Media Gender Stereotypes

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The gender stereotypes portrayed in children’s and adolescences media seem to show less in programming than in advertising. I decided to watch the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon for my Media observations because they hosted such popular shows as Sponge Bob –Square-Pants, iCarly, Hannah Montana, etc. I choose these popular shows for their large audience, and wanted to see what kind of Media the majority of America’s youth was sucking in. Using the social learning theory for gender development I have observed that advertising is more stereotypical in the traditional views of what boys and girls should be interested. They constantly show girls being domesticated and crafty, while boys are more physical and outdoorsy, and even violent. The programming that I observed for this demographic seems to have taken those stereotypes and blurred them for today’s more mixed generation.The social learning approach consists of two major points that influence gender develeopment: 1) direct and indirect reinforcement 2) observational learning (Cook & Cook 367).

A father who found out he is to have a son might go out and buy some legos, toy cars, even a glove and baseball bat, because this is the sort of enthusiasm that new parents often exhibit. Such parents are promoting indirect reinforcement to their children by limiting the gender type toys they play with. This vs. verbal praise of stereotypical behavior in “emotions and activity preferences” is known as direct reinforcement. A father who tells his son to toughen up and be a man, might on the other hand encourage his daughter to express her emotions with words or even through craft. Most adults have come to accept these stereotypes and almost view them as fact and prove so when phrases like “boys are stronger, or men don’t cry” are repeated to the youth world wide. But from a child’s perspective when a parent is teaching them to be fair in almost every other aspect of life why do we stop at gender and segregate boys and...
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