Archive for the ‘Gender Stereotypes’ Category

According to the Collins Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary, which I usually refer to, a stereotype means ‘a fixed general image or set of characteristics that a lot of people believe represent a particular type of person or thing.’ Not only this dictionary, but there are many wordbooks that define the stereotype as a ‘fixed’ conception or image. It is true that a stereotype is the concept that socially fixed in a certain way, and people live based on this social norm.  Becasue of this fixed stereotype, they can process tons of information everyday and make a decision without long hesitation.

However, at the same time we can say that  a steroetype is not fixed. It means that it can change. Even though it looks very confirmed and long-established, it might change as time goes or by ‘certain’ people in that society(Especially the changes by some people have a lot of issues that we can talk about. I will deal with this topic later in this blog). Of course, the change of it is not visual because it happens very slowly. For example, the stereotype that all the Asian people are good at math can change, but it’s not going to happen very quickly becuase stereotypes have been formed in their mind for a long time. It takes a time to be changed.

Here is one interesting example about it. Traditionally and internationally, a cigarette has been just for man. The woman who smokes have been considered as a ‘bad’ woman(even sometimes as a ‘whore’ or a ‘slut’). So, we can say that was a kind of gender stereotypes at that time. But, in 1967, Philip Morris decided to sell the cigarette to the women, and they made the advertising targetting women.

The thing is that they tried to make woman think that cigarette is a symbol of the woman’s right against man, and it worked very well. They totally changed the concept of smoking by woman. Maybe there are still some people who think about woman’s smoking very badly, but it’s true that it’s not like the past any more.

Here is my point about our project and this example. As I mentioned above, we need to focus more on the changes of the stereotype by ‘certain‘ people. In that case, we can say that ceratin people is the cigarette company, Philip Morris. Why did they put those kind of sentence – You’ve come a long way, baby – in their advertising? Was that because they REALLY worried about the woman’s right in the perspective of feminism? No. I don’t think so. They were doing that just because of ‘their interest’ not for ‘everyone’s interest’.

This concept is also related to ‘Hegemony‘ by Antonio Gramsci, who was an Italian philosopher, politician and political theorist. In next post, I will talk about this idea on a full scale, and also the role of the Internet against the ‘certain’ people who decide debate in the public sphere. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be interesting topic.

Thanks 🙂


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   In the article “stereotype in media”, Lily Gataullina said that media has become another althusserian ideological apparatus that control the mind of masses. Here I quote one paragraph as following.

Mass media became on of the main sources of popular culture in modern capitalist society. Media, however, not only entertains and offers news to people, but also transfers the stereotypes, beliefs and values of the society to reproduce the existing order of social life. Louis Althusser in his theory of ideological state apparatuses, says that schools, families, religions play the role of the ideological state apparatuses. These institutions invisibly transfer and indoctrinate the dominant hegemonic ideology of the society into the minds of people in order to be able to control people. In the modern capitalist world, I would argue, media turned to be yet another althusserian ideological apparatus that control the mind of masses.

    In fact, we can easily find plentys of examples about this arguement. For instance, in many movies we saw that males are usually the boss who dominant females, black people are always the poor who live in a dirty place, all women are desperate to get married, and all Muslim who wears turban are danger. These scenario might all be familiar to everyone, and they could have already been a stereotype in our mind. 

all women are desperate to get married ?

  However  we can not simply blame media system for providing such biased content, the audience has the great responsibility for judging and selecting the right information about what they seen or what they recieved. Moreover, media stereotype are inevitable, such as movies, advertising, news and entertainment, they all need to gain as much attraction or attention from audience as possible. And by using those stereotype in contents, it will be easier and quicker for the audience to understand and absorb those informations.  We do stereotype as a way of making sense of our surroundings, it allows us to understand a complex thing with a minimum of effort. But as I mentioned before, we still need use our own value and knowledge to process those informations when recieving them from the media system.

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Nowadays, I’m watching the American sitcom, ‘Friends’ which have been loved by many people all around the world. The episode that I watched today was about the ‘male nanny’. Ross and Racheal interviewed people to hire a nanny for their daughter, Emma. Then, the ‘guy’ named ‘Sandy’ knocked their door and came in to apply for the nanny. Rachel really liked that ‘sensitive’ guy as a nanny for Emma, but Ross didn’t like him because he thought it’s weird. However, at the end of the episode, Ross found that Sandy is the best nanny ever.

Look at the picture left (Children’s Museum Gender Stereotyping Game – Rancho Mirage, California). It’s very interesting. We see those two signals – Men and Women – in front of the public washroom almost every day. We just pass them without any interest, but whenever we  see them and pass it, certain gender stereotypes are formed in our mind automatically. The fourteen icons under the Men and Women signals are impling some professional jobs. The thing is that the only one gender represents the certain job. For example, firefighters, engineers and athletes are just for men. On the other hand, ballet dancer is for women.  In the website where I found this picture (http://www.wandco.com/projects/other_projects/CMD2.php), they are saying, “Are firefighters always men? Can golfers wearing pants be women? These magnetic bathroom sign symbols allow children to explore gender stereotypes in a playful way.”

Making these gender stereotypes and delivering thse ideas are very easy, and so they are very dangerous. Of course, there are lots of factors that have an influence on it, but the problem is that the Internet can show these gender stereotypes to people repeatedly and make it as a firm ‘fact‘ socially. These stereotypes can be delivered in several ways, such as some cartoons, music, or video clips. Think about the great influences of the ‘YouTube’ to the modern people and society. I believe it makes you understand those things much easily.

Lastly, I want to post one interesting article about Gender stereotypes. It explains why we want to meet gender expectation in the society. According to Nadya Avsievich, we have to follow certain ‘rules’ about gender role and if we don’t it could be ‘critical’. (http://www.vitryssland.nu/gender.html)

“Gender stereotypes, family and school”

 So why do we want to meet gender requirements and norms, why is it necessary for us to justify gender expectations? Speech by Nadya Avsievich on the International Seminar about gender stereotypes in Pinsk, Belarus, in November 2001.
The combination of informational pressure

So why do we want to meet gender requirements and norms, why is it necessary for us to justify gender expectations?
1. We get under normative pressure. We have to follow certain rules and justify the society’s expectations, not to be rejected by it. In some societies the refusal to follow gender norms can be very cruel.
2. We also experience informational pressure. Learning more about the world and ourselves, thinking what position to take we usually are guided by information giving to us by the others, but not by our own experience.
Thus before deciding what is right and what is wrong we try to find out what is right to other people’s mind. We consider that we behave in a right way until we behave the same way as the others.
The strong influence of gender norms on our behavior can be explained by the combination of informational pressure and normative pressure.
On the one hand social norms (stereotypes) simplify our life and reduce the number of apprehension processes. In our childhood we discover it and learn to follow them without thinking.
But on the other hand gender stereotypes limit the development of a human personality and lead to social inequality.
I would like to speak more about the stereotypes imposed on men in our society.
Men suffer of gender stereotypes, which require men’s social value to be measured by the amount of money they earn and their high position at work. This prevents men from being active in family sphere, taking care of children and household.
Stereotypes create machismo cult, push men to reckless, risky, aggressive actions in order to demonstrate their masculinity (“just send everybody and everything to hell and go ahead”).
Men are expected to be competent in all spheres. They regard it to be inconceivable if someone knows more or if someone thinks they behave in a wrong way.
Men are not allowed to show their feelings in public as well as to discuss thing concerning emotional sphere. This causes stresses and nervous breakdowns.
What can we do in order to make our society gender equal? What kind of role can people play in stereotype breaking?
People are not robots, programmed by the society. If they wish they can become rebels and change the social structure and introduce new models.
The ideas of minority can influence the majority’s mode of thinking.
When we look at people trying to get what is socially acceptable – people look at us! It means, that we can influence the changes much more than it seems to us. If we believe in gender equality, we should tell people around us about it. Of course this will influence other people’s mode of thinking (others are potentially ready to agree with us).
Also we should support people, organizations and parties, which stand for gender equality and make efforts to change gender stereotypes.



Reportage about the seminar in russian language:


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