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.

Women professionals and athletes continue to be under-represented in news coverage, and are often stereotypically portrayed when they are included.

They have ads of how you should dress and what you should look like and this and that, and then they say, ‘but respect people for what they choose to be like.’ Okay, so which do we do first?” 

Kelsey, 16, quoted in Girl Talk

Since the 1960s, feminists have argued that “it matters who makes it.” When it comes to the mass media, “who makes it” continues to be men.

Although many concerns remain about how gender represented in media, there are signs that things are changing. Roles for women on television, in particular, have become much more varied and complex in the last decade, ranging from tough and take-charge characters such as Eve in Killing Eve and Arya Stark on Game of Thrones, to more realistic, but still powerful characters such as Dr. Miranda Bailey on Grey’s Anatomy, while a growing number of movies and TV shows are questioning narrow definitions of masculinity.

Families, friends, teachers, and community leaders all play a role in helping boys define what it means to be a man. Mainstream media representations also play a role in reinforcing ideas about what it means to be a “real” man in our society. In most media portrayals, male characters are rewarded for self-control and the control of others, aggression and violence, financial independence, and physical desirability.

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