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The portrayal of gender in
advertisements has been a widely debated issue all over the world. A
qualitative study was directed to examine how media and local ads have an
effect on the youth group living in Karachi, Pakistan. The research indicates
that messages in local advertisements are unfair when it comes to gender as they
are highly stereotypical with the roles they establish. Snowball sampling
method was used to interview a total of 6 people, 3 of them being male participants
and 3 females. The interviews were recorded; written down and thematic analysis
was concluded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

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Men are from Mars and
Women are from Venus. The notion established by various writers, directors, physiologists
and advertisers that men and women are different and have different roles in
order to provide persuasive imagery and to develop a strong story. As human
beings we tend to classify other people into groups and most of the times this
classification is done on the foundation of gender as it is the most prominent
thing to the eyes when we interact with someone. As humans we also have a
tendency to generalize and consider all men being alike and all women being
similar, while considering both the genders extremely distinct from one
another. Not only market segmentation is done on the basis of gender but it is
used as an advertising strategy to generate sales and advertise products. This
is why gender studies, gender roles and behavior play a significant role
communication and marketing strategies. Men and women are depicted in extremely
stereotypical roles in advertisements throughout the globe.
There has been distress since the beginning of popular media with how people
are represented in the media, especially on how people from different ages,
gender, ethnic and professional groups are shown in conceivably stereotypical
roles or are underrepresented (Bollinger, 2008; Hazell & Clarke, 2007;
Nina-Pazarzi & Tsangaris, 2008). The portrayal of men and women in
television adverts and commercials have grabbed the most attention of
researchers (Kaufman, 1999).

Katz in his book Advertising and the Construction of Violent
White Masculinity crafts a variation between masculinity, building up that
there are different dissimilarities existing with the prevailing structure being
heterosexual, white and from the middle class. Gender that demonstrate violent behavior
within the patriarchal societies is mostly male. The basic contributor to this
representation of the behavior is the movie industry, as their ‘hero’ or male
leading icons tend to establish this by taking on the dominant form of masculinity.
 According to Katz, the concept of violent
masculinity started during the 1970s, as men wanted to have a certain level of
control over the situations happening around them, they had to deal with the
economic fluctuation, the women’s movement. Strength and violence were the
tools that men of that time began to use in order to attain the manhood. The notion
that violence equals masculinity is strongly connected to advertising in a lot
of ways. The justification for the violence in men is the theory that violence
is biologically inherited in men. Many advertisers use masculine violence in
military and sports ads, as it is believed that the men defending the country
are masculine and the sports men are the winners who represented as manly. Our
society itself supports this ideal form of masculinity. All the male models
used in the ads have huge muscles, as it equals masculinity and in turn,
aggression. These ads feed the idea that men need to continually struggle in
order to enhance their being using their brand, associating t with the heroic
masculinity which includes violence. Therefore, in order to be the hero in real
life, men subconsciously adapt the violent role in real life as that’s what
they are being fed constantly by the media. They make various propositions in which
they sell ideas to be the perfect man, like success can be achieved, be it
getting the girl or winning the race or a fight. Some action can be taken
against these advertisements if we are observant and aware about the affect
they have on the males in a society and how it negatively affects their
lifestyle.

Similarly, the idea that how
one should behave in a particular way according to their gender is engraved in
the minds by the time the a baby is born, girls are given cooking toys and
stuffed teddy bears and are mostly dressed in pink colored dresses. Whereas
boys are directed towards violence as they are given toy guns to play with and
are dressed in blue or other ‘manly’ colors.

This research paper establishes
that traditional societies also tend to shape the minds of females as to how
they are supposed to behave. Women are taught to stay indoors and look after
the family’s needs, whereas men are to go outside and be the breadwinners of
the family. This phenomenon is engraved in our traditional societies even if
they tend to grow postmodern, this concept remains.

 Objectives

1.     
To measure the variances in male and
female’s thoughts regarding the influence of media and advertisements.

2.     
To understand how media establishes gender
roles through the advertisements.

3.     
To envision the diverse messages towards
both the genders in the mainstream media.

4.     
To identify media’s role as a norm setter/
breaker.

Research Methodology

According to this topic,
this paper has been articulated to measure
the views of both males and female students studying at SZABIST, Karachi
Campus, between the ages of 18 to 25 years. Literature review is written on the
information based on published research journals, articles, news items and
other scholarly reports. The primary research has been conducted through focus
groups and interviews. There were 3 male students and 3 female students who participated
in the focused group after giving voluntary consent and the interviews/focus
groups were then transcribed, translated, coded and a thematic analysis was
carried out based on their responses. Complete confidentiality was sustained in
order to attain an un-biased methodology.

 

 

 

Literature Review

One cannot disagree to
the fact that Media has a considerable impact on the life of countless people
throughout the globe. As Kellner (2008) establishes the fact that our moralities
and values that differentiate between the right and wrong are strongly swayed
by the media. Especially in today’s era when we are surrounded with so much
media and consume it on a regular basis, it is something that should be assessed
carefully.

One of the foremost representatives
that stereotype the ways in which both the genders are distinguished is media
(Wood, 1993). The portrayal of women can be classified broadly in two genres,
they are to be represented in traditional roles as mothers and family
caretakers or they are to be represented in an objectifying and sexual manner. As
suggested by Feldman & Brown (1984)
and Woodman (1991), various channels like MTV are a proof that women are presented
as if they existed to please men, fulfil their desires and meet their
fantasies. Men today on our television screens are represented as adventurous
and aggressive with their extreme dominant masculinity, while women are
portrayed as obedient, voiceless submissive wives or daughters (Wood, 1994).
According to Brown & Campbell (1986) men are hardly ever seen occupied in
household chores and are never given the nurturing roles like woman (Doyle,
1989). Whereas women according to Davis (1990) are usually sexualized and are highly
photo-shopped in order to portray the extraordinary perfect woman. The Gender
Schema theory suggests that absorb and learn from their surroundings how they
are supposed to behave, their culture tells them how to behave appropriately,
for instance, girls are supposed to look pretty, be submissive and play indoors
with dolls (Carter, D.B & McCloskey, 1983-1984). While boys are to indulge
in outdoor games and be adventurous. With such a thought, advertisements send
indirect messages to its viewers in order to reinforce the ideas in the minds
of the consumer (Pareles, 1990; Texier, 1990).

Media depicts the roles
of men and women through advertisements, which are viewed throughout the day on
a regular basis. According to Bascow (1992) men have authoritative roles
whereas women are portrayed as someone who has difficulty handling household
work. According to Pierce (1990) all that there is seen in woman’s magazine
issues are articles on how to look good and ways to maintain strong relationships
which establishes that the sole purpose of women is to look after their
appearance and work towards satisfying men in their lives or else they will be
left alone (Rakow, 1992). The abilities that women are encouraged to adapt are
exactly what gets them to becoming victimized. And the abilities that men are
encouraged to adapt is what gets them to be abusive to women. A prevailing
topic that media depicts is the imagery of the perfect woman in the minds of
the viewers. The perfect woman not only looks after the household chores but is
thin with the thigh gap and long legs, has the most clear skin and extraordinary
beauty. This idea of a perfect woman leads to young girls starving themselves
to death and falling into depression as a result of the failure in achieving
the idea of that perfect being, there is starvation with respect to numerous
ladies who battle with their typical physiology and body structure (Spitzack,
1993). With a specific end goal to satisfy and fulfill these social measures of
magnificence which are supported by the media, young girls go to pointless and
now and again perilous degree; undertaking surgeries and undesirable eating regiments
losing their self-esteem along the process of attaining that perfect unrealistic
image.  

 

 

 

 

Research Analysis/Findings

A
focused group session was conducted with a total of 6 respondents who were
interviewed, 3 of them being male participants and 3 female, between the ages
of eighteen to twenty-five years. These respondents are the students of SZAIST
University, Karachi campus. Only after the consent of the participants the
interview/focus groups were directed with the reassurance of privacy being sustained.
Because of less time and space the sample size was of 6 people. A thematic
analysis was passed out and the research findings have been written according
to the themes which came out of the responses. 

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