The Influence of TV Advertising on Gender Identity

Topics: Gender role, Gender, Stereotype Pages: 9 (2894 words) Published: May 25, 2005
Television is the industry which most commonly guilty of perpetrating gender roles and stereotypes. Very sharp contrasting stereotyping of gender roles on television can be noticed in commercials and advertisements. Gender stereotypes can also be found in children's TV programs. Television fails to represent the world realistically to its viewers.

Daytime advertisements on television tend to portray men in stereotypical roles of authority and patriarchal dominance, while women are associated with traditional roles of the housewife. Females are shown maintaining the perfect household, with their primary goal being to take care of their husband and or family. Housewives are seen as happy to serve others and to relinquish their spare time and personal needs; all in an effort to insure that their families feel loved and cared for. (Niemi 1997).

Throughout out day time commercials there are never any connotations of single families (Niemi 1997), which in reality being a single parent is a common occurrence. Some advertisements may even play on a women's guilt and insecurities, showing them that by using their product it will help them maintain the perfect household (Niemi 1997). These advertisements tend to be conservative, showing a females existence completely dependent on her family (Niemi 1997). During the day women are completely defined by the services they provide; a clean home, prompt meals and a caretaker (Niemi 1997). Females are never defined by their intellectual skills outside the home (Taflinger 1996). These commercials generally show women in a position of cooking, cleaning, child care and maintaining an attractive appearance (Craig 1992, 209).

Men are portrayed as the primary charter in less than half of these commercials. When they do appear they are shown as a celebrity spokesperson, husband or professional (Craig 1992, 209). These images may be unconscious internalized by women, giving them the mental image of the ideal housewife they should strive to be, often making them feel they are not living up to the standard of a wife and mother (Stephens, Hill, Hanson 1994, 137).

Evening commercials tend to be more heterogeneous, portraying the needs of the working mother struggling to balance her career and family (Craig 1992, 210). Men were more likely to be portrayed as a parent or spouse in settings at home (Craig 1992, 208). These advertisements tend to be cosmetic and household commercials showing women that product X can help them better manage their time at work and home as to never neglect her family (Ruth 1995, 388). Cosmetic commercials show that a working woman can beautify herself in a matter of minutes (Stephens et.all 1994, 137). This also sets forth the negative stereotype that women are not beautiful unless they were makeup (Stephens et.all 1994, 137).

The use of skinny young models in these advertisements also sets forth a view of what the ideal woman should be, a standard most women can not live up to ( Stephens et.all 1994, 137). During prime time men are usually the primary speaking character. This gives rise to the notion that is unconsciously internalized while viewing these commercials, males hold dominant authority(Welch, Huston-Stien, Wright and Plehal 1979, 202). Commercials aired at this time tend to be less offensive because they are dealing with a broader audience that ends to represent both sexes equally( Craig 1992, 210). The goal of advertising at this time is not to offend either sex, henceforth there are less negative stereotypical roles during these advertisement than during the weekend( Craig 1992, 210).

Weekend commercials are typically when women are portrayed as sex objects. Most viewers of weekend television tend to be males, therefore these advertisements are aimed at men. They usually do not show families during the weekend, but when they do it is typically away from home (Craig 1992, 210). Women portrayed in theses commercials are always with men, and...

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4. Coltrane, Scott & Adams, Michelle, "Work-Family Imagery and Gender Stereotypes: Television and the reproduction of difference". Journal of Vocational behaviour, 50, 1997: 323,325.
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6. Niemi, Paula, "Stereotypical images of Mothers in Nappy Advertising". 1997 [online]Available from
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