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Do Television Advertisements Stereotype the Roles of Men and Women in the Society?

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Media has advanced at an exponential rate from the dawn of the twenty first century. The most significant of advancements was in Television advertisements "Over the past three decades, children's estimated exposure to television advertising has doubled from an average of about 20,000 commercials per year in the late 1970s (Adler et al., 1977) to more than 40,000 commercials per year in the early 1990s (Kunkel & Gantz, 1992 as cited in Kunkel, 2001)" (Pike and Jennings, 2005, pg 83) making it a ideal avenue to reach out to large audience. Television advertisements have penetrated into all aspects of life such as "body", "car", "child", food" and "home" (Kaufman, 1999, pg445) making them increasingly power full in shaping our perception of the world. In the light of this, creating a self-identity and attaining self-realization without the influence of commercials is an arduous struggle. It is a widely held belief that in a patriarchal society like ours gender stereotyping is a popular culture, and since commercials are an expression of popular culture the question is weather they actually reinforces gender stereotypes? If so, do they stereotype the roles, behaviors, and appearances of men and women in the society? And in addition, do such gender stereotypes influence men and women the same way?

In order to answer these questions, it should be understood that Television Advertisements influence the perception of men, women and children towards gender. Over the years men have been depicted as a symbol of independence, masculinity, strength and adventure. Women on the other hand were an epitome of dependence, beauty, care and tameness. Furthermore, commercials showed men working outside the house where as women were placed in a domestic setting. This ideology has been revolutionized, "women have been expanding their roles to include working outside the home as well as being wives and mothers. At the same time, men's involvement in more domestic roles has increased (Gershuny & Robinson, 1998) but at a slower pace than women's entrance into the labor market" (Kaufman, 1999, pg 440). In addition, while women are open to all fields of commercial work, men are receptive to only a few areas of domestic work. I believe, that this is because men are required to adhere to the so-called "masculine image" drafted by the society to be accepted by it. Moreover, " Boys are often punished for participation in cross-gender play, whereas girls are rarely punished and may even be rewarded for cross-gender play" (Pike & Jennings, 2005, pg 88). Consequently, these sorts of norms and pressures laid upon men or boys tune their minds to pay closer attention to television advertisements, as well as make them more sensitive to gender stereotyped behavior than women or girls are. It is accepted that girls more often look upto their mothers or other



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