The roles of men and women in society have always been different to a large degree, and it would seem that women’s movement would change the way women were treated in society, but television and media brought about new problems that are evident in the modern day and age.
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For the longest time, women were treated as subordinate to men and had no rights.
After a long fight, women finally acquired the same rights as men in the civilized world but the technological revolution, media and particularly television, have created another aspect where women can be segregated and mistreated.
The social roles that men and women have been much different. Men are thought to be more masculine and rough. They have an image of the aggressor and the strong dominant character that is meant to rule and wage wars.
This is sometimes, attributed to the biological bases of men as hunters. Women, on the other hand, are treated in a feminine, gentle and caring way.
They are thought of as stay-at-home wives who will raise children, take care of their husband and participate in more sensual and emotional aspects of life.
These views have dominated for much of human history, and television became another outlet where women can be unfairly exploited, but the situation is slowly starting to change for the better.
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As humanity evolves, so do its views on sexuality and images permitted on the television screen. People’s norms became more liberal and things that are shown on TV today would not be even closely appropriate thirty or twenty years ago.
In general terms, women are portrayed as weaker, needing protection from men, especially in the movies. In the context of sexuality, in music videos and films, women are shown sexually free and looking for a quick relationship.
According to Linda Holtzman, women are represented as searching for a close relationship 35 percent of the time, comparing to men at 20 percent (Holtzman, 2000). In commercials, women are shown to advertise makeup with extreme importance to their appearance and thinness.
All these representations and portrayals create an image that women are mere objects, and it sends a drastically wrong message to society and the young generation.
Young girls view these images as the norm which is most desired by men and often, go through hard times in trying to reach a certain non-existent standard of beauty. The way men are shown on television is much different.
Advertisements depict bachelors who are throwing money around, being independent and looking for women. Sexual freedom and absence of a romantic relationship are reinforced, as romantic ties are unwanted.
Very often men are heroes, strong and indestructible types who do not care for how they look or what they say or think. Also, advertisements have been aligning men to their careers and hobbies instead of to their appearance (Ross, 2010).
This also creates a wrong image within the society where children think that men are wild animals who must involve themselves in violence, criminal activity and generally dangerous, “rock-star” behavior.
The social norms have had a great influence on the way people demand movies and general television to be. No one wants to see muscle-bound women with a cigarette or guns, slapping people around, as this would not be feminine (Casey, 2008). But where do these standards come from?
The most obvious explanation is the historical dominance of men and activities that they were engaged in. People got used to seeing men in such roles and thus, think it is acceptable. For women to behave in a way that people are not used to, would mean to overstep the gender boundaries.
Even though stereotypes are still very popular in human culture, recent times have seen some changes between gender roles and many things have become similar in the representation of men and women.
There are several cosmetic products that are now made for men, such as make-up, skin nourishing crèmes and hair coloring products (Holtzman, 2000). The separation between gender portrayals is becoming more transparent, as women are taking on more professions in society.
Now, in movies, women are shown to be soldiers, steel workers, mechanics, as well as superheroes, criminals, vigilantes, and other women abusers. The public demands are being heard, and the movie producers start to include women in roles previously dominated by men.
At the same time, men are shown as stay-at-home fathers, taking care of children, cooking with an apron on and cleaning the house.
A more sensitive side of men emerges in acting roles, advertisements and social professions. The society is slowly becoming used to the need to change its prejudiced opinions.
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The modern world has seen many new social attributes, and the merging of feminine and masculine roles is one of them. It is evident that people are used to seeing things that were considered strange before, but no one can predict how far this change will go.
Casey, B. (2008). Television studies: the key concepts. New York, United States: Routledge.
Holtzman, L. (2000). Media messages. Armonk, United States: M.E. Sharpe.
Ross, K. (2010). Gendered media: Women, men, and identity politics. Maryland, United States: Rowman & Littlefield.