Gender Stereotypes in Popular Media Media creates a world of much resemblance to the real one, projecting the very values it represents onto everyday lives. These concepts may even shape our cognition especially when we are repeatedly exposed to them. In the respect of gender roles, stereotyped images of men and women are presented from time to time. These stereotypes not only narrow our choices of what we want to be, but also create an atmosphere that encourages conformity. However, we seldom question them; instead, we agree with them.
This happens because of the typical upbringing where parents instill the sense of gender roles in their children by modeling and conditioning. As a result, the partiality of gender stereotypes is passed down over generations, strengthened by popular media. One example can be found in a recent TV show The Walking Dead, where humans struggle to outlive zombies and internal discord. In this fictional world, the environment survivors are placed into is quite similar to what human ancestors have been through in the long evolution history.
Though the show features a group consisting of men and women, it is always the men who go out hunting and gathering medicines, and women stay in the camp washing clothes and looking after children. It is natural in this show that the leadership goes to men instead of women and that women are subject to men’s control. This relationship among group members and their roles in the group is illustrated in the following specific instance. Carol, a victim of domestic violence and also a mother of a pre-school age girl, is often beaten black and blue by her husband.
However, when asked, she explains away the bruises on her face and denies that she has been mistreated. One day when Carol and other women are washing clothes together, her husband shows up in a bad mood and commands that she return to their tent and “have a talk”. Though knowing what will happen next, she obeys the “order’ just as usual. When other women argue with her husband and Carol shows some reluctance, he smashes her on her face and drags her away. Women protest in vain. But one of the leaders, Shane, spots this chaos.
Rushing to the scene, Shane knocks down her husband with no hesitation and beats him to half death. It can be argued that had it not been for Shane, Carol would have to endure more violence. Interestingly, Carol cries for her husband’s injury and apologies for making him suffer this. Several gender stereotypes are used in the show. Men are portrayed as hunters and leaders, whereas women as homemakers. When dispute arises, men are prone to use forces, while women prefer to use words. Women are loyal, while men can be very cold. Typical TV producers aim to make their works popular and successful.
It is no exception for this show. Imagine the reverse of the gender roles in the show, where men are babysitters and care for home-making and women go hunting and settle dispute. If this were the case, the show would probably lose lots of its popularity. People would consider the show weird because the norm of gender roles is too strong to be challenged. By conforming to established social expectancy, the creator does a good job, as evidenced by the fact that The Walking Dead is now among the top TV shows in the U. S. However, it is not true that any use of gender stereotypes is misleading.
From the perspective of evolution, men and women ever stop developing better strategy in order that their genes pass on more securely. This means that women need vital protection during pregnancy and that it is men’s job to adventure into jungle in search of food. Moreover, it is not likely that a man cares for another man’s child as much as the biological father does, because that would be no use helping spread his own genes. As a result, a woman sticks to her partner, especially after having a child, as shown in Carol’s case. It is not easy to conclude whether the effects of gender stereotypes are solely negative or positive.
Popular media, such as the TV show The Walking Dead, both strengthens stereotyped gender images in people’s minds and reminds people of different genders of their jobs, which are of vital importance in the respect of evolution. However, that these effects are neither good nor bad does not mean that nothing needs improving. Female figures are often underrepresented in popular media and are more subject to untruthful depiction that deemphasizes women’s importance in society. Still, further efforts are needed to balance the mixed effects.