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Are Gender Stereotypes Perpetuated In Children's Magazines?

1730 words - 7 pages

‘Femininity is associated with traits such as emotionality, prudence, co-operation, a communal sense, and compliance. Masculinity tends to be associated with such traits as rationality, efficiency, competition, individualism and ruthlessness.’ [1]
Despite many changes in equality and social attitudes, gender stereotypes are still common in society and in the English language in general. Children as young as 3 years old start to show signs of gender stereotyping (Martin & Little, 1990). [2] The media in particular can be influential in shaping an individual’s beliefs and ideas. Television plays a large part in leading culture, with its portrayal of men and women in a stereotypical and traditional way. These gender roles are reflected in society, and I want to see if they are embedded in media aimed at children.
I have decided to examine the gender differences in texts and possible reinforcement of gender roles in media other than television. There are thousands of different comics and magazines for young people today. I have chosen to investigate the difference in language between magazines for young boys and those for young girls, aged approximately 4-9 years in both cases. Throughout the investigation I will be analysing grammatical and lexical features of the text and also aspects of pragmatics and graphology. I am looking at graphology as it is an important feature of magazines, due to their visual nature. Also, as the magazines are aimed at children, pictures and titles are likely to be influential. The pragmatics of the text will also be important to find any implied meaning, especially in the form of gender roles and stereotyping. I will look at how these features are used, how often, and how they affect the text. My research question for this investigation is: ‘Are gender roles and stereotypes prevalent in modern children’s magazines?’ In the analysis of my data I will also be looking at feminist criticisms of modern text and modern media.
My data comes from a selection of both boys’ and girls’ magazines from local stores. Specifically, ‘Pink’ magazine typically for girls and ‘Toxic’ magazine typically for boys. I decided to use these magazines because they are popular with many children from an early age. Media can be very influential to young people, which is why I decided to use parts of it for data. I want to see what children are reading and viewing, and how this may be interpreted and how it may affect readers. I have photocopied sections of my chosen magazines for data and I will be identifying specific lexis, phrases and graphological parts of the magazines. I want to see how girls, and girls’ supposed behaviour, are represented in comparison to boys through language and style. Furthermore, I would like to see if there are any notable differences between the publications and, if so, what they imply.
Among problems with selecting data was the absence of substantial amounts of text as the magazines are suited...

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