In the United States of America, the media plays a gigantic role in the life of every man, woman, and child. No one can escape the media, for our life has become based around it. Televisions are being built into cars, the internet is full of advertisements, the radio is constantly blaring – there is no one person in the USA that is able to escape the media and its effects, that is, unless they choose to live literally under a rock. It has many positive and negative effects on our everyday life, as it influences all of our thoughts and actions. One giant thing that the media does is to help give all Americans “lenses of gender” (Lafky, 1996), which are imbedded in our “social, political, and economic institution and shape the way we interpret all media” (Belknap & Leonard, 1999, p. 473). Though these “lenses” develop because of many aspects of our life, the media is truly “one of the greater contributors to gender role socialization in American culture” (Lafky, 1996, p. 380). No matter which sort of media is studied, the same gendered themes seem to run rampantly through out. These gendered themes are becoming more regressive as the years pass, as the media turns back to the stereotypes that were prevalent long ago, such as the housewife and care taker. Instead of moving forward and accepting different types of more forward, independent women, the media continues to forcefully display them as the weaker sex.
[...] The second theme that ran though all three studies was that the brief exposure to the media in any way can reinforce gender roles. These exposures do not have to be over a period of years, for only short durations of exposure can cause a viewer to have those gender roles reinforced or new gender roles perceived. The media has a bigger impact than someone dictating these gender roles verbally because most forms of the media are interactive and consequently do not permit the receiver of a message to respond and this socializing agent the visual imagery provided by the media can have powerful impact on our attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviors” (Belknap and Leonard p.104). [...]
[...] The first theme that all of the articles agreed on are that in all forms of media the perceptions of social reality are altered. Instead of people seeing what the world is really like, the media presents stereotypes that essentially become the foundations of media. All messages to and about women are “created through presentations of idealized stereotypical portrayals of individuals” (Lafky p. 380). These can be everything to what a female should look like or what activities she should engage in. [...]
[...] All three studies looked at slightly different aspects of the gender role of women. Belknap and Leonard, as well as Fouts and Burggraf took random samplings of media and observed what was displayed. Belknap and Leonard studied the medium of print media through magazines. Fouts and Burggraff examined prime time popular television shows by taking a random sampling of shows. By choosing articles regarding different types of media it is proven that gender roles are not just in one form of media. [...]
[...] In seeing these stereotypical pictures, and with the media having such an immediate impact, it is no wonder why in many peoples' heads reality can be distorted to such large degrees. Though reality is distorted in most every persons head because of the media, those most affected are young women. The final theme that all three studies show is that the media has devastatingly negative impacts on young women's self perception. Constantly, they are told that they are supposed to be the submissive ones, being continuously displayed as childlike. [...]
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