A Study of Media's Influence over Women Identity

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The Turning of a New Leaf: A Study on Media’s Influence Over the Female Identity

Minh Nguyen

Prof. Morrison

Comm 160

December 8, 2010


The media has had a vast effect on the female-perception of identity over the past 50 years. Drawn to this topic by personal experience, we have each found that the media's influence over gender roles and the female identity is evident in our every day lives. Whether in television, advertising, the music industry, press, or pornography, our goal is to bring light to the different avenues used to influence the American-perception of the female identity in regards to beauty, role, and expectation.

Thesis Statement
The media’s influence over the “American female identity” is made evident in the areas of:

Television - Television has been a staple-point of American society since the first TV's hit the market. In the early days of TV we saw women portrayed as the house wives, with shows such as, Leave it to Beaver, and Brady Bunch. Nowadays we have shows like Cougar Town, 16 and Pregnant, and Jersey Shore that show women in a much different light.

Advertising - In the early 1900's the concept of bad breath was developed as a way to sell mouthwash. Our goal as a group will be to show what advertisements communicate in order to tell Women what they should look like, and/or how they should act. We will look into magazine, television, and Internet advertisements.

Music - From Janis Joplin to Katy Perry, women in music have had a strong influence over the female identity. As a group, our goal is to trace the subtle projections of gender roles in music, and the influence it’s had over generations.

Pornography - Pornography in western society has changed over the years in that women are portrayed in different ways than they were 60 years ago. Compared to the 1950’s, where pornography still involved some amount of clothing, women of today’s adult films wear next to nothing if anything at all. This has changed the way that women have viewed their bodies in that women are so objectified in these films that modesty no longer exists. Magazines - Images of female bodies are everywhere. Selling everything from cars to food. Women’s magazines are full of articles urging to lose twenty more pounds so that they will have it all: the perfect marriage, loving children, and a great lift. The high standards made by these magazines impose a harsh reality for women that you need the perfect body.


Social Constructivism - the concept that one’s perception, understanding and acceptance of surroundings is socially constructed (Vygotsky, 1978). Whether in regards to beauty, gender roles or identity, the female identity is at the very least socially influenced, if not constructed.

Sexual Objectification Theory - Sexual objectification occurs when a person is identified by their body or gender and their worth is determined through such boundaries. (Fredrickson, B., 2007). In regards to beauty and the emphasis placed on the female body, the concept of becoming “de-humanized” and objectified comes up frequently in our study.

Representation - the notion of semiotics and representation as ways in which we can deconstruct the regimes of truth communicated to us through ideological apparatuses. (Hall, 1997). The media’s representation of the female identity -no matter how unrealistic- is accepted as reality.

Cultural Identity - Cultural Identity is the particular character of the group communcation system that emerges in the particular situation (Collier, 1997). The evolution and presentation of the female identity is made evident through various mediums, and driven home by choice examples.

Literature Review

There are a few aspects to consider when discussing why women are portrayed in music the way they are. Rap, and rock music plays a large role in the image women are given in society. However important...
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