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Television Advertising and Gender Stereotypes - Essay Example

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Television Advertising and Gender Stereotypes

It should not be surprising then that gender roles are already fully enforced by the time the child leaves for school since daytime television represents the most egregious period for the reproduction of traditional gender stereotypes that coerce a commitment to meeting them from both the impressionable child and, typically, the mother whose influence over the child's developing mind is in conflict with the most entertaining and available substitute for the missing father, the television set.
Television commercials are among the most effective when it comes to media reproduction of the existing gender ideologies by simple virtue of the ubiquity of the set itself. In the United States, for instance, it has been estimated that the percentage of population that has at least one television inside their home is a staggering 98%, and further the average member of these households spend more than the equivalent of one full 24 hour day per week watching television (Coltrone, Adams 325) Throughout the history of television advertising right up to contemporary times, the images that are projected and reinforced in commercials have been unsatisfying at best and demeaning at worst. Invariably, female characters are presented as objects of sexual domination who seem to exist entirely to prepare themselves for the approval of the male. At the same time, male characters are typically portrayed in such a way as to intensify the acceptance of aggressive behavior and the urge to dominate while engaging in every imaginable activity (Ruth 388.) Stereotypes are reinforced with more attention paid toward the gender dependent upon the demographics of the viewing audience, and within these minor recalculation there exists ever more subtle calibrations of the effect. For instance since the beginning of television history the daytime has been devoted to viewing aimed predominantly at females in the form of soap operas, cooking shows and children's cartoons. The demographics have certainly changed over the decades with more women entering the workplace and more men staying at home, but contemporary daytime television is still dominated by soap operas and discussion shows like Oprah Winfrey. As a result the changing lifestyles, often the gender stereotyping becomes so subtle as to be unobserved by casual viewers (Craig 209). Men are most often portrayed as confident and independent while women are generally more passive and less ambitious. This engendering of hidden stereotypes can be as thinly veiled as showing men in suits and a tie acting in a corporate setting while women are shown dressed more casually and hanging out with friends.
Commercials and advertisements offered during the daylight hours have traditionally served the purpose of reinforcing the ideological naturalization that places men firmly into the authoritarian and patriarchal role while strengthening the belief that women should associate femininity with submission (Perse 167). Even on 21st century television commercials women are invariably shown to be primarily interested in household duties and motherly obligations. The role of the housewife and by extension all women is to not only service the male and his ...Show more

Summary

Nancy Chodorow scrutinizes the progression of gender identity and personality and concludes that the development of a child is not fundamentally different whether the child is male or female. She argues that the mother is overwhelmingly the dominant parental figure during the all-important formative phase of the child's first three years of life and it is not until the offspring enters into the Oedipal stage that father begins to enact a much larger role in the child's maturation process (Tuana and Tong 200)…
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Television Advertising and Gender Stereotypes essay example
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