Do you remember in high school when stereotypes were like a stench lingering through the hallways? There were always the jocks, the nerds, the mean girls, and then everyone else. Well, it is kind of like that in the media too, believe it or not.
Gender roles play a huge part in the media. They are deeply rooted from stereotypes from back in the day. In the past, men were the financially secure, independent, assertive, and career focused partners, while the women were responsible for the housework and raising the children. Nowadays, women have more of an opportunity to work and are much like men, very career focused as well. According to Krytyka.org, “Women’s liberation movement fought for the rights of women and for redefining traditional gender roles. They claimed, that there should be no distinction between typical masculine and feminine occupations, and that traits of character should not be ascribed once and for all to one gender.” Although men and women are still not necessarily equal in our society, the differences are not so vast anymore. However, mass media still uses gender stereotypes because media plays such a large role in creating social norms.
Since we were children, we have been manipulated into our gender roles. Whether it’s through advertisements, television or movies, we have been persuaded to buy little girls easy-bake ovens and then buy little boys action figures. The push to have a certain gender role is all around us and we may not even recognize it when we turn on our favorite TV show.
In the past, males usually conquered our movie and TV screens and there were nearly no glimpses of a working woman. For example, in earlier seasons of the show, “The Big Bang Theory,” has only one present woman as a lead character by the name of Penny. Penny’s main role in this sitcom is to create sexual tension between her and the main male character, Leonard. Today, the show has developed much more females characters, however, Penny still primarily exits to keep up the romantic tension.
And then there is, “The Office.” In this show, the representation of female characters are much more present. Pam, Meredith, Angela, Phyllis, and Kelly are all strong, working class women and only have shown a few of the “stereotypical” women traits such as being emotional. All in all, this show did an exceptional job portraying these women as more than just their stereotype. The Office helps the media see more accurately see the real world and how it is transforming in the workplace.
Although the media is slowly progressing and becoming more apparent of our societal changes, it will not fully get there until the stereotypes diminish, which may never happen. (Don’t hold your breath.) In conclusion, roles are just, well, roles. It is up to the individual to decide whether or not they are going to fill them. Next time I will touch on personal branding and get into more PR-type discussions. I know this post had almost nothing to do with PR, this is just something to think back on throughout the rest of my blog posts. I hope you enjoyed and found interest in it as well!