Archive by Author

Reflection

9 Mar

This past quarter, I chose to look at gender identity and how it is reflected in various media outlets-television, film, print, etc. I found it interesting to take a different perspective while watching rather than just mindlessly following the hegemonic ideals. I tend to already view the way men and women are portrayed in media with a skeptical eye. Although I did see information we learned in class highly reflected in media-such as women being very sexualized and in a more submissive role, while men are more powerful and dominant-there were other aspects I felt we didn’t look into as deeply. For instance, while women were definitely more likely to be sexualized, in most of the media I viewed, the men were highly sexualized as well-especially in media directed in towards women. I feel this issue should be addressed as well if we are interested at all in equality between the sexes and how they are viewed. If we want women to not be constantly portrayed in a submissive, weak, sexualized role, then the best thing to do to equalize is not to put men in the same role of vulnerability. I think there can be an appreciation of both the beauty of men and women without them being almost naked.

I did enjoy observing gender identity in the media, don’t get me wrong, but I found it difficult to find new ways to talk about the same thing this whole quarter. It may have been different had not all the media appealed to the hegemonic ideal and portray men and women virtually the same way in all media. But I would have found it interesting to observe other identity issues throughout the quarter to broaden my awareness of how deeply rooted our views have become based on media portrayals.

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What’s Your Number?

3 Mar

2011 film to analyze: What’s Your Number?

Summary:

This film is about Ally (played by Ana Faris). It begins with her reading an article about the number of sexual partners a woman should have. The article states that once a woman has reached over 20 partners, she probably will never get married. Ally realizes she has had 20 sexual partners and freaks out thinking she will never get married. But once she runs into a old,loser ex-boyfriend and realizes what a catch he has become, she comes up with the idea of looking up all her ex boyfriends to see if any of them have become eligible men-this way her number will not be above 20 and she can be married someday. She enlists the help of her promiscuous neighbor, Colin (played by Chris Evans), who helps her looking up all her exes by location, career and eligibility so that she can pick and choose. Throughout the process, she realizes she had always pretended to be someone else with each of the guys, but with Colin she can be herself. They end up falling in love and neither of them care about the other’s “number.”

Analysis:

Besides this movie being pretty terrible (I definitely would not recommend watching it), it did lend some interesting ideas about gender identity. First and foremost, I was reminded of the Dave Chappelle video we watched in class about gender differences. He mentioned how women look so often to magazines to give them their identity or worth as a woman, and that was displayed perfectly in this film. Ally was completely thrown off by this article and is completely consumed in trying to right how she is viewed by other women and the world. There are role expectations women seem to be expected to fulfill, but not men. In the film Ally’s neighbor, Colin, has probably had as many, if not more, sexual partners than Ally but isn’t as stigmatized by society. It’s the double standard between men and women.

Ana Faris’ character Ally very much fits into the blonde bombshell category-she is naive, comedic and has a curvy figure. There’s nothing really new or surprising about the type pf character she plays-it’s almost predictable, especially if you look at her other films. Another negative portrayal of women in this film is that they don’t work. Never are any of the women shown in a job of an substance besides one of the first scenes where Ally is being fired. But, throughout the film, no real “working” women are shown at any point. Also, the women are very sexualized in the movie. Ally is always shown wearing form fitting clothing, low cut tops, short shorts or skirts, or even at times, shown in nothing but bra and underwear. However, it could be said that men are also highly sexualized in this film as well because they are merely seen as sex objects or critiqued for their physical appearance. Colin is often showed with no clothing on and just a newspaper covering his “unmentionables”. And all the other men are ruled out or kept in based on how they appeared to the female eye.

Response:

I did not like this film at all, really. But I was still surprised at how catered to the male gaze was in this film. Even though it was a romantic comedy, and usually those films are directed toward a mostly female audience, the females were still hyper-sexualized. Though, to be fair, the men were also very sexualized. It was overall pretty disappointing to see how the gender roles were portrayed throughout the film, especially how women were viewed as kind of naive and shallow.

Targeting Women

28 Jan

Summary:

The three magazines I chose to analyze for this post are Self, Glamour and Vogue. All three of these magazines tend to be targeted primarily at women. Vogue is focused on fashion and beauty for women. It has advertisements for clothes and beauty products almost exclusively. Self is targeted more at physical fitness and healthy eating, but also touches on a little bit of fashion and beauty. Glamour tends to me a little more focused on sex, fashion and beauty. All three of these issues were from Summer of 2011, so they are focused on beach bodies, summer clothes and how to get the perfect summer look.

Analysis:

The way women are portrayed in these magazines are all very similar despite if they have different goals or topics for the subject matter of the magazines. The women in both the advertisements and the articles within the magazines are portrayed almost identically. The women are all showing a lot of skin. I’m not sure if it is because they are all summer issues or not, but I am pretty sure that this would be the case regardless. They are often portrayed in poses that suggest infantile themes. For instance, women are portrayed often as laying down, touching their lips or have a finger in their mouth, and/or they have wide eyes suggesting surprise or excitement. If they are not shown from an innocent perspective, than they are portrayed as the seductress.  These women have dark, dramatic make-up and have a very powerful presence. Either way they are portrayed, they are always wearing make-up and wearing nice, fashionable clothing. It almost makes it seem as if it is not okay, as a woman, to go out in public unless your make-up is done and you are looking your finest. In some of the magazines where there were exercise tips, even the women in the photos showing how to perform an exercise were dressed scantily and were made up to look nice.

I found it interesting to see how men were portrayed in these magazines as well. There are few, if any, advertisements featuring men in this magazines. The same goes for the articles. However, whenever men were featured, they tended to be recognizable, celebrity males. If there were men featured in any of the articles, it seemed that they were extremely objectified for their bodies. They were often showed from the chin down to maybe their knees at the lowest. They were always very fit and usually shown with minimal clothing.

Response:

I wasn’t surprised, really, at the way women are portrayed in these magazines. I’ve been looking at women’s magazines since I was a preteen and I’m half convinced those are what led to the immense amount of insecurities I struggled with throughout the past decade of my life. It’s a shame that women can’t be shown without make-up and with clothes on every once in awhile to remind women it’s okay not to have to keep consuming these images and striving to own all of the latest trends and have the hottest body so you can wear less clothing to flaunt your body. I was more shocked, though, to realize how men are portrayed in these magazines. I’ve never really paid attention before, but they are totally used as sex objects throughout the texts. I know these magazines are targeted toward women, but all the while we are degrading how men should be viewed as well. They do deserve some respect if we are ever to ask them to have respect for women.

New Girl: New Boy?

20 Jan

Summary:

This week on New Girl it was Schmidt’s 29th birthday and his plans fell through. So, Jess decided that she, Winston and Nick should throw him a surprise birthday party. In order to pull this party together, she had to figure out what kind of party Schmidt would like since he tends to be a little different than the rest of the men in the show. In the process of preparing his party, Jess has to hire a stripper, find some weed and have plenty of bro juice around. While Jess is throwing all this together, Nick is too busy with his new girl Julia and being embarrassed by his friends-especially Schmidt.

Analysis:

It was very easy to identify how gender roles were played in this show-especially in this particular episode. Already there is an interesting dynamic because Jess is the only real female role presented in the show. It is mostly male dominated, but not all three men are stereotypical male roles. Nick is kind of the average guy, Winston is the competitive athlete, but Schmidt is kind of a metrosexual character that is often cast out as the weird one. In the episode particularly, it evident that he was looked down upon as less manly his whole life. He recounts how had he changed his entire appearance and even lowered his voice an octave to be more accepted by others, especially other men. This plays to gender role expectations we are raised with from childhood. To be a man, you must have a deep voice or else you may be considered less masculine or having feminine traits. Throughout the episode, we see Schmidt cast as different because he does not fit as neatly into masculine character traits as other men may do. This is shown through the scenes with the “Douchebag Jar” where money has to be put in each time Schmidt does something that is essentially overcompensating or seen as not being manly enough. Examples from this episode were: searching for driving moccasins, looking for his good pea-coat, or other criticisms for how he dresses or the names he calls certain things. These underlying gender role expectations are masked pretty nicely by the humor of the show, but men watching this show may be less inclined to dress a certain way or act a certain way based on the ridicule Schmidt receives.

Another way gender roles were played out were on the female side of the characters on this show. The biggest one that I saw as interesting was when Jess hires a stripper. She calls in and “orders” a stripper for Schmidt’s party, but when the stripper shows up, it is a man. Jess was obviously trying to hire a female stripper for Schmidt, but the stripper told her if they hear a female’s voice on the phone, they automatically send him. It is evident through this silly mix-up that it is generally more accepted for 1. men to hire a stripper rather than a female and 2. for a female to only hire a male stripper. That treads slightly into sexual identity as well, but it is expected and emphasized in this show for men to seek women and women to seek men and no other variation of that is really acceptable. Also, the role of Julia on the show, who was a new character this week, reveals at the end of the show that she has anger management issues and that she knows how to fight viciously with martial arts training. This stuck out to me because if it were a male who got into a fight on the show, it would invoke no real surprise in the viewing audience. But because it is a female character, it is viewed as more deviant from the norm, therefore draws more attention and laughs.

Watching the commercial during the shows did not reveal a whole lot to me. I could list every commercial that was played, but they didn’t really emphasize gender roles so much. There were a few car commercials, movie trailers and H&R Block commercials for taxes since it is that time of year. One commercial that stuck out to me was a VW commercial of a little boy asking “Is it fast?” throughout different stages of his life, whether it be for a bike or a car. At the end of the commercial, the man instead asks, “Is it safe?” and he is holding a baby. This was a good portrayal of how it seems society look a men as slightly less manly once they have a child versus being a childless bachelor. There was also a Pure Romance commercial for women during one of the commercial breaks and I thought that was a powerful reminder of how women are being more accepted as sexual beings nowadays instead of just men.

Response:

I’m not really the type of person to look that in depth at things like how gender is portrayed in media. I tend to take it for what it is, unless there is a blatant display of masculinity or femininity that is impossible not to address. Looking at this show more in depth made me realize how deeply rooted our expectations of gender roles truly are. I definitely tend to take a dominant view of shows like this and laugh and enjoy the humor. But some of the humor is masking a true look at how we understand males and females and the roles they play in every day life.