Television Advertisings Influence On Gender Roles Sociology Essay Example
Television Advertisings Influence On Gender Roles Sociology Essay Example

Television Advertisings Influence On Gender Roles Sociology Essay Example

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  • Pages: 6 (1447 words)
  • Published: September 19, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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Television advertising in the United States has greatly influenced how Americans raise their children. Traditional gender stereotypes, such as associating pink with girls and blue with boys, have been deeply ingrained in society for a long time. These color choices and prevailing gender stereotypes play an important role in children's learning as they help them associate objects, including toys, with specific genders. As television advertising has advanced from black and white to color televisions over the years, it continues to promote new products that can enhance one's lifestyle but often emphasizes gender roles that impact children's thoughts. My inconspicuous research aims to investigate how television advertisements from the 1960s to the 1980s influenced and contributed to these gender roles. To fully understand television's influence on society, it is crucial to acknowledge that society also shapes individuals through identifiable stru


ctural characteristics and historical circumstances. This process is referred to as socialization, where individuals learn how to behave according to a particular culture's rules and expectations. Socialization occurs throughout life because the roles individuals assume depend on their circumstances.Various factors, including family, friends, peers, teachers, schools, religious institutions, and the media contribute to socialization. Television is one of these agents of socialization and it has a significant impact on our self-concepts, attitudes, tastes, values, emotions, and behavior (Newman 2011:59). It plays a crucial role in shaping society's purchasing decisions by presenting a distorted reality filled with extravagant experiences. An example of this is the frenzy for Cabbage Patch Dolls during the 80s when each doll was marketed as unique with its own name and birth certificate. People bought them to show off their purchase to others. Thi

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led to aggressive exchanges during holiday seasons but eventually their popularity declined.

Undoubtedly advertising creates a sense of urgency among viewers and often uses celebrities like actors, singers, and young models to attract consumer attention. This immediately triggers a desire in consumers to have what their favorite celebrity is endorsing. Companies recognize the effectiveness of advertising and are willing to invest substantial amounts of money in creating profitable commercials that captivate viewers' attention. The cost of commercials can range from hundreds to millions of dollars for a 30-second spot depending on factors such as network,timeofday,and special events like Presidential Campaigns or major sports events like the Olympics or Super Bowl.
Television plays a crucial role in the lives of many Americans, with most households owning multiple sets. However, this heavy reliance on TV can lead to negative consequences as people often believe everything shown on television to be true. The content aired by major networks greatly influences people's perception of reality. According to a Nielsen study, the average American spends more than 34 hours per week watching live television, which significantly shapes social behavior. The evolution of advertising has been remarkable, particularly during the 1960s when commercials started targeting children who were exposed to advertised products through shows they watched. Shows like Howdy Doody introduced various products like Hostess bars and wonder bread when advertising was less intrusive. Gender is a concept that has existed for centuries and encompasses psychological, social, and cultural aspects that define masculinity and femininity, distinguishing between males and females (Newman, 2011:65).The text discusses how gender identity is assigned to unborn children based on factors like the strength of their kicks or the

position of their mother's pregnant belly. Some mothers even use different voices depending on the gender, speaking softly for girls and louder for boys. In the first six months of a child's life, mothers tend to show more attention and communication towards their daughters, responding more immediately to their cries than those of their sons (Kimmel, 2011). Gender is also indicated in birth announcements and nursery decorations through color preferences. Pink or blue are commonly used colors for this purpose. A study conducted by Rheingold and Cook in 1975 found that boys had a greater variety and overall number of toys such as cars, trucks, trains, footballs, basketballs,and baseballs. On the other hand,girls typically had dolls,doll houses,stuffed animals,and toys representing domestic roles such as vacuums,toy washers,and dryers,and kitchen sets. These differences reflect parents' acceptance of gender roles through their purchasing decisions.Finally,the text highlights historical changes in color preferences for genders,such as how in the 1920s children wore white clothes without any societal concerns related to gender.In the 1920s, there was a change in the association of colors with gender, as pink became linked to boys and blue to girls. It wasn't until the 1940s that the current color assignments for boys and girls were established, indicating a shift in societal gender stereotypes in America. Nickelodeon commercials often showcase boys wearing bright colors while girls are depicted with pastel colors and toys (Kahlenberg & Hein, 2010). This trend is also evident on television shopping networks where clothing colors are emphasized to attract customers and create a sense of urgency. Marketers recognize the significance of color in attracting customers (KILINC, 2011), even though it is just one

aspect of selling a product. These advertisements play a crucial role in shaping mainstream American society and perpetuating gender stereotypes. Children learn social behaviors by observing what they see on TV and imitating it. A YouTube video featuring a five-year-old boy playing with an Easy-Bake Oven illustrates this influence. The boy mentioned wanting both a dinosaur and an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas based on what he had seen in the media. According to YouTube (2012), only girls are shown using Easy-Bake Ovens, implying that male children are not encouraged to play with them according to these commercials.Even young children who cannot read can easily determine which toys are intended for boys or girls while shopping, simply by observing the colors and themes. Girls often gravitate towards pink items such as dolls and Easy-Bake Ovens, while boys are more attracted to blue items like cars and trucks. From a very young age, boys learn that playing with dolls is considered unmasculine, and their parents reinforce this belief, shaping their understanding of gender roles.

However, contemporary television challenges these traditional gender norms by showcasing individuals who defy typical gender roles. This includes members of the LGBT community, such as lesbians and gays who have emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to people of the same sex (Committee 2012). Some women also identify as homosexual rather than lesbian (Teeside Positive Action 2012). The term "bisexual" refers to someone who experiences sexual and/or emotional attraction towards people of all genders (Woodhouse and Roberts 2008-2012).

Moreover, transgender individuals believe they were born in the wrong body. Despite having a physical appearance corresponding to one gender, transgender people deeply identify with the opposite gender

(Bassplayer 2010). Television has introduced diverse programs catering to the LGBT community like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and The New Normal. These shows feature vibrant characters whose occupations mirror those of heterosexual individuals.In Queer Eye, the challenges faced by gay men in America are showcased, allowing society to relate and reducing shock value. The New Normal follows two characters trying to conceive a baby with a surrogate mother, a path also taken by some heterosexual couples dealing with fertility issues. Gender roles have shifted within each gender itself, as men now feel more comfortable wearing vibrant colors like pink. Hoffman (2000) states that gender identity enables us to redefine masculinity and femininity beyond stereotypes, allowing individuals to embody both masculine and feminine characteristics in their self-concept. This is exemplified by Justin Bieber choosing traditionally feminine colors and Janelle Monae embracing a more masculine look with dark suits and ties. These choices no longer strictly define Justin or Janelle in the eyes of the public. The younger generation embraces role models regardless of their gender, although there are still individuals who resist societal expectations. Television now showcases a wider range of people participating in various activities. The stigma surrounding boys wearing pink has diminished over time, while toy companies offer gender-neutral toys for children to identify with and play withAuster (2012) proposes that companies have the ability to market toys in a manner that appeals to both boys and girls. This can be achieved by depicting them engaging with action figures and cooking toys equally. Companies may also modify toys to cater to the interests of both genders. While this leads to changes, it

also emphasizes how colors still signify gender identities. According to Auster (2012), if children had more toy options, they would be able to develop various cognitive, physical, and social abilities. To attain this outcome, it is crucial to provide children with opportunities for enhancing their interpersonal skills by accepting toys suitable for all genders.

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