Advertisements and Their Affect on Gender Roles

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Advertisements and their Affect on Gender Roles

Gender is defined as the behavioral, cultural or psychological traits typically associated with one’s sex. But how are these traits decided and perpetuated? Children aged two to five years old see an average of 22,228 commercials on television. Bu the time a person is 40 years old, they’ve seen up to one million commercials. Psychologists believe we learn gender traits through social learning; through observing others and then modeling their behavior. If this is so, then T.V. ads play a large part in transmitting messages about gender norms in our society. Children, especially, are influenced by this type of social learning. Adults, however, also continue to observe and model others and then modify their behavior of gender norms accordingly as they compare themselves to others.

Commercials contain content of cultural notions about gender – real and imagined – or over stated. They establish what is the norm for gender. The ads may affect the way people perceive their own gender identity and also perpetuate pre-conceived ideas about it.

Ads, of course, are used to sell certain products. But they also send messages about the proper way to behave. If gender roles in ads are believable and realistic to an individual, then the person’s ideas about the correct way of “doing gender” (West and Zimmerman, 1987) for themselves and other genders may be changed.

T.V. ads are ubiquities; they sell everything from products to politics, with some ads even becoming ingrained in our pop culture. With 98% of Americans owning televisions, we cannot refute the influence of these advertisements on social aspects such as gender. Commercials, however, don’t always reflect reality and often show stereotypical behavior. Look at the facts. As of 2003, men outnumbered women in all aspects of television commercials. 54% of the main roles in ads were dominated by men. (Scharver, Kim, Lim and Liu, 2006). Male voices off screen...
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