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How The Media Stereotypes Our Society

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I grew up in a small, rural town in North Carolina. I was 9 years old before I saw a person who wasn’t white, let alone had an opportunity to interact with a person of color. As I grew up, I really was subjected to bias indoctrination by virtually everyone around me. However, I have always been open minded and pride myself in being a critical thinker; so, I really didn’t subscribe to the concepts being pushed on me regarding people of other races. In my adult life, I have worked to become more cultured, and educated about diversity and the people I share my world with. In my late teens I came to some very deep, or so they seemed at the time, revelations. I had never met a person of a different race that embodied any of the stereotypes that I had been exposed to growing up; and I was pretty sure that no one I knew had either. Then in my twenties I began to form the opinion that our media was responsible for the perpetuation of these ideas. During the course of my studies I believe that I have gained far more knowledge that not only supports this theory, but also asserts that our media is responsible for perpetuating all stereotypes, not just those regarding race.

Stereotypes

Race

Stereotypes regarding race are often the most apparent. This is because they are generalization about an entire racial group; and are used to essentially define that race’s culture in regard to a variety of topics such as fashion, music, societal norms, and general behavior. For example, one stereotype regarding Latinos is that they are all hard workers and prefer labor intensive occupations as these jobs are less likely to be picky about immigration status. This is not a representative generalization. As with any stereotype, it is a detrimental error to lump all people of one race into one category because people are by nature diverse.

Orientation

Stereotypes based upon sexual orientation are also fairly obvious. The standard ideas regarding how homosexuals (either gay or lesbian) behave are as equally incorrect as racial stereotypes. Portrayal of lesbians as being “butch” or gays as being effeminate only applies to a portion of the total population; and asserting that a homosexual falls explicitly into a specific description again is not representative of the entire demographic.

Gender

Gender stereotyping is somewhat more covert. The most common gender stereotyping we see in media today is regarding gender roles in the home and the work place. Essentially this presents that men are the more dominant gender, strong and/or powerful; while women are nurturers, homemakers, and more fragile. Although gender equality received a huge push during the sexual revolution, this type of stereotype is exceptionally hard to move away from due to being deeply embedded in our cultural norms and is linked to nature itself.

Sexual

Sexual stereotypes are, like gender stereotypes, somewhat more difficult to spot(Ethical Issues in Mass Media). This is due to the fact that the presentation of this type of stereotype is not as overt as any of the others, and because it is often tied into biological nature. For example, stating the all teenagers are overly eager for sex because of hormones may sound like a valid point due to biological science. However, using this to make a broad generalization about one particular group without more substantial evidence is a stereotype. Additionally, sexual stereotypes tend to hint towards a normalization of sexual activity, such as “everyone needs it sometimes…” and generalizations regarding fashion or actions.

How the Media Perpetuates Stereotypes

Presenting Norms

Media has evolved tremendously over the last 50 years. Movies, television, radio, and social media all present stereotypes to society regularly; and many times, we don’t even realize it. This is because the way that these concepts are presented imply that this is the normal behavior for this group (Tyree, 2011). For example, presenting a group of homosexual men as effeminate, loud, and displaying a certain attitude implies that this is how gay men behave. Similarly, racial stereotypes are presented through choice of fashion, behavior, character backstories, and a list of other points. The presentation of stereotypes as social norms asserts that “this is how a person of this race, gender, orientation should act, dress, behave, etc.” This is a critical part of stereotype perpetuation because it has set an expectation of social behavior to which people inevitably subscribe to.

Lack of Representation

A separate component of stereotype perpetuation is the lack of appropriate representation of minorities in the media. The ‘majority’ is Caucasian; this means that the single largest group in our population is white. Historically, media coverage, scripts, and presentation has been geared towards the majority, and is written and produced by white people (Ethical Issues in Mass Media). This inherently contributes to stereotypes in our media because their own biases get filtered through. Additionally, the concept that the majority is the authority perpetuates stereotypes regarding minority inferiority simply due to the fact that minority authorities are not equally represented in journalism (Owens, 2008). In fact, minorities are often represented as criminals, victims, or as uneducated bystanders; while Caucasians are more likely to bee represented as experts, heroes, and victims of minority crime. This directly leads to irrational fear and stereotyping.

Conclusion

Since completing this lesson, I have observed media more critically regarding stereotyping. I am more aware of various biases and generalizations. I am also more aware of them in my everyday life. I cannot help but think how dramatically media has influenced our perceptions of other people in our world. I have little doubt, now especially, that the responsibility for the continuation of stereotyping in our culture lays directly on our media. As a society we must be more aware of this and commit to enhanced critical thinking regarding even subtle generalization to ensure we do not aid this continuation any further.

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How the Media Stereotypes our Society. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/how-the-media-stereotypes-our-society/
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How the Media Stereotypes our Society. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/how-the-media-stereotypes-our-society/> [Accessed 27 Jun. 2022].
How the Media Stereotypes our Society [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 10 [cited 2022 Jun 27]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/how-the-media-stereotypes-our-society/
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