What do you see as the most important effect of the media on society’s attitudes towards femininities and masculinities and why?
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One that I see as important is the propensity media to embed contemporary stereotypes and speak of them as if they have been eternal. For example, off the top of my head, men don't like quiche; men don't like classical music. In fact, it was men who first brought the developments of French cooking and classical music prominently to the fore in society. Another example, women are hot; women are needy. In fact, until recently, women were beautiful and elegant or poised; women were sought after and pursued. The media perpetuates catch phrases and over (a surprisingly brief) time, they become psychological truth and lifestyle.
The media idealization of 'the perfect woman' will always remain as long as there are hair care products and make-up to sell, because let's face it, the advertisers are not going to sell their product nearly as much if they show some poor frazzled real-looking woman. Glamour sells.
I will say, and I think every woman in America would probably agree with me, that I really do appreciate those advertisers, like Dove, who use realistic looking women in their ads. I guess its wishful thinking to hope that more advertisers would clue into the fact that many women would like to see ads with more relatable women in them.
I wonder if the expansion of advertising into new places has served to thin the line between what we perceive as "idealized people advertising products" and "normal people". Could it be that, because we are advertised to so much, our notions of femininity and masculinity are more influenced than they once were by media images and media projections of men and women?
Was there a time when we would have reacted differently to the svelt and airbrushed magazine images of men and women? Would we once have thought that those images were not actually related to "normal life" and "normal people"?
Have we come to believe that we're supposed to look airbrushed even if we're not in a magazine or on a television show?
It's funny to think that the people who actually appear in magazines are probably the least persuaded by the idealization of the human form in the media. They know how much make-up and editing go into the construction of those images. They see the tricks behind the illusions.
Maybe our notions of what is feminine and what is masculine, hypothetically, have been skewed toward a belief in the fantasies we see in ads for shampoo and razors.
I don't think much has changed in regards to the portrayal of women in the media. The only exception would be the reality shows that tend to show different races, ages, economic backgrounds, and weight categories. However, as far as movie leading roles, sitcoms, magazine covers, and even commercials-the standard remains: thin, young, and most often women from a non-minority background.
The media has also blurred the lines on what is feminine and what is masculine. Take for example the make-up ads with Ellen Degeneres as the model. What exactly is this ad saying? Other models such as some of the men in Gentlemen's Quarterly and those who pose for cologne ads do not exactly present the traditional image of "masculinity."
I have to agree with litteacher. The women in the majority of commercials are thin, attractive and (normally) flawless. At the same time, some companies, like Dove, are pulling away from the stick thin models who grace other advertisements. That being said, many shows still portray the historical role of the female and male (although some of the women depicted work, other stereotypes still prevail--crabby women and over-sexed men).
I think that there is definitely a double standard for how men and women are treated in the media. Women are still expected to remain thin and perfectly made up. There is also a double standard of expecting women to have perfect families and successful careers, yet never being away from raising their kids or their careers.
I guess I would say that it is the idea that women need to look a certain way in order to truly be feminine. The portrayal we see is that women have to conform to a certain, generally unattainable body type in order to be attractive to men. This has a huge impact on how we think of femininity.
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