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Presentation on theme: "POPULAR CULTURE & THE MEDIA A WOMEN’S STUDIES PERSPECTIVE."— Presentation transcript:


2  Popular culture is the entirety of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are preferred by an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture; especially western culture  Connecting Pop Culture to Sociology:  According to reflection hypothesis, the media only gives the public what it expects, wants or demands  Media content mirrors the behaviors, relationships, values and norms which are most prevalent in society  Symbolic annihilation refers to the media’s traditional ignoring, trivializing or condemning of women and other minorities  This sends the message that they do not matter and their views are unimportant  “if she can see it, she can be it” – Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media WHAT IS POPULAR CULTURE?

3 This is a graph showing the screen time of Avengers characters and the number of toys the characters had depicting them What does this graph tell us? What key idea from the last slide does it represent? CONNECTING POP CULTURE & SOCIOLOGY

4  When considering gender from a media theory perspective, gender representations are a result of a combination of what the media sends and what we make of it, both accepting and resisting different messages  Hegemony theorists argue that media supports the status quo  Others claim that audiences are not just passive receivers but they can reinterpret what they see based on social position and background  Feminism saw pop culture as a construct that was subservient to the desires of the male psyche – essentially a male plot to maintain control over women’s minds and, especially, bodies  Early archetypes were likely “sexualized cheerleaders” or “motherly homemakers”  The sexualization of women’s bodies also paradoxically played a critical role in liberating women from the previous constricting roles – thus controlling the male psyche rather than being controlled by it* Is the sexual display of women’s bodies exploitative or transgressive? PERSPECTIVES & THEORIES ON GENDER IN MEDIA & POPULAR CULTURE

5  An individuals perception of what gender is and how it should be represented (visually and behaviorally) is created and maintained through interactions with peers…within the framework of popular culture  Although the production of most pop culture is done by a few corporations, peers within social networks (not only the online kind) can act as significant others who enforce popular cultures standards of gender  Interpretive communities are consumers of popular culture whose common social identities and cultural backgrounds (nationality, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion or age) inform their shared understandings of culture in patterned and predictable ways How would you view women in media if you were a woman? A man? GENDER AS INTERACTION

6  The male gaze is the idea that women are portrayed in art, advertising and on screen from a man’s point of view – as objects to be looked at Fetishism and commodities take on a new meaning – What is this meaning? THE MALE GAZE

7  Stereotypes are simplistic generalizations about categories of people.  Emerge from dominant groups to affirm dominate ideology (sexism, heteronormativity)  They are not true, may be rooted in a seed of truth and are believed because they are taken for granted as common knowledge  Normalcy in media and pop culture are disproportionately*  White  Male  Upper middle class (affluent)  Relatively young (for women in particular)  Trim and fit  Eurocentric definition of beauty GENERAL REPRESENTATIONS OF GENDER IN MEDIA & POPULAR CULTURE

8  Television is the most important media socializer  Americans spend 33% of their leisure time watching television – this is more than any other leisure activity (socializing with others only comes in at 7%)  Women watch more television than men  Adults watch more television than children  Children spend more time watching television than any other non school activity  Televisions effects  Research suggests television viewing may affect an individual’s self evaluation as well as more general perceptions about gender  Judgments about the content of a programs plausibility is related to viewing frequency.  Heavy viewers tend to judge programs (and gender stereotypes within them) as more realistic than light viewers do GENDER IN TELEVISION

9  Prominent messages in television  Women are less important than men  There are fewer women than men on prime-time television (39% of all major characters are women)  Women's characters are less authoritative (played by women who are younger, less mature than the male characters)*  85% of female prime-time characters are in their twenties and thirties, 12% are in their forties and 22% of male primetime characters are in their forties  These young female characters are typically thin and physically attractive  Generally, males are given more leeway in their appearance. 48% of women on television, compared with 16% of men are thin or very thin GENDER IN TELEVISION

10  Changes in gendered depictions in television  Females are more likely (than before) to work outside the home, be strong and independent women who rely on themselves to solve problems  Males are more likely to be shown as ideal husbands and do their share of housework. They are still less likely to be show doing it vs. women (1-3% of men are depicted doing it, 20-27% women are depicted doing it)  Still the same  Women still are portrayed as being preoccupied with romantic relationships, defined by their marital status or occupation and using romantic charm to get what they want* GENDER IN TELEVISION

11  Lifestyle / Reality Television  It is argued that the denouncement of taste and behavior and heightened accentuation of gendered activity by participants is often central to these programs (bachelor, bachelorette, say yes to the dress, what not to wear)  Humiliation and highlighting of women’s imperfections often occur  What Not to Wear: degradation of participants based on not conforming to gendered expectations of dress and unrealistic beauty requirements represented through popular culture. Degrade woman -> show her how to confirm to beauty expectations through consumption of products -> introduce her as “new and improved” GENDER IN TELEVISION: LIFESTYLE/REALITY

12  Encouragement varies by sport and whether the sport emphasizes grace or power  Women’s in sports  Cosmetic fitness is continually emphasized  Still threats of homophobia and being labeled a lesbian due to athletic participation  Men in sports  Sport images and language often glorify heroic manhood based on being a warrior  Popular culture has all but erased the existence of gay men in sports Who are the lead sports broadcasters on the evening news? Who are the assistant sports broadcasters? GENDER IN TELEVISION: SPORTS & SPORTS BROADCASTING

13  *Includes 12 mixed events in 2004, and 10 in 2008  Fig. 8.1 Number of Summer Olympic Events open to women and men.*

14  In family friendly films, there is only 1 female character for every 3 male characters GENDER IN FILM The avengers: a gendered breakdown of screen time and toy production

15  Female heroes have become more common within certain storylines  Undercover work heightens the career / family tension  Serial-killer profiling relies on heroes’ experiences with violence against women (not a film but consider Olivia Benson in Law & Order: SVU)*  Women tend to remain rookies, work alone and remain incorruptible  Plots  Struggles for power on the job tend to remain dominated by male characters  Detective plots are disproportionately female GENDER IN FILM: COP FILMS

16  Victims  Mostly women or girls  Usually sexual transgressors (inappropriate sexual behavior)  Boys die because of their mistakes  Girls die because they are girls  Males deaths are often quicker and shot further away with less detail  Female deaths are often filmed at close range in more graphic detail and last for a longer period of time  “Final girls” portray strong female characters  Killer  Has questionable masculinity – often with psychological or mother issues, a virgin or sexually inert, can be transvestite or transsexual  Murder by plunging the blade of a knife into a woman is phallic  Viewers  Males are the dominant audience How does the dominant audience of slasher films and methods/types of victims relate to the male gaze? GENDER IN FILM: SLASHER FILMS

17  Represent two contrasting values  Craziness represented by sex, drugs and rebellion  Youthful innocence  Since the 1950s, there has been an increasing obviousness of sexual desire in the action and dialogue of and clothing in teen films  Teen films act as a vehicle for socializing teenagers to the norms and values associated with gender as depicted by popular culture GENDER IN FILM: TEEN MOVIES

18  The industry  Females working behind the camera are associated with films that depict higher percentages of female characters  Studios may feel more comfortable allocating “female-oriented” stories and scripts to female writers and directors thus there are a higher percentage of females in stereotypical female situations GENDER IN FILM: CHILDREN’S FILM


20  Gender representations associated with music and music videos  The straight, hardcore rapper and/or R&B artist vs. Frank Ocean  Male rock stars vs. female rock stars*  Scantly clad background dancers  Objectification of females by male musicians (lyrics and videos)  Some critics suggest that viewers “censor” out the images and lyrics with which they disagree and accept the ones that they believe are positive for women  Others argue that videos show contradictory images of women and sexuality, some of which resist sexist and racist stereotypes and present radical visions of strong women…and some don’t do this at all  Rap and Hip-Hop music  There are debates over hip-hop music for its often misogynist and racist lyrics. Thus while the lyrics may challenge some oppressive dominant ideologies (racism), they affirm other oppressive dominant ideologies (sexism)  For rap music and all music, media executives (mainly male) work as gatekeepers. They are therefore capable of keeping misogynist representations of women but often don’t GENDER IN MUSIC & MUSIC VIDEOS

21  Videogames are male dominated in the consumption and production arenas  Portrayal  In video games, women and girls are largely invisible  When women and girl characters do appear, they are sexualized through their clothing, behavior and body shape (Laura Croft: Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy X2)  Female characters are passive and supporting figures - they are prizes to be won and princesses to be saved  Male characters are active protagonists – they experience and create adventures GENDER IN VIDEO GAMES


23  Research indicates online communication is mitigated by gender and other social factors such as age, income, educational attainment, status and type of message  Online communication mirrors in-person conversation styles  Women’s emails are longer and more detailed  Women use more emotions and intensive adverbs (>.< and really, very)  They are more supportive and agreeable  Men make stronger assertions and use profanity, insults and sarcasm  The internet for sex  Men (56.5%) were more likely than women (35.2%) to surf for sexually explicit materials  Men were more likely to look at pornographic sites and masturbate while women were more likely to engage in cyber-sex with an online partner  Explanation: Women use communication to build social connections and rapport with others wile men use communication more functionally or instrumentally GENDER ONLINE


25  Children and teens  Girls between 12 and 16 are the fastest growing internet users  It is thought that girls in particular may thrive online because they may be more likely to rise to positions of authority than in the physical world (prominent blogger, high number of twitter followers, tons of Facebook friends, highly ranked answers on yahoo answers)  Allows for safe demonstration of technological knowledge (HTML, blog monetization) without stepping outside of gender expectations related to girls being good at navigating technology  Enables a new dimension of bullying, predominately acted out by girls, masked by the computer screen  Enables access to communities promoting harmful ideologies such as anorexia (“thinspiration,” pinterest)  Internet usage incites moral panic, especially for girls, in which girls are viewed as passive users of the internet and readily available to be taken advantage of by predators. This likely stems from societal discomfort around girls using technology GENDER ONLINE

26 How can “thinspiration” ideals represent negative images to women and girls? GENDER ONLINE

27  Newspapers  Seek mass appeal  Most stories written by males, for males, focusing on males or male centered issues  Majority of the staff and owners of major newspapers are men  When women are on staff they tend to seek out males for comment and view males as “experts” in subject areas – like their male counterparts  Women trivialized in the stories that do not focus on them  Female attorney  Petite blonde  Dr. Christensen, wife of…  Feisty grandmother GENDER IN THE WRITTEN WORD

28  Magazines  Seek a targeted audience  Magazines they tend to promote normative representations of their targeted gender  Women -> makeovers -> you are flawed, buy this stuff, improve yourself  Men -> learn and become well versed in finance, business, technology, sports, hobbies and sex  The cult of femininity in which femininity is depicted as narcissistic, self absorbed and concentrated on one’s appearance, occupational success and success in love and relationships, is usually promoted in women’s magazines  A focus on sex is prevalent in adult and teen magazines  Women’s magazines tend to discuss sex in terms of interpersonal relationships; whereas men’s magazines objectify and depersonalize sex GENDER IN THE WRITTEN WORD

29 Why do you think most women are freelancers? What about most men being analysts? GENDER IN THE WRITTEN WORD

30  The average American sees more than 37,000 ads on TV per year *  Advertisements are met to sell products associated with a lifestyle and thus sell the lifestyle  “Advertisers portray an image that represents the interpretation of those cultural values which are profitable to propagate”*  For men the message is to buy a particular product to get the “sweet, young thing” associated with it, for women buy the product in order to be the “sweet, young thing”  Sexism in Advertising  Subtle: models poses  Stereotypes  Women: decorative, youthful  Lolita syndrome: advertising’s increasing use of children, especially girls in sexually exploitative ways ADVERTISING & CONSUMERISM

31  The literal text of the ad reads “real women have real curves;” implying that Dove wants to celebrate those curves. The ploy is transparent. The real message is “improve yourself, buy Dove products because they can relate to you and your body”  Contains the Cinderella subtext (regular girl to princess) of making over a regular woman into a Dove model ADVERTISING & CONSUMERISM: DOVE

32  Big White Weddings  Taking husbands last name  Fathers “giving away” daughters at weddings  Plastic Surgery  Individuals (women and men) who may feel like they do not have control in their life will often try to control the one thing they feel like can, their physical image  Consumption as a Method of “Correction”  If you purchase or use these products you will be younger, prettier, happier, more male, more female  Conforming to the photoshopped standard ADVERTISING & CONSUMERISM: BEHAVIOR

33  Because of the prominent spread of American pop culture around the world, many non-western countries are acquiring western gendered stereotypes and beauty standards. WESTERNIZATION & AMERICANIZATION


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