The Gender Portrayals In Media Media Essay
Gender portrayals in the media are evolving throughout the world. Stereotypes and gender portrayals are made and sometimes create a negative perception of race, social classes and gender roles. In “Two ways a Woman Can Get hurt”, author Jean Kilbourne explains how females are shown sexually (575) and males are shown aggressive most of the time (577). In advertising, images of males and females in the media have had a dramatic effect on individuals and society. In some magazine advertisements, women are shown as sexually aggressive and inferior to men, who are shown as dominant and muscular. In video games, characters are figures in popular culture, especially to the youth. But like the images of males and females in advertising, male characters are more aggressive than their female counterparts while female characters are portrayed as sexualized and sometimes having a mix of sex and aggression. In sports, people compete in physical activities to earn athletic accomplishments and awards. But sometimes in Women sports, there are times when females are looked at more by their attractiveness than their athleticism(for example in tennis, Anna Kournikova has never won a singles title or grand slam, yet she is popular in the media because of her attractiveness and images in magazines and in 2002, she won Espn’s hottest female athlete.)
Gender portrayals in advertising have been around for a long time. In female fashion magazines such as Glamour and Vogue and Male fashion magazines such as GQ and Esquire, there are advertisements that show women and men differently than what the normal female and male look like. In “Sex stereotyping in advertising” authors Alice E. Courtney and Thomas W. Whipple argue that in order to promote a product, women are shown as sex objects while men are shown as strong and dominant because sex sells in America and showing men as aggressive fits their prototype. They also say women in most advertisements are thin and skinny and men are always powerfully built. But when women and men are posed together in advertisements, there are times when women are shown as fragile and weak while the men are still dominant, but somehow the advertisements are still sexual. Renova, a toilet paper brand has a racy ad where a strong muscular man is posing half naked while a thin woman (who is also half naked) is behind him, having her hand in his underwear. This proves that sex sells in society, just by showing skin can appeal the customer into potentially buying the product.
In the virtual world of Video Games, characters are icons in the world of culture, mainly to young children and teens. Similar to the depictions of Males and Females in advertisements, Male characters are mostly crazy and aggressive while female characters are shown either sexualized or sexual and aggressive. In the video game, Tomb Raider, character Lara Croft is an athletic, smart, and attractive archaeologist who explores places around the world, but is more known for her looks. She currently holds a Guinness World Record for “most recognized female game character” and is considered the first sex symbol for female characters in video games. In “Video Game Characters and the Socialization of Gender roles: Young People’s Perceptions Mirror Sexist Media Depictions”. authors Karen Dill and Kathryn Thill had a content analysis of images of characters in video games and gaming magazines that showed eighty three percent of male characters are more likely than female characters (sixty-two percent) to be portrayed as aggressive but Female characters are more likely than male characters to be portrayed as sexualized (60 percent for females opposed to only 1 percent for males) and scantily clad, which is half-clothed, under-clothed, or not wearing no clothes at all (thirty-nine percent versus 1 percent).The majority of people who play video games are male but again in order to sell a product, companies feel that they have to show skin for female character and make the males strong and aggressive to attract a customer. Double standards are shown because the male is always the hero and the female is always the one who is showed sexually powered. Female video game characters are also sometimes portrayed in a negative light in games. Most of them are always half naked, with a sexual attitude. They are also showed sometimes as weak and inferior to men. By doing so, it could affect a young person mind about how they see females and how to approach them and that’s why there is a rating system in video games now. In the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series, which has broken video game sales records each time a new game comes out; women are basically showed as prostitutes and men as criminals and overly aggressive at times. A male character can have sex with a prostitute, then kill her and take his money back and in GTA: Vice City, when a prostitute gets hit by a car, she says “I like it rough”.
In sports, people participate in physical activities that require skill, strategy and commitment. Most of the time, athletes (mainly male) are looked at by their skillset and competiveness. But for female athletes, they are looked more at by how they look than their athleticism and skill. In “Gendered Portrayals of Athletes by the media”, Authors Jennifer Knight and Traci Giuliano says “the narratives of male athletes are free to focus on their athletic accomplishments, whereas the portrayals of female athletes focus on aspects of their femininity, possibly to make these females athletes appear more gender-role consistent.”(220).So instead of their competitiveness in a sport, what they’re wearing is more appealing to viewers (mostly male) and what both authors meant is that female athletes will always have to deal with the fact that they will always be looked at on their provocative looks than on how they played in a match or game because the portrayal of a female is always looked at by their femininity and not how they play the sport.
Gender Portrayals in the media can be a good thing or bad thing, mainly a bad thing because the depictions in the media are shown way differently from what a normal person looks like. In advertisements, females are posed as sex objects while males are posed aggressive and strong. It’s pretty much the same in video games, except video games has its own virtual world and the characters are overly assertive at times. In sports, female athletes are more likely to be commented on their looks than their athleticism.
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