Gender Roles Represented in the Media

I think it is important to identify what exactly qualifies as sexism in order to more fully understand why I classify the Dr. Pepper 10 ad campaign as sexist. Sexism is defined in the dictionary as:

attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles.

This very basic, yet enlightening definition sheds some light on the trends of advertisements that have been in place for decades. For example, why is it that cleaning supply products are more often advertised showing women using these products? By the same token, why are most beer commercials centered around men? The answer for both questions is because advertisements like these promote and reinforce the stereotyped gender roles of our society. In the most simple term, women are expected to be the ones that clean while men are primarily the beer drinkers of society.

As mentioned in a previous post, the Dr. Pepper 10 ad campaign is sexist towards both men and women. Sexism in the media has a long been a prevalent problem in the feminist cause of gender equality but it also has a much more serious problem for our society. Campaigns like Dr. Pepper 10 promote how each gender should look/act/behave and these ideals are internalized by its audience. They are being taught what is acceptable and expected characteristics and behaviors for their gender and anything/anyone that differs from these stereotyped “norms” are different.

Two different documentaries have been made to show just how influential a role the media plays in defining what is “masculine” and “feminine” and how destructive these messages are to an individual. The first documentary is one in a series that is continually updated to highlight recent advertisements that are damaging to a woman’s psyche.

While Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising’s Image of Women mostly discusses the issue of the media’s portrayal of beauty standards, it does reinforce the message of the media’s influence on women – showing and telling women how they should look and behave and driving many towards dangerous actions in order to achieve these standards imposed by advertisers.

Tough Guise: Violence, Media & the Crisis in Masculinity shows the other perspective of sexism in the media and its impact on the male psyche. It shows how and where men learn what constitutes “being a man” and how masculinity is defined. The video also brings up an interesting and revealing connection between the social construction of masculinity and violence – violence not only involving women, but also other men.

I highly recommend watching these clips of the documentaries and reexamining the sexist messages being presented through the Dr. Pepper 10 campaign. Our society has become so desensitized to destructive, stereotypical, and discriminating ideas and messages that many people aren’t even aware of the media’s constant influence on our psyche. These documentaries (as well as countless others) allow us to observe these messages with new insights and understandings and hopefully open our eyes to the damaging effects these campaigns have on our society.

(You can view the entire Killing Us Softly 4 documentary part 1 here and part 2 here)

(You can view the entire Tough Guise documentary here)


3 thoughts on “Gender Roles Represented in the Media

  1. Interesting videos Casey. I see a lot of similarities with what I am writing about in my blog. I think it is so true that our society has been desensitized to sexism in the media that it’s hard to even notice sometimes. It has become such a staple of our culture that we don’t even realize how we are being influenced.

  2. “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.”–Cindy Crawford. Wow those are powerful words. The occurrence of airbrushing and photoshopping is so prevalent that we hardly notice it anymore. Do you think this has an affect on the self-esteem of models and celebrities? I mean, how difficult is it to face the public when you’re not the perfectly flawless human being they are expecting? I wonder how the public would react to advertisement’s featuring men and women as they are naturally.

  3. Your post was very enlightening. Our society is obsessed categorizing and defining gender roles. It is really interesting how much of an influence advertisements have on spreading and contributing to sexism. There is an element of social responsibility that is unavoidable, when constructing an advertisement.

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