Media stereotypes of women often focus on appearance and intelligence. Traditional stereotypes included passive women who depended on their husbands, brothers and fathers for emotional and financial support. In contrast, women in today’s TV shows are likely to contain a mixture of both male and female characteristics.
Today’s leading women are often sexy and intelligent, on one hand, and tragic and lonely on the other. We are more likely to see the ruthless corporate woman who is attractive and successful in the business world but ill equipped in developing personal relationships.
Some of the portrayals are a step in the right direction in improving the perception of women, as many of today’s heroines are independent, intelligent and successful. However, their emphasis on materialism, sex, beauty and perfection often overshadow positive messages. In addition, mass media depictions of successful women suffering from heartbreak illustrate what happens to women who don’t assume the traditional roles for women.
Stereotypes persist because they maintain the status quo of society and help keep things the same. Stereotypes are of concern because media help citizens make sense of the world around them, especially for depictions of women and people of different backgrounds. Additionally, stereotyping is a social control tool that builds group solidarity and creates an “us versus them” mentality.
The images are a slap in the face to the women who fought so hard years ago for equal rights. These representations have a negative impact on how people view women. As I watch reality shows of women who present themselves negatively, I begin to wonder how many women are actually the way they are portrayed on TV–materialistic, conniving, gold digging, promiscuous, spoiled, ungrateful. I’m sure the men who watch these shows feel the same way. They probably think the shows reaffirm what they believe about women; therefore women can’t be trusted. In addition, girls may begin to emulate these images and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and a step backwards in women’s rights.
Women should demand better portrayals of women by writing about these issues in blogs, etc. They can boycott music, publications, TV shows, and products that denigrate women. They teach their daughters to fight back. They can empower themselves and refuse to accept these portrayals.
- Narratives of Gender and Race (criticalstudiesblog.com)
- Stereotypes in Mass Media Messages (criticalstudiesblog.com)
- two: something that really makes me simultaneously embarrassed and angry. (tashalanche.wordpress.com)
- The Meme World of Stereotypes and Sexuality (genderandrepresentation.wordpress.com)
- Stereotyping and Gender in commercials (comn251massmedia.wordpress.com)