Common Portrayals Of Gender In Television Media

Essay add: 29-10-2015, 11:11   /   Views: 246

Let's travel back to the time when we were children. Did you feel very relaxed just watching television and not having to worry about life and expectations? What exactly did we think of when we watched television as children? Is it the intentions behind advertisements or simply the fun of watching television programs?

Indeed, we did not really care about the intentions behind advertisements as children. We just simply watched them. Advertisements permeate every space and form, be it a poster in a bus, movie commercials, email pop-up ads, or banners. In this paper, I will be focusing on television commercials. Television commercials are always so short and sweet because they want to attract the attention of viewers and eventually get them to buy the product. There have been years of past research focused on gender stereotypes. Thus it is very important to look at how children view gender stereotypes in commercials. Furthermore, commercials may induce negative mindsets, behaviors and attitudes in children subconsciously. It conveys the wrong message to them and parent-child interaction is critical in the process of minimizing the negative impacts that commercials could have on children. The characters of children are very easily influenced and they thus have a naïve outlook of the images men and women in commercials (Davis, 2003, p. 408). This research paper will examine portrayals of men and women in commercials and their effects on children.

We need to explore gender stereotypes in commercials because they affect the attitudes and behavior of children. Hence through past research, we can see that sex stereotypes are still in the process of discussion and are ongoing. Men and women's roles in commercials are widely discussed, as we can see in the 1970s, males character mostly held major roles while women held minor role or perhaps no role (as cited in Davis, 2003, p. 410). Furthermore, in the year 1980s, there are several changes to this trend, similar numbers of men and women are been portrayal in prominent roles in the commercial. For example, both women and men are now be shown in the job setting (as cited in Davis, 2003, p. 410).Then, in the year 1990s, women were seen more in the domestic role than other types of role that are been portray (as cited in Davis, 2003, pp. 410-411).

As of today, there is still no equality in the way men and women are portrayed in commercials. 53% of characters in commercials are males (Davis, 2003, p. 415). By looking at this, the odds of being male that appears in the commercial are by 1.12 to 1 (Davis, 2003, p. 415). Kaufman concluded that men are more likely to appear outside of the home while women are more likely to be shown inside of the home (Kaufman, 1999, p. 454). In domestic scenarios, women are seen more than men. Just by looking at the household tasks commercial, the percentage of men and women whom perform one of the household tasks which is cooking are different. As women that appear in the cooking commercial are 4.6% more compared to men (Kaufman, 1999, p. 449). This means that men seldom do housework as women are the ones responsible for it. Furthermore, men are more likely to appear in the workforce than women. The probability of being male that hold major role and also in the workforce is .91 compared to women in homes (Davis, 2003, p. 418). This may lead children to believe that men are more competent in term of work compared to women.

Kaufman examined the product types that are sold in commercials. Men without children are more likely to appear in food commercials compared to women, who appeared in body product commercials more frequently than men (Kaufman, 1999, p. 447). Thus, we could see that different types of product being featured in the commercial will have different type of gender portrayal. This will lead to the children mindset that only certain type of products that are being featured in the commercial can only have certain type of gender stereotype in it.

The effects that commercials have on children have a greater impact on them whether it has positive effect or negative effects. What are commercials? Commercials are a type of media which mainly serve to sell products to viewers. Whatever characters portray in commercials has never been done so in view of their consequences on children's beliefs. They simply promote the product to the viewer. The influence of television advertisement had a greater impact on children without them realizing it. There are some criticisms in the past research that say it had make false or misleading claim in the television advertisement (as cited in Kapoor & Verma, 2005, p. 22). Children are the target of advertisements, as they are much more easily influenced than adults.

Do children understand commercials or their underlying intentions? Basically there are 3 types of effects that television advertisements could have on children; they are cognitive, affective and behavioural effects. Cognitive effects relates to understanding the intention of commercials by children (as cited in Kapoor & Verma, 2005, p. 22). Affective effect concerns how children feel towards television commercials (as cited in Kapoor & Verma, 2005, p. 22). And lastly, behavioural effect is how television advertisements persuade children or influences them into buying the product (as cited in Kapoor & Verma, 2005, p. 22).

Davis illustrates that children are easily influence by audio and visual techniques used in advertisements (Davis, 2003, p. 408). Result show that such techniques create an impact on up to 70.8% of children who view commercials (Kapoor & Verma, 2005, p. 30). Thus, we can see that the power of advertisements as a form of media is further enhanced by the combined elements of sound and sight. Children can easily memorize songs or tunes used by an advertisement and thus easily recall the advertisement that uses it (Kapoor & Verma, 2005, p. 29).

Much research has examined the effects of commercials that target children's perspectives of gender roles. Heavy exposure to television will foster gender-stereotyped attitudes in children (Pike & Jennings, 2005, p. 84; Kaufman, 1999, p. 440). This implies that children are receptive towards gender stereotypes that are portrayed in commercials and they model after behaviors seen in advertisements (Pike & Jennings, 2005, pp. 84-85).

Parent and child interaction plays a part in shaping children's mindsets about commercials. Parents are able to restrict the content in commercials that are viewed by their children. However, exercising such control can be positive or negative. Studies show that the implication of parents co-viewing commercials with their children is not as significant as teaching children about television advertisements (Kapoor & Verma, 2005, p. 34). This process of distinguishing right from wrong messages in commercials is pivotal to the values acquired by children from viewing them. Kapoor and Verma mention that early parent-child interaction was a key factor in preventing children from being affected by negative teachings in commercials. (Kapoor & Verma, 2005, p. 35).

Women in commercials are often portrayed as touching or caressing men (Cortese, 2008, p. 47). Additionally, 60.4% of children believe that female models being used are attractive and appealing (Kapoor & Verma, 2005, p. 30). The choices and depictions of women in commercials are thus likely to pass or mislead thoughts that children might have about the body image of women. They might think that women ought to or actually look like these models in reality.

It can be argued, however, that commercials may also have beneficial effects on children. This is the case when commercials promote products such as educational books, which are advantageous to the development of children. The issue to be considered here, if any, would be that parents have to fork out extra money to buy these products on top of pre-existing costs of raising their children. Yet if such products are genuinely beneficial for their children, the monetary costs would be worthwhile for parents. Another benefit is that children gain awareness of the latest technology in the world through watching advertisements that promote highly advanced gadgets and this increases the knowledge of children. Contrastingly, if the commercial features fast food and other products that are potentially hazardous to the health and development of children, wanting to buy these products would be a negative effect on children.

Despite the commercial, children learn the risk of cigarette and alcohol through advertisement. For example Marlboro Man advertisement, Alcohol consumption in a high-risk activity likes surfing (Cortese, 2008, pp. 43-44), this is too early for children to watch it. As they do not know the correct concept of the risk as it is harmful to their body and soul in which they are too young to understand. Thus, parent should come along, or even teacher to teach them the correct values of it. As Kapoor and Verma points out that parent played a crucial role in teaching them the correct value and they provide the correct information to them. The key take away lesson from children viewing the television advertisement may be the joint product of what was being shown on the screen and what was been taught by their parents (Kapoor & Verma, 2005, p. 35). The alcohol and cigarette advertisements should be banned in television or any other media to prevent health risk.

Children often misinterpreted or fail to understand helpful messages that advertisements try to communicated. For example, with regards to action or stunts in the advertisement that are dangerous, the words "please do not try it at home" are often broadcast. But how many children actually read or realize the severity of such information? They would probably be oblivious to these words or even feel more tempted to mimic the stunts they see if they were told not to try them, which results in a highly dangerous situation for children.

We are aware that advertisements are aimed at achieving a commercial motive. Thus, when children see commercials that feature a new toy or product that they fancy, they will pressure their parents to buy it for them. In the long run, this might damage the relationship between parents and their children (Kapoor & Verma, 2005, p. 23). In order to avoid such regrettable situations, parents should restrain such reactions from children, possibly by instilling an interest in their children for useful, educational products.

While commercials largely show portray women in traditional roles, women are occasionally portrayed in non-traditional roles as well. For example, the non-traditional commercial, women play the roles such as sports professionals, doctors and other occupations instead of the traditional commercial, women play the roles such as housewives (Pike & Jennings, 2005, p. 85). According to Pike and Jennings, viewing such non-stereotypical depictions of women would result in children having less traditional attitudes towards women (Pike & Jennings, 2005, p. 85).

As can be seen, gender portrayals in television commercials have the ability to do both good and harm to children, although the latter is generally believed and supported by research to significantly outweigh the former. In an optimistic light however, the negative effects of viewing stereotypical gender portrayals can be mediated by the involvement of parents in controlling what is viewed and what is absorbed by their children from commercials.

Article name: Common Portrayals Of Gender In Television Media essay, research paper, dissertation