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Chapter 08.pdf

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Media Studies
Michael Petit

Critical Media Studies Chapter 8 Feminist Analysis Hair - important way we express who we are in society - Mark gender norms Biological quality of hair - A way we understand the cultural roles surrounding what it means to be masculine and feminine Feminist Scholars - How biological categories (male / female) become conflated with cultural gender expectations - resulting in discriminatory social systems that privilege men over women - concentrate: revealing the limiting nature of mass media texts that reinforce dominant social understandings of sex and gender - deconstruct theses oppressive systems in order to transform society into a fairer / equitable place for diverse peoples Feminism: An Overview Feminism - explores the diverse ways men and women are socially empowered or disempowered - movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression Sexism - discrimination based upon a person’s sex Feminism - reveal and eradicate socially ingrained systems of sexism that harm all individuals in some way - deconstruct sexist oppression present in our everyday norms and experiences Factors that Contribute to the Creation of a Sexist Social System Sex - innate, biological differentiation between men and women - anatomy , reproduction, hormones - biological facts: only women can give birth to children - categories: male + female - traits: chromosomes Gender - culturally constructed differences between men and women - tastes, roles, activities - gendered qualities: women are more nurturing and mothering - categories: masculine + feminine - traits: aggressiveness Trouble arises - confuse gendered qualities with sexual ones - Understanding culturally constructed norms as innate biological traits Essentialism - Belief that gender distinctions are innate and natural Patriarchy - System of power relations in which women’s interests are subordinated to those of men - views women in a way the devalues them - predominantly serving the interests of men Patriarchal systems - Empower men and disempower women by making constructed, gendered power imbalances seem natural and innate - Tangible benefits that men reap from this system make them less likely to challenge patriarchy - Puts pressure on men: demands that they show little emotion, avoid certain occupations, or act as the breadwinner for their families Stereotyping in the American Media Stereotype - Misleading and simplified representation of a particular social group - Damaging: gloss over the complex characteristics that actually define a social group and reduce its members to a few (usually unfavorable) traits - Result: social oppression and disempowerment of individuals within the stereotyped group Explanation for the presence of stereotypes in the media - men ( the socially powerful group) have greater access to media outlets as a function of their privilege - allows men to represent their particular perspectives on their social groups to the widest audiences - perspectives: often stereotypically reductionist (but become most widely known and accepted representations of these groups) Stereotyping - helps individuals make sense of an increasingly complex contemporary society - use past experiences make sense of future and present interactions - mental categories of people we carry with us - allow us to quickly process incoming information about strangers by greatly reducing the amount of information we have to take in - inaccurate form of mental shortcuts that allow us to quickly make snap judgments about individuals and move on - blend realistic aspects of life, material conditions, and social roles into inaccurate assumptions and false traits - socially oppressed groups will believe in stereotypes they see in the media to be true and emulate them - mimic reality by actually creating it - persist because it is difficult to distinguish their truth from falsity Media Stereotypes - media images: create and reinforce stereotypes + use them to attract customers - sitcom: foreign exchange student speaking in broken English - movie: group of black gang members Gendered Stereotypes in American Media Stereotypes of Masculinity - power, significance, agency, social influence Stereotypes of femininity - powerlessness, insignificance, passiveness, limited control Stereotypes of Masculinity and Feminity - reinforce patriarchal systems of power by supporting the domination of men over women Active / Passive Mainstream media representations - men and masculinity = strength + activity o depict men engaging in: sports, working with tools, driving powerful vehicles o depict men in: clear physical shape - women and feminity: passiveness and weakness o sit or stand beautifully (advertise a product) o dangerously overweight f
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