Gender socialization has been portrayed on television shows for many, many years. Gender messages are so common that we often do not even realize that it is happening. Henslin (2009) explains gender as, “the attitudes and behaviors that are expected of us because we are a male or a female” (p. 76). In television, these gender messages start as early as toddler cartoons, to high school sit coms, and all the way to soap operas geared towards an older crowd.
I have watched the television show Sons of Anarchy for many years and gender socialization is very evident in every episode. The majority of every episode involves a motorcycle gang, causing the show to be very male oriented. They are a very respected group due to them having the persona of a motorcycle rider who carries guns and is not afraid to stand up and fight for their fellow riders or family members. Regardless of some of the men being married it is an all male club, and the wives are not considered members. The women are given the typical female role and go to work and stay at home taking care of the children. If ever their is a serious problem with a rival motorcycle gang the men ship their wives and children off to a hotel or somewhere safe and the men stick around and protect their club house and their families knowing they are somewhere safe.
They do not allow women into the club because they do not think that they would be able to protect themselves. The men do not think that it is appropriate for the women to be in the middle of all of the fighting and the drug trafficking. They want them at home with the kids where they know that their family is out of the immediate danger. In this particular show the women are expected not to stray from their role while the men are free to do whatever they want or need.
Another popular show that I have recently started watching is Revolution. This is the first season and in the first episode their is a world wide black out and they are showing how one area of the United States is functioning fifteen years later, still without power. There are big examples of how males and females are being portrayed differently as well as similarly. In the beginning they show the women home schooling the children while the men are out hunting for food. However their is one girl that likes to go out hunting but rarely comes home with anything that they can eat.
Later on in the show, two females and a male end up leaving the small community to go find one of their members that got taken away. They head to Chicago to find a guy that is supposed to help them get their missing member back. At first he does not agree to help them because he thinks it is too dangerous for their female to be trying to fight anyone. Shortly thereafter they all get into a brawl with a group of people and the girls prove that they can hold their own. He agrees to go with them but still questions what she can do.
At the beginning of the episode the gender socialization is completely obvious with the females doing a set of jobs and the males doing the hunting and fighting. The more the season is progressing the more the females enter the male role as well. I think that the further the season gets, the more the females will be forced into roles that are not considered typical female roles. I think having females in these different roles on television sends a good message to people watching. Yes it is good to keep women out of danger and away from certain things, however it is also good not to shelter them so much that when they are put in a situation not intended for females, they are not completely helpless.
Henslin, J. (2009) Essentials of Sociology: A down-to-earth approach (8th ed). New York:
Allyn and Bacon.