Essay on sexual stereotyping Essay
Essay on sexual stereotyping
I will be looking at sexual stereotyping in two advertisements, which have a young male advertising Star Wars products and a girl advertising a play kitchen. I will look at the differences between the advertisements with the girl and the boy. The advertisements, which I will be studying, are good examples of stereotyping. Stereotyping is when you have a simplistic image of a category of a person, organization, or culture. The idea of a stereotype is generally negative. Stereotypes also broaden to ideas of a person’s class, sexuality, occupation, finance, gender and many other discriminating factors.
For example, a person says that all lawyers are obnoxious, cold-hearted and stubborn. This is a good example of a stereotype, which relates to the occupation of the person. It is a negative stereotype, which brands all lawyers as being emotionless and cold, which is not completely true. The mass media also use stereotyping especially in some advertisements in order to sell products and influence some stereotyping. Sexual stereotyping often causes prejudice between sexes. For example, a man says that all blond girls are bimbos who are thick.
This is a good example of sexual stereotyping. It is naming all girls with blond hair as being thick. Whereas many girls with blond hair are very successful in their careers and there is no scientific proof that the colour of a girl’s hair affects a girl’s intelligence. Also, some soaps, comedies or programmes make blond women look dumb and often refer to them as ‘bimbos’ in order to make things funny and get more viewers. Advertisements or programmes often contain negative images of a sex and often use stereotypes of women.
Many comedies also do this, which helps the ratings of the show as the stereotype of the sex can be exaggerated or made fun out of. However, advertising is a large industry and advertisers continue to spend a lot of money on advertising. Industries will do anything to be successful and make money. Therefore, many stereotypes are used in advertising. Many older people are aware of the stereotypes and how some advertisers try to manipulate us however; there are concerns that some people such as young children are vulnerable to deceptive claims and damaging images.
Also, some children at an early age take in messages and images from the media about what girls and boys, men and women are like and how they should behave and because of the content of the media, many people have grown up believing that. For example, you often hear the saying ‘a woman’s place is at home’, which makes some women believe that it is actually true as you hear it so often and this is done through socialisation. People will have their own ideas however the overall effect is a slow shaping of what we think is natural and normal.
Gender differences are now obvious in the mass media children use, such as magazines, catalogues, books, music and television programmes. The mass media still use many gender stereotypes for example boys are more likely to be the heroes of the stories, to be active and adventurous. Girls are more likely to be less active, more interested in the home and more dependent on boys and men to do things. The two advertisements, which I will be looking at, may relate to these stereotypes that the mass media sometimes use and are a good example of sexual stereotyping.
In addition, the two advertisements I am studying are from an Argos catalogue, which sells a vast range of products from cupboards to toys. The advertisements, which I am using as evidence of sexual stereotyping, are from the toy section, which are aimed at children. In one of the advertisements there is a young girl standing next to a ‘ Super Kitchen’ which has a pretend hob, espresso coffee machine, strawberry scented pot, cooking utensils, sink and tap. In addition, there is a cleaning trolley given free if the Super Kitchen is brought.
The small trolley has a bucket, brush, mop and cloth. In the boys advertisement the products are all related to the sci-fi movie- Star Wars. There is a young boy holding a lightsaber looking aggressive. The page is full of nine other products relating to the movie Star Wars. Also, the fact that a boy has only been used to advertise the Star Wars products and the fact that a girl has only been used to advertise a kitchen shows that it is an example of sexual stereotyping.
If a girl was used to advertise the Star Wars products and a boy for the kitchen there maybe some outrage or sense of strangeness as in most advertisements there are certain ‘girls things’ which are only advertised for girls and certain ‘boys things’. For example when action heroes such as Spider man, Action man or Super man are advertised there are never any girls on the page. Whereas when Barbie dolls or Lucy Lockets are being advertised, there is never a boy on the page. This is also an example of sexual stereotyping.
It projects the image that girls should not be interested in action heroes they should concentrate on girl’s things and boys should never be interested in girl’s things such as dolls but things that are more masculine. Therefore, toys are marketed in a gender-specific way. A point, which is clear, is that the theme of a kitchen and a cleaning trolley relate to housework and domestic things. The fact that a girl has been added to this picture not a boy gives the message that it is a girl’s job to do the domestic work. This relates to girls being socialized into feminine roles.
These tend to emphasise, doing the housework, looking after the kids, being a ‘perfect housewife’ and being sensitive. Furthermore, the theme of Star Wars and the action and adventure relates to things, which happen in the ‘real world’. This gives the image that the boys are expected to face the real world and should be strong, as they have to be the ‘breadwinners’. This relates to boys being socialized into masculine roles. These tend to emphasise, being tough, adventurous, competing and winning, being good at sport, being aggressive and not being ‘weak’.
Another point is that there is a great contrast between the colours, which are used in both advertisements. The advertisement with the boy is very different from the advertisement with the girl due to the choice of colours, which have been used. The boy is not wearing a pink and yellow jumper and the surroundings in the advertisement are not bright and positive. The colours used for the advertisement with the boy are dark blue, silver, black, grey, and maroon. The colours used for the advertisement with the girl are pink, white, light blue, yellow and red.
There are many bright and primary colours used for the girls, which set a happy, airy-fairy scene however, for the boy’s advertisement the colours are dark, setting a mysterious and dangerous scene. In addition, the background for the boy is a night sky and stars relating to space, which relates to the theme of the product. The actual film Star Wars begins with, ‘on a planet far, far away…. ‘ Therefore, the background and the colours want to show how adventurous and imaginative this boy is. The dark colours show that the boy can get dirty and be out in the real world to fight and face the world.
This shows that the boy is emulating his heroes and the advertisers use this to attract the attention of the male sex and to persuade them to fantasise about taking part in this ‘exciting adventure’. In contrast, the advertisement with the girl has a background that is white, spacious and very clean. In addition to the bright and girly colours, I think the colour theme with the girl is trying to show how this girl does her chores, is very domestic, doesn’t go outside the house and is a typical housewife who is emulating her mother.
The girl has blond hair and blue eyes, which stereotypes her as being the perfect housewife who listens to her husband, does all the chores and cooks food for her family. She is also wearing a t-shirt, which has a star on it, which projects the image that she is the star of the kitchen. The advertisers have put a great amount of thought into this advertisement even down to minute details, which shows how advertisers do not accidentally stereotype the sexes but knowingly do in order to help sell their products. Also, the contrasts in colours project the contrast of ideas for each sex.
The girl leads a domestic life, which involves staying home and doing the chores whereas the boy leads an exciting, adventurous life, which involves him facing the real world. This is evidence of sexism and prejudice. The image of the boy projects an adventurous boy who lives life to the full whereas the image of the girl projects an obedient housewife who does not have many ambitions and is encouraged to be like her mother. However, the image of the boy shows he is trying to emulate the heroes from this super action film.
In the advertisement with the boy, he has an aggressive look on his face, which reflects his need to fight, protect and defend. His facial expression looks as though he is determined, courageous and his eyes show how he is ready to fight. The way the boy holds the Lightsaber stick also adds to the image of this ‘aggressive fighter. ‘ However, in the advertisement of the kitchen, the girl is smiling and her facial expression expresses how happy she is. Her body language expresses how she is enjoying what she is doing and how comfortable and creative she is.
This gives the message that girls will be and should be happy with cooking and doing domestic activities, as it’s their job. Another point, which seems to be clear, is the difference in prices for the products in both advertisements. The girl’s products come to a total of i?? 17. 99, whereas the boy’s products come to a total of i?? 148. 90. That is a difference of i?? 130. 91. This is probably because of there being more products in the boy’s advertisement but the big difference is also, because of how expensive the individual products are in the boy’s advertisement. For example, a Jango Fett’s Slave I Vehicle is priced i??
29. 99. The product does not do much and is quite small. Whereas in the girls advertisement the Smoby Super Kitchen plus the Smoby Cleaning Trolley is priced i?? 17. 99. Therefore, more money has been spent on the material for the boy’s products and much cheaper material has been used with the products for the girl. This is another example of prejudice. Also, studies have shown that parents tend to spend more money on their sons than they do on their daughters so the advertiser may have been thinking that parents will be willing to push the boat for the male sex so why not up the price.
Also, the amounts of products that are on sale on both advertisements are different. The girl has only 1 main item whereas the boy has 10. The advertisers have put more Star Wars toys on for sale because they know boys aren’t just happy with one thing, they want it all. Boys like to collect things not just have one thing so the advertisers have put more products on sale because they know the boys will want to buy them all. However, the advertisers have put one product on for sale for the girls because they feel one big, product will satisfy the girls and to add the extra cleaning trolley will be a bonus.
Furthermore, the presentations in both advertisements are also very different. In the boys, all the products are crammed in along with more writing. This is because boys want everything and would prefer it when everything is altogether like a jigsaw piece. Whereas in the girls advertisement there is a lot of space and everything is spread out. This projects the image that the girl is creative and likes to be organized. She likes to keep things clean and orderly.
In addition, there is also more of a variety of products with the boys, which also backs up my point about the advertisers thinking boys want to collect things and do not like to have the same thing all the time. They like a variety not just one. Whereas the girls products are pretty much the same and relate to the idea of girls being just domestic and being interested in housework. In the girls advertisement an extra cleaning trolley is given free when the kitchen is brought. This is emphasised as being a real bargain and a bargain often catches a mothers eyes.
Even though in reality the cleaning trolley is not free, the cost would probably be added on to the original price of the kitchen. The language, which is used in the girl’s advertisement, is over exaggerated and overblown. Words such as ‘WOW! ‘, ‘for only’,’ FREE! ‘ and ‘what a fantastic offer’, are used to make these products sound as though they are a bargain and make buyers think that this offer is too good to be true. Some of the words are in block capital letters to help emphasise the word and some have exclamation marks to make everything sound exciting.
In addition, the size of the font used on the words such as ‘WOW! ‘ is very big. This is to catch the attention of the buyer and promote how good, cheap the product is and how they would be stupid not to buy this ‘fantastic’ product. However, the language, which is used for the boy’s advertisement, is quite different. It has much more technical terms such as ‘levitating effect’, ‘flight mode to flight mode’. The language also sounds exciting and there is an exclamation mark used- ‘Missile fire! ‘ this is making everything sound more exciting and adventurous.
It also makes the buyers feel as though they can take part in authentic play and take part in the action. The advertiser has used technical terms for the boys because of the idea that boys can relate to the terms and understand them whereas girls will not as they are not interested in Star Wars. This is evidence of prejudice and makes girls look stupid and uninteresting. There is great contrast in the language for the advertisement with the girl and the boy as the advertiser feels that boys understand the technical terms whereas girls like things simple and the advertiser wants to emphasise how cheap the product is to mothers.
Also, there is much confusion as to what is meant by sex and gender or does it mean the same thing. The word sex refers to the biological differences between a male and a female. Whereas the word gender refers to the differences between male and female that are as a result of what kind of society they live in and socialization. There is a nature versus nurture debate, where nature refers to biological differences and nurture to differences occurring from culture and socialisation. The nature/nurture debate is about the degree to which biological factors, such as our genes, influence our behaviour.
However, some scientists say even if our genes push us towards certain kinds of behaviour, we can decide to behave differently. They back the theory that we learn our behaviour through culture and socialisation. Some scientists say there are genes not only which decide what hair colour or eye colour we have but also genes for intelligence, violence, for being gay and so on. Theories that say genes decide the way we behave are called genetic determinism. However, there is no concrete scientific evidence, which has been put forward to support these theories. The question is who influences our behaviour? A gene or our society?
Does our society influence what we wear and act like? Many people have different opinions on this. A question that is commonly asked is are people born into acting like their sex? Do boys automatically play with action figures and like the colour blue? Are girls automatically interested in cooking and cleaning? The answer to these questions is mostly no. Many boys at a young age chose pink as their favourite colour and many girls hate doing cooking and household chores. As children grow up, religion, education, family and the mass media face them. By this, children watch how other people behave of the same sex.
They watch the television and see the advertisements with a blond haired girl wearing spotty pink clothes, playing with a Barbie doll, and then they see an advertisement with a young boy wearing dull clothes playing with Action man and taking part in some sort of exciting action. By watching advertisements like these children, learn how society expects sexes to behave and sometimes put these ideas into practice. They see the great contrast in ideas as to how a male is expected to behave and how a female is expected to behave. They understand that male and females should not behave in the same way.
Sometimes in cultures, the mother in the family encourages her daughter to get involved in domestic activities and is expected to help at home. However, the father usually encourages the boy to accompany him when going out and wants him to face the ‘real world’. This is an example of how members of the family affect the way a child learns to behave. The advertisement from the catalogue is evidence that the mass media uses sexual stereotyping to advertise their product and can influence our behaviour. Overall, the two advertisements show the great prejudice relating to the roles of male and female.
It projects the image that girls should be involved in domestic jobs such as cooking and cleaning and boys should be involved in exciting adventures, which involve facing the ‘real world’, something which girls are not fit for. These advertisements are good examples of sexual stereotyping and are evidence of how the mass media uses sexual stereotyping to promote a product. There are many differences between the girls and boys advertisement, for example, the cost of the products, the colours/ colour theme, presentation, language and number of products of the advertisements.
These differences show that girls and boys are not expected to behave in the same way and should be different. The impact of sexual stereotyping is that stereotypical images of the sexes projected will be put into practice therefore the product will sell. Sexual stereotypical images also can affect the way a certain sex behaves thus the mass media can affect the behaviour of a person especially a child as they are much more vulnerable and unaware than an adult. Therefore, this advertisement is an example of how sexual stereotyping can project many messages about the way girls and boys should behave.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 7 July 2017
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