Women and Girls

Simone de Beauvoir said “One is not born a woman, but becomes one.” This section analyzes how various media contribute to creating an ideal femininity and how we buy into it.

Men and Masculinity

Despite the fact that men are the most frequent protagonists in all forms of media, we sometimes have trouble defining what exactly makes a man. In this section, we explore how masculinity and maleness are constructed by the media.

No one would deny that the mass media is big business. According to the American Motion Picture Association, the Hollywood box office alone pulled in $41.1 billion USD in 2018 and that doesn’t include home entertainment services.[i] Media executives argue that the economics of the industry make it impossible to avoid stereotypes of women, but the numbers show that isn’t true.

The pressure put on teens through ads, television, film and new media to be sexually attractive—and sexually active—is profound. Not only that, but media representations of relationships often teach unhealthy lessons.

This section addresses the representation of men and masculinity in the media. It covers topics such as media stereotypes of masculinity, how children see masculinity portrayed in media, how various media contribute to stereotypes of masculinity, and male authority in media news coverage, and it addresses the role that the media play in shaping attitudes about masculinity.

In 2017, a research group discovered that what boys are seeing in the media and what they actually believe are vastly different.[i]

Sports media also contributes to the construction of masculinity in contemporary society.

Advertising is a major source of stereotyped representations of masculinity.

Various media analysts and researchers argue that media portrayals of male characters fall within a range of stereotypes.

We all know the stereotypes—the femme fatale, the supermom, the sex kitten, the nasty corporate climber. Whatever the role, television, film and popular magazines are full of images of women and girls who are typically white, desperately thin, and made up to the hilt—even after leaping tall buildings or thwarting a gang of terrorists.

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