Introduction: From early television sitcoms such as “I Love Lucy” to modern day movies like “The Ugly Truth,” television continues to sustain gender role stereotypes because it reflects dominant social values.
I. How many of you are familiar with the movie Mulan? And the song “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.” It portrays in one song, stereotypical gender roles of both men and women. The men are told they need to step it up and be tough and show their strength. While the men in the song sing about how they just want a woman who is beautiful and can cook and will “adore their battle scars.”
A. Gender Roles in Children’s Media
1) The roles of men and women are even seen in children’s movies. Britain, in a recent study found that in television shows 70-85% (generally) of the characters are male and portray the ideals of men active, aggressive, rational and discontented, and the women in the shows carried about typical representations of occupational roles or that of nurses and talking on the phone, reading and helping with the housework.
2) A study done in 1975, which professionals still refer to as accurate, consisted of “forty boys and forty girls, sampled at four age levels: 4-6, 8, 10, 12 years of age. Their viewing time was measured, and then the children were administered the ‘it’ scale. This is where the child is given a drawing of a stick figure (it), before being asked to select what objects ‘it’ would prefer, from a host of pictures of objects which have associations with stereotyped sex roles.” The study suggested that the more television that children view, is directly related to the child’s view of gender roles.
3) According to Kevin Durkin’s book “Television, Sex Roles and Children” there is evidence showing that girls ages 8-12 tend to find a male newscaster more believable than a woman newscaster.
(Transition/signpost): Gender roles are not biologically determined and vary depending on the culture. Gender roles may even change for an individual during the course of their life.
II. Media in Advertising and Non-Children’s Media
1. In many ads women are told that their bodies are their best assets. They are a tool. “Ads within this category reflect the concepts of the Only the Body trope, namely, that a woman has only her body to offer.” (genderads.com). There is a current women’s perfume ad in which it says “Apply to your neck, so he can smell the scent as you shake your head no.” In advertisements, men are portrayed as “symbolic capital, intelligence and power” (www.genderads.com) until they are placed into the role that a woman typically portrays, and that time, the men are shown to be weak and stupid and helpless.
2. There was a television show in the 1980’s that drastically flip-flopped the gender roles traditionally seen on TV. The show “Who’s the Boss?” is about former baseball player Tony, who takes a job as live-in house keeper to career woman Angela Bower. Through the flipping of the gender roles, this show depicts that once the roles are reversed in a life has a hard to continuing “to go on as normal.” Angela’s son is shy, lacks self-esteem and in one episode starts listing off every country in the world to a school authority figure, to which the principal replies that he needs to “go play sports and stop reading books.” And in many episodes, the dysfunctionality of the household is blamed on the fact that the man stays home and does all the chores while the woman is out in the workforce.
Transition: I want you to ask yourselves. How much of an impact does the media play in your daily life and how you view you role in society? It’s interesting to think, that willingness to be vulnerable is viewed as emotionality in women and weakness in men. So society has turned not only gender roles, but the basic core values of human relationships has been overturned. Jesus we saw a focus on relationships and a constant sacrifice of his pride and needs for others. why can’t society seem to do the same?
III. Clearly the media has it’s own agenda. It has created a downward spiral that just keeps repeating itself over and over and over again. And with each revolution that the cycle makes the roles of men and women get more twisted and discomforting to all who are exposed to the media stereotypes.
Close: I’m not saying we can’t get entertainment from Disney films or get a laugh from movies such as “The Ugly Truth.” I happen to love all the Disney princess movies and “I Love Lucy” is my favorite show. However, we must be able to separate what the media and society is trying to tell us that truth is, from what is the truth. Regardless of whether or not someone is a Christian, the individual needs to be able realize that men and women are more than just sex symbols and stereotypes.