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Women have been stereotyped in America for centuries. A woman was, and still is, seen as simply an accessory to a man. Throughout history, we can see that women are portrayed as homemakers, not as successful entrepreneurs of part of the elite class(GSDRC et al., Gender and the Media). In the past, society has created a standard for women that, to be frank, is simply unlikely to be accomplished. Society and the media especially have set an unrealistic standard and vision for what a woman should be. Men are seen as overly masculine and expected to be insensitive and tough. Gender in the media is a very real issue in today’s society and deserves attention because it is harming the lives of thousands of young men and women.
There is a clear and definite link between the media and the representation of women. There is no doubt that every form of media today will have some sort of gender stereotypes and generalizations about male and female roles. Stereotypes are false assumptions about people based on traits like race, sex, and age (UN Women). One common stereotype of women is that a woman is the homemaker, the one who cares for the children, cleans, and cooks for the entire family. This stereotype has been around for years, and no longer portrays what the modern woman has become. Not only are women seen as simply housewives with no larger aspirations but they are also greatly sexualized through the media. The idea of the perfect female body has consumed our society and immensely affected the physical and mental health of thousands of women (UN Women). The pressure to conform to unrealistic expectations is not only affecting women but young men as well.
Men are typically stereotyped to be powerful and dominant in society and towards women. Our society’s idea of what a man should be has been blown out of proportion in the past several years. Women are not the only one’s that feel the pressure of having the perfect body. While women feel they have to be thin and perfect, men think they have to be be athletic and physically built to be desirable. Men and women put a lot of strain on themselves to conform to these ridiculously unrealistic expectations (McSweeney, Gender Equality in the Media). Men are shunned or looked down upon if they do not fit these masculine ideals. We have created contests and T.V. shows that support and reward people who follow the stereotypes (Thoman, How to Break the Stereotype). The media tends to demean men in caring or domestic roles, or those who oppose violence (GSDRC et al, Gender and the Media). The most upsetting aspect about these stereotypes is that there is no way of escaping the influence of the media.
In today’s society the media surrounds us everywhere we go. The media broadcasts these expectation through T.V, magazines, movies, ads, social media, and almost every form of entertainment. These portrayals can influence perceptions of what people expect from men and women, and what they expect from themselves (GSDRC et al, Gender and the Media). The media falsely promotes unbalanced visions of male and female roles in society and it is hurting men and women physically and emotionally. The negative influences of the media need to be addressed by the government before it gets even more out of control and further sets unreachable and harmful standards.
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