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Media Essay

1575 words - 6 pages

Mainstream Media and Gender Stereotyping
It is well understood that the mass media holds the power to reinforce dominant social
understandings of males and females, further producing discriminating social systems (Ott, 2010, p. 180).
This is done through the media's ability to naturalize the link between various biological traits (born by
males and females) with gender norms (of femininity and masculinity). Stereotyping can occur when a
"misleading or simplified representation" is produced, usually by blending realistic aspects of life,
material conditions and social roles (Ott, 2010, p. 180). These categories of gender stereotyping can be
identified through such popular television shows as: The Simpsons and The Honeymooners.
The popular sitcom entitled, The Simpsons depicts an American working class nuclear family that
"define culture, society, way of thinking, and exploits the problems that Americans face every
day" (Hodge, 1999, p.1). Within the episode: "Homer Alone", the characters will resemble the typical
gender and family roles, and at times contradict them through their actions and personalities (Hartman,
The first scene opens with a sped-up version of Marge's (Homer's Wife) daily routine. The
combination of cooking, cleaning, and taking care of her three children and husband lead to her breaking
point (Hartman, 2009). At this point, it is evident that "the price of motherhood" entails overworking and
under-appreciation from her family (Hartman, 2009). Marge decides to travel on a relaxing vacation,
leaving her household duties to her husband (Homer), and childrearing to her sisters. During her leave,
Homer struggles with tending to the children and keeping the house in order. Once Marge returns home,
the family realizes how much they missed and need her to properly function as a family (Hartman, 2009).
The episode does highlight the intense labour involved with taking care of the home and family (which
has been devalued and unacknowledged), but a resolution is only found once the well-constructed gender
norms are re-established (Miller, 2009, p.2).
In the situation comedy show entitled The Honeymooners depicts a working class man (Ralph)
and his wife (Alice). The episode: "Brother Ralph" explicitly defines gender norms and stereotypes
through its characters and their attitudes toward work, home-life, and leisure activities (Marx, 2011).
Katherine Pomykacz [996888783] Media Lab 7: Feminist Analysis

Within this episode, Ralph is temporarily laid off from his job as a bus driver and must accept
Alice's plea to land a new job as a typist. Ralph becomes jealous and embarrassed by his wife's new
position and insists he meet her new (male) boss and that they work at home (Marx, 2011). As Alice and
her (handsome) boss are working, Ralph learns he has been rehired and violently throws Alice's boss out
of the house (Marx, 2011). Alice is both angry and flattered at Ralph's violent jealousy. She and Ralph are
extremely happy to return...

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