amanda honner

I have a part-time calling to be a full-time diva.

Stereotypes in Media: It’s time to break cliches

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Above is a compilation of gender stereotypes depicted through media. Traditionally, it is key to find a target audience.

“Boys will be boys and girls will be girls.” This classic statement has grown erroneous with the building challenges to social gender norms. This cultural mythology is not so natural anymore. Classic cues of masculinity, traditional signs of femininity and stereotypes associated with the two have grown important in social sciences. Traditionally, masculinity is referred to as classic characteristics of males where femininity categorizes a habitual female schema. With the help of Rolling Stone Magazine, and two similar articles, I have noticed key characteristics and obvious defiance to gender labels. Through media, the artist can make the audience feel any emotion or skew their opinion towards the most sensitive subject. Media is a direct form of mind control and has affected social standards that are expected to be met. However, an alternative conception of gender roles has been compared to anarchy and disorder, where in fact, it is just an evolutionary perspective to view the world and its inhabitants.

Traditional roles of males and females have shaped a social schema that builds the boundaries of “the norm”. Masculinity is highlighted as one possessing classic male qualities: aggressive posture, self-confidence and a tough appearance. Femininity as female attributes: gentleness, passivity, and strong nurturing instincts. In society, this idea of “mandatory” gender standards is either heavily enforced or passionately challenged. In Warren St. John’s  Metrosexuals Come Out, an international view of manly attributes is simply disconnected with an “americanized” portrayal of male characteristics. “Metrosexual”, a new name for something quite old. Men with taste and style who know about fashion, art, and culture have always existed. In the past, these kinds of men were the upper crust of society with importance placed on aesthetics and appeal almost as much as women. An American Metrosexual is like your average European male. In France or Italy, men can be manly and work on cars and still be educated in the arts congruently. In the U.S. society creates polar gender classes and perceives men to either be dumb primates or homosexuals, leaving an extremely large gray area. The same goes for women. Men could consider a woman as a typical nurturing mother figure by bearing two and a half average babies and sustaining a clean home for their working, cookie cutter husband, or if they stray from the social norm, they are labeled as a “bitch”. There is an emphasis on not being pretentious in America and that itself becomes a kind of pretentiousness.

miley cyrus 22

Recent depiction of Miley Cyrus’ “new look” on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine.

In the media, there is a typical ideal that sex sells. But what classifies something to be considered “sexy”? A woman with luscious hair and a striking red dress or a woman in a business pant suit? A man, shirtless, working on the engine to an American classic muscle car or a rock sensation sporting skin tight pants and a hot pink boa?  I chose rolling stone magazine because it is a classic musical magazine that broadcasts media articles based upon the mainstream hits of the month. I believe a music magazine portrays people in their natural habitat and allows an artist to express themselves both visually and musically appealing. Yes, as a stage act, but people’s physical appearances and facial features are collected in this magazine as candid shots. This is different than a fashion magazine, where a person walks on a set and is dressed up as the director’s Barbie or Ken dolls to portray a striking advertising image rather than an expressive blunt snapshot of personality.

I chose the February issue in 2012, which just so happened to be my reading material in the financial aid office of my college. Immediately opening this popular social regime, a Bacardi advertisement portrays women has damsels in a vintage cocktail lounge being entertained by men. This exaggeration, though socially accepting, is generally sexist and obnoxious. The role of femininity started as way to classify a woman’s role in society. However, depicted in this issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, I found it obvious that femininity is best enacted as a sensuality of a woman or nontraditional characteristics of a man. A music artist allows their own creativity to be displayed to their audience and popular culture daily. Gender association in the music industry is always apparent. Bruno Mars, on page 20 is seen sweetly smiling in to a microphone with a neatly sculpted hair cut. This affects the audience differently than the picture immediately underneath of Dr. Dre scrunching his eyebrows and he barks blunt hip hop rhymes. One represents a strong, aggressive masculine role while the other plays against the social norm by acting romantic. Bruce Springsteen on page 61 is seen posted up on a rugged red wall allowing his eyes to make love to the camera. There is nothing seductive about a scowling forehead or a snared lip, but it allows Springsteen to appeal to the audience as a “man’s man”. Lana Del Rey, although a strikingly beautiful woman, on page 60, Rey appeals differently than expressing an automatic feminine sensuality and attractiveness. Standing up straight with stiff posture and a sneering mouth as she holds a cigarette up and sporting a ripped, painted shirt. However, when I looked up her tunes, I was surprised to notice that her perception via advertisement summarized her atmospheric, torchy, husky sounding voice and music genre.

It’s very natural for performers to be generalized. Women singers are often seen seducing the microphone and romantically making eye contact with the audience or camera while men either take aggression out on a heavy guitar riff or resembling a slouched primate hip-hop artist spitting choppy rhymes of anger or jest. On page 26, there is a tribute to Etta James, classically beautiful African American blues singer is then challenged by Nicki Manaj as an anime, Alice in Wonderland disco ball. It becomes apparent that times are changing and generalizations are falling short of expectation.

Connecting these articles with a classic popular culture magazine, it is obvious that the stereotypes of male and female gender generalizations are being challenged. What is a man’s man and what is a woman’s woman? It depends on the audience being affected.

The Courage to Advertise Without Female Stereotypes How brands like Huggies, Tide and Target go beyond the clichés By David Gianatasio

I came across this wonderful article highlighting the new courage with stores to cross traditional cliches in their new ads.

The new “modern mom” is no longer a homemaker, but an empowered woman in a pinstriped power suit, hair perfectly coiffed, reading a bedtime story to her kids while checking her email from work on her iPhone. I believe the advertising perspective on stereotypes is a lot slower than the changing roles in society. According to Sarah Kramer, president and global managing director at Starcom MediaVest Group, who steers the Proctor & Gamble account, “Too often, marketers will generalize when they could have been more personal, or more engaging” with their target audience.

fea-womens-cliche-01-2013Advertising is at a different point today than it has ever been. The idea of B2C (business to consumer), direct marketing and the uses of two-way communication now allow society to give personal opinions towards companies and their products. The idea of transforming social media to be the mainstream allows for a two-way communication approach that aids in yielding more data and insight to what the consumer wants to see, hear, and own. Kramer states, “Data helps us to understand what’s most meaningful to them [and] to understand who women are unique in terms of why they engage with brands and why they care” about various products and services.

The only way that these stereotypes and cliches will adapt with society is if society admits to the changing gender roles assigned.

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