition and distinction between men and women. According to Lippman (1922), stereotypes were important because they were an offshoot of a people’s ideas and heritage and, thus, served important purposes. Stereotypes helped to facilitate homogeneity in beliefs and values. The latter reason is what enables the units of social influence including peer groups, family and media to transmit the common beliefs, values and stereotypes within their own (Gerino, Marino, Brustia & ROLLÈ, 2014). The media plays a central role in the provision of images that bear meanings collectively shared. The meanings are then reconditioned by the behavior of the individual and their attitudes (Kay, Matuszek & Munson, 2015). There are new studies about the role of the media is shaping the behavior of individuals. The media, especially social media plays a major role in the shaping of cultures, attitudes and behavior. It also presents a fresh viewpoint for the confusing interaction between the bottom-up cultural trends and mainstream ones (Rolando, Taddeo & Beccaria, 2016). It is commonplace occurrence for the media to portray certain cultures as negative. Such a scenario is even more significant when reflecting gender stereotypes. Gender constitutes socio-cultural differences between women and men as designed by social setup. The media overlooks the socio-cultural development that influences the development of such gender roles as shown. The continuing shift in social positions and roles in modern day is rarely reflected by the media sources (Šramová, 2014). While the media audience is at liberty to choose what media content to follow, it is the media that possesses the ultimate power to decide the gender roles that are visible and the ones that won’t be. Such a stance is what the agenda setting, tendency by the media, theory explores. In short, he media decides what is to be talked about and what will not. The radio, TV, music, drama, movies, discussions, reality TV, newspapers, magazines and other electronic media sources, includes the internet all present the public with the agenda that they pursue their social deliberations. The content presented may play a reinforcement role or help to reset previous stereotypes, values and beliefs with regard to gender roles. At the same time, there is research to the effect that when media exposes individuals to groups with varying gender stereotypes or cultural perspective, it may also help to positively influence a positive change of behavior and perspective. The media has an opportunity to help people to overcome sexist stereotypes (Giomi, Sansonetti & Tota, 2015). An analysis of the role of the media with regard to gender stereotypes should be done to enable effective communication between with others and ourselves in our group setups.


Gender based stereotyping shows how gender roles are carried out in one’s socialization process. The stereotyping points to the roles that females and males in society have been assigned arbitrarily by the society and which form part of such a society’s way of life. These roles are assigned and determined by the sex of an individual. Thus, gender roles inform an individual’s activities as guided by belief systems. Such systems often limit one’s abilities and talents because they are predetermined. Consequently, gender roles, determined by society, often lead to a waste of human resource because individual talents are not exploited maximally. Such a predisposition also influences the formation of gender identities among the youth. They inform their choices across a broad spectrum of their social life including career choices and private life. The gender stereotyping societal phenomenon views males and females asymmetrically and leads to an imbalance in the distribution of resources across the socio-economic spectrum. It is therefore clear that gender stereotyping leads to gender inequality (Giomi, Sansonetti & Tota, 2015). The media plays an important role in the identity formation among the youth.

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The youth are exposed to a wide range of social images that work as social symbols. According to Dennis McQuail (2010), the phenomenon is an influence that is negotiated. He further argues that the role of the media is more of a constructivist one. The media develops meaning and hands it over to its audience. The audience in turn incorporates such a meaning in their personal meaning systems. It is, therefore, clear that meaning is a product of the audience as a result of a negotiation and mediation process. The process, is, of course, highly influenced by the social context of the receiver (McQuail, 2010). Consequently, the media plays an ambivalent role in which it seeks to attract the largest audience possible. The media, effectively, prefers to only touch on socially acceptable trends and avoids social extremism. It uses simplistic and often stereotyped form of social reality, phenomena and group images. stereotypes have been found to help people understand complex phenomena. Stereotypes provide a sense of security because they help to rest anxiety that emanates from uncertain phenomena; and Gender stereotyping is not an exception (Giomi, Sansonetti & Tota, 2015).

The emphasis is that the media play a central role in the formation of opinions at both individual and group level. They have, therefore, a responsibility to promote human dignity. The role extends to discouraging and preventing discrimination against women and promoting equality between the two genders. By encouraging quality between both men and women, it is assumed that there is a shift on cultural and social patterns aimed at eliminating prejudices leveled against either sex (Giomi, Sansonetti & Tota, 2015).

Media stereotypes help the listeners, readers and watchers to understand messages with ease. Such stereotyping aims at demonstrating the perception of the majority and hence contributes to their confidence and social stability. Stereotypes are an essential ingredient in the construction of social reality. They assist people to orient, conceptualize, evaluate and categorize the world. Stereotypes are often used to sustain and maintain a position in an argument as opposed to evidence and fact-based information. In advertising, stereotyped symbols and images distort reality and simplify it so that they undermine the true cultural and social reality. With regard to content stereotyping, advertising strongly oversimplifies and distorts the individual and group images. The generalized concepts are usually modeled based on unimportant or insignificant characteristics. The content of advertising creates expectation of behavior in certain forms when looking at someone who belongs to a specified stereotyped set. The expectations are not aligned to the facts and realities on the ground. Indeed, they may even bar its correct representations. Thus, the media ought to subject itself to a lot of research and reflection (Šramová, 2014). It has been generally accepted that advertising influences and promotes gender inequality through its sexism promotion and portrays them as acceptable and valid. Sexism is the presentation of women as an inferior set of beings with regard to what they can or cannot do. Such a portrayal is clothed and expressed in the traditional advertising themes that tend to confine women to certain roles and certain functions. Exposure to such kind of advertising is noted to generate attitudes that are anti women. Victimization of women sexually tends to be exalted through advertising. It has also been found to work against the effort by women to increase their societal influence and power (Zotos & Tsichla, 2014).

The Role That the Media Plays in the Shaping of Gender-Linked Identities

In the course of making it clear that the definition of the roles of men and women in society is a matter of, societal beliefs, culture, personal appearance and sexuality as opposed to their sex, gender is a social construct, by definition. The media, plus the rest of the socialization openings such as the system of education, friends, peers and family play a significant role in the provision of symbolic elements such as role models, images, values and narratives that people are likely to use at personal level as they construct their identity. While the audience can refuse or accept the media content they are exposed to, the media is responsible for making sure that what is presented is positive and helps in resolving the gender biases that society in burdened with. All sources of media information are important in shaping and reshaping the perceptions by the public regarding gender and gender roles as relates….....

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Puchner, L., Markowitz, L., & Hedley, M. (2015). Critical Media Literacy and Gender: Teaching Middle School Students about Gender Stereotypes and Occupations. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 7(2), 23-34.

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McQuail, D. (2010): Mass Communication Theory-6th Edition. London: Sage.

Šramová, B. (2014). Aggressive Marketing, Consumer Kids and Stereotyping of Media Contents. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 140, 255-259.

Gerino, E., Marino, E., Brustia, P., & ROLLÈ, L. (2014). Gender and media representation. Romanian Journal of Experimental Applied Psychology, 5(4).

Rolando, S., Taddeo, G., & Beccaria, F. (2016). New media and old stereotypes. Images and discourses about drunk women and men on YouTube. Journal of Gender Studies, 25(5), 492. doi:10.1080/09589236.2015.1041462

Kay, M., Matuszek, C., & Munson, S. A. (2015, April). Unequal representation and gender stereotypes in image search results for occupations. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 3819-3828). ACM.

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