The Concentration Of Gender Roles Essay

The Concentration Of Gender Roles Essay

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Being one of the primary agents of socialization in the United States, the mass media constantly teaches social expectations through forms of shows and advertisements for people to oblige by. One of those expectations reflects the appropriate behaviors associated with gender roles through television. Given the fact that over 90% of Americans own at least one television because it is an important feature in people’s lifestyle, individuals are constantly bombarded with the manipulation by the media on how to supposedly behave like ideal men and women so they can fit normally into society. Because of the reinforcement of gender role by the mass media through television, gender roles are reinforced based on the physical, behavioral, and personality traits associated with masculinity and femininity in the United States.

The reinforcement of gender roles began in the 1950s, an era where situation comedies (sitcom) portrayed ideal men and women. It was the icon that supposedly defined the appropriate behaviors associated with masculinity and femininity. During the time, majority of sitcom portrayed ideal women as domesticated mothers and wives who worked the ‘second shift’ to care for the house and children, and ideal men as the breadwinners and authorities of their family. However for some sitcom, the reinforcement of gender roles were not always followed. Although directors continued on the traditional portrayal of men and women through the years, others took a different approach by swapping roles.

The reinforcement of gender roles began in “white suburban sitcom, a genre that emerged to a moderate success in the late 1950s and early 1960s” (Oren 2003, 78). Situation comedies such as Father Knows Best (1954), Leave it to Beaver (...


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...g as homemakers or housewives dropped 29.6 to 5.5%, a 24.1% decrease of their traditional role inside the home (Allan 1996). Therefore, “women characters were 6 times more likely to be pictured working in the 1980s than parenting” (Allen 1996). As for men, their traditional role did not change much during the 1980s, as they represented 7 out of 7 occupations categories and their representation as homemakers decreased from 7 to 2% (Allen 1996). However from 1986 to 1988, “It is clear that the traditional portrayal of men stayed true to how they are suppose to behave and function like in situation comedies. The significant decrease as homemakers during the time showed that men were being portrayed with masculinity traits by working outside the home instead. Overall, the 1970s to 1980s saw significant changes to how men and women were portrayed in situation comedies.

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