Week Eight: Gender in the Media

Although this week’s discussions focused on the representation of violence against women in the media, I would like to focus my attention on the representation of gender in the media via television commercials.

 

In 1964, the communication theorist, Marshall McLuhan suggested that  gender stereotypes embedded within the mass media affect societies’ by influencing audience’s opinions, attitudes and beliefs. Even today in many countries, representations of male and female roles within television commercials reflect the traditional perceptions that women are subordinate to men. Wolska (2011) highlights that as a result of such stereotypes, males are used in television commercials to advertise products such as cars, cigarettes and/or business products, whereas females are used to advertise cosmetics and/or domestic products.

Potentially these views are not the same all around the world. For example, currently Sweden ranks as one of the world’s most gender egalitarian countries., and their political and social policies are based on a strong belief that men and women  hold equal power and influence. Interestingly, in February 2014, the Swedish JC Jeans Company, released the ‘Erika Linder for Crocker SS14’ campaign, which features the internationally acclaimed Swedish model Erika, who represents both male and female genders within the campaign, questioning gender stereotypes. The company stated,

“We want this collection to inspire creativity and confidence, as we set out to break new boundaries within the fashion industry.”

 

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This campaign positioned me to consider my own understandings of gender. Although there are issues associated to the over generalised characterisations of ‘male’ and ‘female’ modelling that Erika performs, the campaign does propose a new androgynous way of looking at gender by highlighting that you can be ‘Whatever’ gender you desire. I wonder if such campaigns would spark conflict in the eyes of traditionalists and unsettle the unfortunately large audience who struggle to steer from the stereotyped social expectations of gender.  According to Debra Pryor and Nancy Nelson Knupfer (1997), “If we become aware of the stereotypes and teach critical viewing skills to our children, perhaps we will become informed viewers instead of manipulated consumers.” Moreover, if more commercials, such as the Swedish television advertisement for Crocker’s Erika Linder campaign, become more commonplace, then perhaps gender stereotypes will diminish across the globe.

References

JC Jeans Company (2014) Erika Linder for Crocker SS14 – JC – Jeans Company, http://www.jc.se/inspiration/varumarken/erika-linder-for-crocker-2, accessed 30/04/14.

Pryor, Debra; Knupfer, Nancy Nelson, 1997    Gender Stereotypes and Selling Techniques in Television Advertising: Effects on Society.http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/16/c4/8c.pdf, Accessed on 30/04/14.

Wolska, M 2011, ‘Case Study: Analysis of the Gender Stereotyping Phenomenon in TV Commercials’. Gender Stereotypes in Mass Media, http://krytyka.org/gender-stereotypes-in-mass-media-case-study-analysis-of-the-gender-stereotyping-phenomenon-in-tv-commercials/, accessed on 30/04/14.

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