The late twentieth century has become the “’age of the image” in the sense that gender roles has affected the stereotypical representation of men and women. McDermott and Schwartz argued that the gender role journey theory is suited to comprehend how men and women adapt their gender role identities in society (202). At the same time, media has presented a theoretical framework in the manner men traverse from positions of acceptance of the conventional gender roles to feminist activism and gender role supremacy. To be able to have a deeper understanding of the gender role journey over time, it is vital to explore the representation of both men and women in film, advertisements, books and computer games. Gender may refer to masculinity and femininity that is influenced by social and cultural factors. In the 1970s to the 1980s, the conventional perception and representation of men in the media showed manly, brave, bold and macho characters in the person of James Bond and television shows such as Magnum. Such perception was developed after several years as the contemporary representations of male characters emerged. On the other hand, the women are perceived by society as the weaker gender.
– Gender Roles in the 20th Century
In the 1960s, the film James Bond has presented men as manly, fearless and courageous. Towards the 1970s, many action films and spy characters represented by men in the shows such as Dirty Harry. During the 1980s, the male character was presented as valiant, bold, daring and heroic in films such as Die Hard by Bruce Willis, Rambo by Sylvester Stallone and Terminator by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The rugged features of men can be depicted by long hair, denim attire, growing of facial hair or moustache and roughness. Manhood represents dominance, control and violence. The conventional perception of men being conservative in nature has gone beyond the typical symbolism of masculinity. This has created the new concept of metrosexual among men that was developed in the 1990s. It refers to single working men who lived in the city and earning substantial income. The modern symbolism of masculinity showed the feminine side of their character as they became more expressive of their emotions and at the same time took pride on how they look. A male metrosexual is not synonymous to a gay individual, as he becomes an object of desire or a sex object just like females.
However, in the 20th century, the role of the female character in media and entertainment had changed as part of the women empowerment era. The female group “Spice Girls” from United Kingdom started the successful emergence of women in the field of business, art and media. The main stereotype of women is that they are a weaker sex and cannot stand on their own to fight for their principles. Such perception changed in the films such as Erin Brockovich, Legally Blonde and Million Dollar Baby. The concept of women empowerment means that the women learned how to fight for their own rights and to break free from male domination. In the movie “Erin Brockovich”, portrayed by Julia Roberts is about a simple woman who strived hard to win the case against a powerful company so that she can help the victims. This movie has presented the role of Erin as a single mother, who despite of her attractive appearance was underestimated by her colleagues for being incompetent because of the way she looked. After Erin poured all her energy to win the case, she earned the respect that she deserved from the people. This was the same theme in the film “Legally Blonde” wherein the character of Reese Witherspoon initially presented her as a dumb blonde but was able to redeem herself after finishing law school and becoming a lawyer. In the movie “Million Dollar Baby” portrayed by Hillary Swank presented changed the role of women to a female action hero. The stereotype of woman who has been regarded as sex object has transformed to become an action hero in her own right. This means that there has been a conjunction between the previous insight of women who were considered as merely sex objects was able to reinforce their rights, and at the same to preserved their sex appeal to their audience. The female character was shown to possess masculine traits by having the ability to handle violence using weapons. The glamorous trait of women was replaced by the strength they exhibit using weapons to fight for their lives. At present, women are still used as models for print and media advertisement to sell more products.
– Stereotypes of Men
The main stereotypes of men include an action hero, big shot, strong silent type, the jock and metrosexual (Person, Bricklen and Gotlieb 165). As an action hero, man is perceived as one with a strong character, aggressive, angry and often engages in violent behavior. On the other hand, the big shot perception of men is described through his professional status as he achieves success and revered by society. Men are usually pictured as economically dominant and socially flourishing (Person et al., 166). Men who are of strong and resilient type subjugates the female gender and are usually in control of their emotions. They do not show any trace of emotion to avoid showing weakness and disadvantage. Men as the jock type will compromise his well-being to fight with other men when the need arises. This character is aggressive and shows dominance and power as a jock to gain the approval of other men and the admiration of females (Person et al., 166). On the other hand, the modern perception of men in the 1990s has been transformed to a metrosexual by presenting men with sleek and smooth features, short hair, clean cut, wears fashionable clothes and exposed to cosmetics and grooming products. This modernized concept of men has shown their softer side, gentle and caring qualities. The metrosexual guy is one who has been changed to a sexual object and often seen in print and media advertisement.
– Stereotypes of Women
On the other hand, the traditional women have narrow representation in media as they are associated in domestic field as housewives and mothers. This nurturing role of women has a two-fold purpose that covers: 1.) on the economic production by working as men’s assistant; and
2.) on the burden in managing the family and the home (Bell 2). Thus, the essence of a woman mainly revolved on bearing and rearing children. At the same time, the female gender is man’s attendant and helper. Women are symbolized as sex objects. One of the famous female objects that had become the fantasy of men is the character of Marilyn Monroe. There are many films in the past that presented women performing in musical numbers where they are being flaunted as showgirls. The women who starred in old movies and were displayed as erotic objects are the typical characters given to them (Buikema and Smelik 15). The traditional films flaunted women and their body parts to expose them as iconic objects. In this manner, the women’s body parts were shot on camera in that revealed various angles of their bodies, instead of focusing on whole personality of the female character.
V. Difference between male and female gender
The main difference between the male character and female character is that men were not originally presented as sex objects in movies since it is the women who had to appear enticing onscreen. As opposed to the male character, they are traditionally presented as heroes who are powerful, strong and can rise above all adversities. Media has strengthened the concept of men being protagonists in movies, while the women’s role showcased themselves as sex objects onscreen. The chauvinist trait of the male character in movies portrays the role of lusting for attractive female character regarded as a sexual object. Therefore, the female character is one that brings pleasure to men. The image of a woman onscreen is shattered because she is being stripped off dignity and respect for being a mere object of desire for men. Conventional films showed the neurotic desires of male action heroes for sensual female partners (Buikema and Smelik 69). The sexual variation between the male and female character reveals voyeurism of visual pleasure in traditional cinematography (Buikema and Smelik 69). Clearly, it has been shown that there has been gender inequality between the male and female characters in the traditional films.
With the emergence of law that protects the rights of women, the new discernment of the female character was changed to become unconventional and unafraid of the limitations imposed by society. The female character is envisioned as full of pride and sincere perception of evaluating the social conduct and intention of society. Liberal feminism creates a moral vision of woman who knows what she wants, how to get it and being able to defend herself from an impending harm. The traditional view on women has changed over time as they are provided with the same right, benefits and obligations imposed. Therefore, at present time men and women are considered as co-equals. The perception of women in the sexual context is considered as violation of women’s rights but is also a form of expressing themselves. With the rise of democracy in the 20th century, men and women should regard themselves to be equally intelligent, sensitive and powerful decisions. This is a breakaway from the sexist sayings that only men should be considered as heroes. The feminist films theory promotes equality of sexes since women are capable to perform the tasks of men. Women should not only be considered as sexual objects in media to entice audience by showing voyeuristic pleasure and narcissism since women and men share the same skills, knowledge and talents. Therefore, society should recognize the value of the female character in television shows, films, and advertisements. It is recommended that media should remove the false images of women in the field of advertising and the creation of quality films that show the female protagonists. In conclusion, the new millennium had showed the audience that female heroines can exhibit positive traits of the female gender to foster empowerment and promote their self-worth.
– Pictures of Female and Male Genders Roles
1. The late twentieth century has become the “’age of the image” in the sense that gender roles has affected the stereotypical representation of men and women.
2. The gender role journey theory is suited to comprehend how men and women adapt their gender role identities in society.
1. Media has played an important role in the stereotyping of genders roles of both men and women in society.
2. The gender theories referring to masculinity and femininity had been strongly influenced by social and cultural factors.
A. The male gender is perceived to be the stronger gender.
1. Media has stereotyped men as stronger gender based on their appearance and demeanor.
2. Supporting Ideas
a. In the 1960s, the film James Bond has presented men as manly, fearless and courageous. b. Towards the 1970s, many action films and spy characters represented by men in the shows such as Dirty Harry.
c. During the 1980s, the male character was presented as valiant, bold, daring and heroic in films such as Die Hard by Bruce Willis, Rambo by Sylvester Stallone and Terminator by Arnold Schwarzenegger
3. The rugged features of men can be depicted by long hair, denim attire, growing of facial hair or moustache and roughness. Manhood represents dominance, control and violence.
1. Media has presented women as man’s helper or assistant based on the roles that they play in films and advertisements.
2. Women are symbolized as sex objects. Supporting Ideas
a. One of the famous female objects that had become the fantasy of men is the character of Marilyn Monroe.
b. There are many films in the past that presented women performing in musical numbers where they are being flaunted as showgirls.
c. The women who starred in old movies and were displayed as erotic objects are the typical characters given to them
3. Media has presented traditional women a narrow symbolism of sex objects, housewives and mothers who attend to the family.
A. Women should not only be considered as sexual objects in media to entice audience by showing voyeuristic pleasure and narcissism since women and men share the same skills, knowledge and talents.
B. Men and women should be presented in media as two genders who have equal skills, intelligence, capabilities and talents which can be contributed to achieve a continued success of society.
IV. Works Cited
Bell, Susan G. Women: From the Greeks to the French Revolution. California: Stanford Press.
Buikema, Rosemarie and Smelik, Anne. Women’s Studies and Culture: A Feminist Introduction.
New Jersey: Zed Books. 1995. Print.
Dickinson, Sonia and Gill, Donna. “Are women offended by the way they are portrayed in
advertising?” International Journal of Advertising. 28.1 (2009):175-178. Print.
McDermott, Ryon C. and Schwartz, Jonathan P. “Toward a better understanding of emerging
adult men’s gender role journeys: Differences in age, education, race, relationship status,
and sexual orientation.” Psychology of Men & Masculinity. 14.2 (2013): 202-210. Print.
Person, Hara, Bricklen, Carolyn and Gotlieb, Owen. The Gender Gap: A Congregational Guide
for Beginning the Conversation about Men’s Involvement in Synagogue Life. New York:
URJ Press, 2007. Print.
Source of Pictures:
Common Sense Media. Website. Retrieved on August 27, 2013, from
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