images of gender in the media

1249 Words3 Pages
Finding a simple or concrete definition of gender maybe near impossible. Gender roles are what men and woman learn and internalize as the way they are supposed to act. These roles are commonly thought of as natural rather than a construction of culture. Gender is thought to flow from sex, rather then being a matter of what the culture does with sex. This theory is widely and exhaustively debated, according to Wood “Sex is based on biology; Gender is socially and psychologically constructed” (Wood 19). This statement suggests that culture’s discourses and ideologies form the complexities of gender and gender roles. It is easy to say that girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice and boy are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails, but we are actually more intricate then that.
To understand gender, it is necessary to understand the distinction between sex and gender. Sex is defined by the physical body and is characterized by the initial biological structure from birth. The characteristics of each male or female body maybe different but the make ups are the same. Gender on the other hand according to Wood is unstable; it is a category or a means by which we understand the body. The cultures ideologies and discourses surrounding us make sense of the body and determine our gender in multiple ways. It gives us a social, political, symbolic, and economic understanding of our bodies and how they are similar and dissimilar from other bodies. Because culture is a living entity and is always advancing it allows gender roles the ability to change with the culture. The idea of what a woman should be and how and what she can do has changed. Women are now able to do things such as vote and support their own families in our modern culture when in the past it was thought to be inconsistent with the expected behaviors of the gender. Culture also varies greatly from one to another and there for so does the idea of gender throughout the world. Considering the evolution of what is considered acceptable gender behavior throughout cultures it stands as a reasonable conclusion that gender is neither based on or found in nature, but is rather constructed by its inhabitants.
We are surrounded by ideologies and discursive examples that suggest how men and women should act and how they should look like in comparison to one another. Thes...

... middle of paper ...

...ure is so used to seeing woman on display is what makes this ad so subversive. When you realize that the person on the screen is a man you are surprised at such image so far from the norm. The culture is not normally put in the position to view a man in a sexual way. When someone is viewed in a sexual way is it can give a sense of power to the viewer, as if the person being viewed is just a piece of meat. Seeing Joe Namath posing with pantyhose on switches the power roles, now he is on display in a sexual manner rather then a woman.
The Namath ad relies on the deeply entrenched and prescribed values associated with each gender, and without the near universal understanding of masculine and feminine roles the ad would cease to make sense. The poignancy of the ad is made by displacement of character, gender, biological sex. When the ad starts at the toes of Namath (the model) the scenario is set for another image enhancing commercial for a woman’s product, but when Namath’s face appears on camera as the main and only spokesperson for the product there is an initial sense of shock and surprise that makes the message of the ad and the cognitions of the viewer converge and coalesce.
Open Document