How would one compare and contrast two news articles covering sexuality/gender roles in society? The news articles should cover the same event, yet present it from two different perspectives. For...

How would one compare and contrast two news articles covering sexuality/gender roles in society? The news articles should cover the same event, yet present it from two different perspectives.

For example, let's say the topic is gender roles as it pertains to raising children. One article would advocate raising our children under society's gender roles. For example, if it's a boy, one article might argue that one should dress him in blue and reinforce his masculinity by having him do "manly things," such as playing with toy cars and action figures. The article may also argue that if it's a girl, one should dress her in pink and reinforce her femininity by having her play with dolls, etc.

The other article would address gender roles from a different angle by emphasizing gender neutrality.  In this case, they would advocate raising children in gender-less roles. This means that one lets the kid be who he wants to be. If one's son wants to play with dolls or dress in pink, one  should let him do that and vice versa. 

Expert Answers
Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While the educators of eNotes won't write essays or complete assignments for students, we can certainly give you advice on how to write your essay or complete your assignment. The directions to your assignment certainly sound a bit confusing and complex if you were indeed assigned to compare two hard news articles as opposed to two editorial or opinion pieces. The examples you provide would actually be found only in opinion-based articles, so perhaps you can do either news or opinion? So, let's go into advice for looking into both hard news and editorials.

If you do indeed need to compare gender roles portrayed in two hard news stories, then what you would be looking for is a news event in which gender roles might emerge but are not directly discussed. Lots of different issues are coming out in news events these days that can shed light on current gender roles, such as gay rights, research on current stay-at-home parenting trends, even news stories on bullying may shed light on gender roles as they may expose how different genders have responded to such situations. One more specific suggestion could be looking into current disease epidemics and their relation to parents' decisions either to or not to vaccinate children. While such hard news stories will not specifically state any gender roles that tie into such epidemics and such decisions, they will shed light on parenting decisions, which will in turn shed light on current gender role trends. For example, if we look at the article titled "California Declares Whooping Cough Epidemic" written by Jen Christensen and published on CNN, June 16, 2014, you'll see that Christensen reports California's health department as strongly recommending that all individuals, even adults, ensure that their vaccinations are up to date, "especially if they're pregnant." The mere reference to pregnancy suggests that it is the mother's role to ensure that children and even adults are vaccinated to prevent the spread of diseases. However, vaccinations are stirring up a great deal of controversy these days because it has been strongly suggested that vaccinations could be tied to the current autism epidemic as well, so many parents are refusing vaccinations. Therefore, any article discussing the fact that many parents are refusing vaccinations will provide the antithetical argument you need for your comparison and contrast. What is also interesting is that while Christensen's article links the outbreak to declines in children receiving vaccinations, the article titled "Docs Look for Clues to Whooping Cough Epidemic," written by Liz Szabo and published in USA Today, June 19, 2014, reports that some doctors think the epidemic is not due to lack of vaccinations but rather due to the fact that the current vaccine may actually not be effective enough. Hence, while both suggest that women have the gender role to fulfill of seeing to vaccinations, Szabo's news article says that failure to fulfill such a role is not necessarily responsible for the current epidemic, leaving a bit of wiggle room for arguing exactly what women's gender role is in seeing to vaccinations.

Now let's look at the types of articles you would be looking into and the types of things you would be thinking about if you are permitted to use editorials, like your examples portray, and not just hard news stories. This assignment will be much easier to fulfill if you are allowed to use editorials, but it's certainly not impossible with just hard news stories, as shown above. One example of an editorial would be "The Battle Over Vaccinating Grandparents" by Kim Conte, published in The New York Times on June 29, 2014. In her editorial, Conte discusses the decisions she made during her recent pregnancy due to her midwife's advice with respect to getting the whooping cough vaccination. She particularly told all adults in her family who would be handling the new baby to get the vaccine renewed, and all complied but her father. Finally, she had to resort to giving him the ultimatum that either he got the vaccine renewed or he didn't come near the new baby. Her editorial clearly portrays what she perceived as her gender role to protect the health of her baby. In contrast, the editorial shows her father as portraying through his actions his gender role of male dominance and independence. You can easily find many other editorials on the same topic to contrast these gender roles.

To find articles, start out by simply doing a key word search in a newspaper's archive. For example, if you go the website of The New York Times, you'll see a search box. In that search box, you can type in any search term to pull up all articles on that topic in the archive dating back many, many years. You could search for any topic named above that may shed light on current gender roles, such as gay rights, current stay-at-home parenting trends, bullying, or anything else you think of. If you need hard news stories only, you can use topics referred to in the editorials to then do a search for hard news stories. For example, once I found the editorial discussed in The New York Times, I then did a Google search using the key word term "whooping cough epidemic 2014" and easily found both hard news stories in CNN and USA Today.

To complete your assignment, you'll also want to gain a thorough understanding of exactly how to write a comparison and contrast essay. The most important element in a comparison/contrast essay is the thesis statement. You want to be sure that your thesis states the argument you are laying out through your comparison and contrast. Be sure not to simply compare and contrast points; there must be an underlying reason for your comparison and contrast, some overall point or claim you are trying to make. The next important factor in a comparison/contrast essay is the organizational structure. There are  several different organizational structures to choose from and those are discussed in detail in the source provided below. But the key to a strong, well-organized comparison/contrast essay is balance, talking about all points evenly.