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Commercializing Gender Essay

1844 words - 7 pages

Everyday Practice

The everyday practice to be discussed in this paper is a common media pattern, particularly the perpetual characterization of specific gender roles in the media through the use of television commercials.
To begin, for just about every product on the market there is an advertisement made to accompany it. Commercials are a common form of media, which are used for soliciting both products and services. They can be humorous, emotional, have a catchy jingle or an aesthetic appeal, or pretty much anything that would make them memorable. On the surface this type of advertising is useful, however, there is a negative side to this medium as well.
While constantly being bombarded with must-have products and services, viewers are also presented with images of generalized, and often idealized, kinds of people. More specifically, ideas of what masculinity and femininity should involve, in terms of traits and social roles, are presented to the viewers through this medium. For example, the common idea of masculinity often portrays attributes such as strength (both physically and emotionally), as well as holding the title of bread-winner in a family unit. Similarly, femininity is portrayed with its own set of characteristics such as being a patient homemaker. Current examples that portray these characteristics are advertisements for Swiffer, Old Spice and Mr. Clean, which will be analyzed later on in the paper. Furthermore, each of these advertisements has been in circulation for a significant amount of time, showing some modifications all while maintaining the same generalized main character. Additionally, each is aimed toward a specific audience, such as people of the same gender as the actor, while also being viewed by members of the opposite sex, individuals of varying ages and so on. Essentially, these commercialistic generalizations are perpetuated through television on a regular basis; thereby making them part of the mainstream media, and thus viewable by a large audience.

ii. Concept
The concept that will be analyzed in connection to gender oriented commercials is gendering. The concept of gendering is derived from the term gender, which is a socially constructed idea of being male and female, or in other words, masculinity and femininity. Gender is more so about cultural and social characterizations of being masculine and feminine, rather than only taking into account the anatomical difference between men and women.
Determining gender involves looking at cultural codes of conduct, attire, interests, career choice, social relations, and status within a family unit as well as physical appearance. For example, as was aforementioned, a typical idea of masculinity may be physical strength and height and a primary wage-earner position in the family unit. In addition, femininity is commonly associated with refined features, patience and being a home-maker. The question here is, where do these ideas of gender...

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