In recent times, people are increasingly putting their trust in media and especially the television more than ever before. The media has become a common playfield where political, social, and financial information is relayed to people. Naturally, children tend to remember what they see more than what they hear. On the other hand, television commercials can be very expensive but reliable due to their ability to reinforce images with sound.
This makes firms that want their products and services advertised rely more on television. Images in this case will readily appeal to both children and adults while at the same time deliver the intended message. Other than promoting products and services meant for children, the images in cartoons and the commercials that accompany them tend to subtly promote and shape certain gender roles as discussed here under.
Gender roles depicted by cartoon characters do not indicate an instance where roles played by men and women overlap. It is evident that the non factual information conveyed to children through cartoons is meant to help them understand the world they are living in. This information is often stereotypical and it makes it possible for advertisers to associate their products and services with certain gender oriented stereotypical characters (Lindsey, 1994, 44).
Male characters are in both cartoons (Dexter and Ben Ten) are depicted to play major roles while female characters hold lesser or no roles. In both cartoons, it is quite difficult to identify a character performing cross-gender activities. The roles played by boys differ from those played by girls in that girls are portrayed as attending to household duties and making each others hair while boys are involved more in outdoor activities that are much rigorous.
Closer looks at most of the commercials that take place in between the cartoon shows reveal a certain trend. Women are shown to be the principle characters when it comes to advertising indoor products while men tend to advertise products for outdoor use only. These commercials mostly depict women as end users while men are shown to be the producers. Women are also associated more with the role of being a wife or mother while men tend to be holders of high end jobs.
The number of males in both cartoons is hire than the number of females not forgetting to mention that boys are portrayed as being smarter and stronger than girls. This is symbolic of a male dominated society. Advertisers take into account such stereotypes when determining the kind of advert that would most likely appeal to girls when promoting girls products and vice versa (Rook, 2005, 55).
For instance, for food related advertisements, the number of boys seemed to be larger than that of girls. Other advertisements that dealt with non food products had the tendency of being dominated more by female characters. This is a direct suggestion that girls ought to eat less compared to boys. This can be used to explain the roots of the dieting culture among females (Frost, 2001, 97).
The foregoing gender based stereotypes indicate the difference in roles played by men and women in television commercials. These commercials also tend to put emphasis on the beliefs that adults have concerning feminine and masculine attributes. Cartoons and the accompanying commercials act as powerful agents of socialization by promoting certain roles played by men and women to children whose belief and value systems is easily influenced.
Frost, Leah. Young Women and the Body: A Feminist Sociology. New York: Palgrave, 2001. Print.
Lindsey, Lillian. Gender Roles: A Sociological Perspective, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1994. Print.
Rook, David. The Ritual Dimension of Consumer Behavior, New York: Rutledge, 2005. Print.