For centuries, people have developed stereotyped ideas about the patterns of behavior of men and women, to which the representatives of a different gender are still guided, regardless of their individual characteristics and age. These models of human behavior are formed in the process of socialization, one of the most powerful tools of which today are the media. Values and perceptions concerning the role of women and men in society are reflected in the information flows broadcast by the media. The way in which media represent the social roles of men and women has a great impact on their social status and, in addition, lays down attitudes, beliefs and behavioral stereotypes among the younger generation. In the media, gender stereotypes are widely used, based on the accepted in the society notions of masculine and feminine concepts of personality. These representations are recognized by the individual as concrete models of behavior accepted in culture. Masculinity and femininity are historically variable characteristics. Modern media reflects these characteristics in the press, the Internet, on radio and television and contribute to the formation of certain behavioral attitudes of the individual. Gender stereotypes are able to change in the course of historical development due to changing roles in society, but it should be borne in mind that they are characterized by stability and long-term existence in broadcasting to a mass audience and very slowly change in the mass consciousness.
The process of socialization of boys and girls, men and women differ substantially from one another and involves the assimilation of models of sex-role behavior. From the point of view of IL. Kogan, the sexual role is a model of social behavior, a set of expectations, stereotypes, demands addressed to the society by men or women.
In modern society, media is one of the main sources of information about the world, models, norms and rules of behavior. Relating to this, the analysis of mass media as an institute of gender socialization becomes especially relevant. At the same time, it is necessary to consider the complex structure of the communicative process, in which the audience is not only a passive object of media influence, but is an active participant in the functioning of the mass media.
The concept of gender stereotypes is closely related to the notion of gender – the internal communications towards the place of women and men in society, their functions and social tasks. These stereotypes are a barrier in the establishment of true gender equality in our society. Gender stereotypes in the media are inseparable from the image of women, as well as the idea of women’s functions in this or that period.
In a media woman is represented mainly in two foreshortenings – as a sexual object and as a housewifee. When depicting women, their attractiveness, beauty, and youth are depicted. Their role set is very limited and includes traditional social roles of mother, wife and “keeper of the home”, as well as the most popular role of a model in modern society.
A man in the media performs a greater number of social roles, among which the traditional ones also predominate – the man is presented as an earner, a defender, a leader and has a higher social status. Particular emphasis is placed on such features as efficiency, strength, power. Thus, the media disseminates patriarchal gender stereotypes.
Despite the total nature of the functioning of mass communication, in the minds of youth, the transformation of gender representations is noticeable, there is a tendency for a transition from patriarchal stereotypes, based on the principle of hierarchy of the sexes to egalitarian, connected with the lack of gender asymmetry which indicates the ambiguous role of the mass media in the process of gender socialization.
At the current stage, the formation of gender stereotypes is most influenced by television. According to the research, children who often watch TV, are more eager for gender stereotyping, and their views on gender roles are more sustainable. Since the information world of children is limited enough, those who often watch television programs can perceive television as a representation of social reality and take gender-stereotyped information as fully consistent with reality. Information coming to the audience through television channels, forms stereotyped images of women and men.
The image of a woman in the media corresponds to gender stereotypes of the following types: woman-mother, woman-wife, woman-housewife. This image is endowed with traditional feminine qualities: caring for the family and children, loving mother and wife or the desire to achieve women’s happiness. In these films, family values and the importance of the home are absolutized. But such images are few and usually comedic. Mass media, broadcasting such female images, contribute to the preservation in the mass consciousness of traditional ideas about the role of women in society.
However, there is another role for women, which is widely broadcast in the media, especially in pop culture. Today we can trace the cultivation of the image of a woman as a sexual object. Modern music videos are often an advertising and pornographic genre.
The attitude towards a woman is reduced to the perception of a woman as a beautiful picture, accessory. Therefore, a woman must conform to the social ideas formed in a society and the she simply does not have the right to look bad. Cellulite, excess weight, wrinkles – by its appearance women insult man’s aesthetic taste, go to the gym and do botox. Otherwise, no man will want you.
These imposed standards of beauty have been formed for decades: the film industry, glossy magazines, model business, advertising, which creates a kind of ideal and unattainable female image, where there is no room for smells, menstruation, wrinkles, gray hair, and where even a shaving machine is driven by perfectly smooth skin. Snow-white smile, radiant skin, lush and shiny hair, thick eyelashes, slender, tight body. This is standards.
At the same time, the man plays the role of leader. He is aggressive, dominant, independent, self-sufficient. He uses women as a means of satisfying his own needs and desires. The world revolves around him.
Pop culture, and especially music videos, constantly support these images. Evidence of this are numerous clips that are broadcast on television and on YouTube.
One of these music videos, which clearly shows all the stereotyped images is «Swalla» by Jason Derulo (feat. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign).
In the video, the men are at the center of attention, almost in every scene with women draped on their lap or over their shoulders. Jason Derulo has female dancers surrounding him throughout the whole video. The women seem to solely be there to dance and look defiant. They are in revealing clothing and are showing off their breasts and buttocks. Usually, men in music videos stand there while women dance around or on them. Derulo is more active in this video however; he dances with his female counterparts. Although at the same time he behaves very dominant, almost does not notice the girls who dance around him. It is noteworthy that almost in all scenes, women are almost at the feet of men. Men always stand above women.
Niki Minaj appears in the video, and if it seemed that she would try to distinguish herself from the other women in the video by dressing or acting differently, she did not do that. She is dressed the same as the other dancers; she has a crop top on that shows off her cleavage, and tiny shorts to show off her shape. She even lies on the ground during her rap while touching herself. It seems that she cannot really get away from the sexual roles that most music videos have women in. Women in this video are sexually open and submissive to men’s sexual desires.
It seemed to say that women are happy to have men look at them sexually, and invite this attention with revealing clothes. In the video, the men are more than willing to “enjoy the show”. The sexuality of the men in this video is represented by them being passive viewers who “let the women” interact with them sexually. Only when the woman invites or instigates the sexual encounter do the men “give in” and reciprocate. I think the most blatant representation of this idea is when the video shows a woman sitting in a chair posing seductively, nude, and covered in bright paint for the men to view. Derulo then pours paint over her, and begins to run his fingers down her chest. The lyrics of the song invite “all the girls in here” to drink, presumably so that they will be more willing to let loose and be more sexually free. Once this occurs, the men can more freely interact with the women.
The men in music videos are often shown admiring women’s bodies, especially their buttocks and cleavage. This is seen in Derulo’s video, with a woman standing beside the rapper Ty Dolla $ign in short shorts showing her backside to the camera. The men in this video are more than willing to watch the women dance seductively. The men only interact when the women throw themselves at the men. In one scene some of the women are using the men almost like a strip pole, and of course the men hold them up and enjoy the “performance”. This is reinforcing the idea that men are there to watch and women are there to perform for them.
The video has a simple message: Let’s party! Without the lyrics you can tell that the video is telling the viewer to go out to a club or party, get drunk, and have a crazy night. It mainly centers around alcohol being the key to having fun. The video shows many images of the women holding bottles of alcohol juxtaposed with images of the women dancing.
I think that this video unfortunately reinforces harmful stereotypes. It seems to suggest that all women are seeking excuses to be sexually promiscuous, and in this case, they are told to drink alcohol so that they can party. There is nothing wrong with women expressing their sexuality, but this video, like many others, suggests that all women want and need is sex, and that they need men to fulfill this desire.
It looks like the video will teach girls to drink when they party so that they can be sexually open and promiscuous for men. Viewers might think that women must always be showing off for men to get any kind of attention from them. Men are shown as viewers, and women are shown as the ones who must perform. The lesson for men here is to meet women at clubs or parties, because the women there will be more likely to fulfill men’s fantasies in these settings.
Women are viewed as sexual objects in this video and are the center of attention. It is almost saying that you can’t have a good time without hot, half-naked women around you. Though the overlying message is to have a good time and party, I think women take the center stage, and not in a positive way.
Modern pop culture is impregnated with sexism. Sexism is prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex. Women are shown in the form of sexual objects, men play the role of dominators. These images spread false ideas among the younger generation, which are the main audience.
Pop culture absolutely does not disdain to use sexist images and clichés. The female body is its main tool for conveying its message, for promoting the product.
In visual sexism, pop culture uses different levels of patriarchal representations. Some media refer women to the role of a passive housewife, focused on family and everyday life. Others directly call for physical violence against a woman. The most common trick is the use of women as sexual objects, as traps for the consumer’s eye.
The body of a woman in pop culture is basically subordinated to the alienating norms of stereotypical beauty, being the emblem of sexual pleasure or motherhood.
Images in popular culture support and reinforce the idea that a woman’s body is accessible and can be appropriated to anyone who wishes. Often the body of a woman in music videos is not real at all, but is the result of a photoshop. Thus, pop culture dictates and imposes absolutely unrealistic norms of beauty.
Combating sexism is one of the ways to combat the patriarchal foundations of our society, with inequality and oppression. It is necessary to change the ideas and images surrounding us daily, and thereby change our way of thinking and acting. Only a change in thinking will lead to the disappearance of sexism and its manifestations.
Literature and sources
Groshev I.V. Gender images of advertising. Questions of psychology.
Kogan I.L. Gender culturology: the culture of sex and the sex of culture.
Douglas, Susan. Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media. New York: Random House, 1995. Print.
Zeisler, Andi. Feminism and Pop Culture. Berkeley: Seal Press, 2008. Print.