Lesson 1 Con't - Media's Influence Throughout One's Lifetime
Media targets all age groups. Messages about gender roles are first transmitted in one's childhood and are reinforced throughout one's lifetime. This section examines how gender roles are perpetuated in media addressed to audiences of all age groups.
Media Targeted at Children:
1. Looney Tunes - Pepé Le Pew
Pepé Le Pew, a French skunk, is a character in Looney Tunes, a popular animated cartoon series. In addition to implicitly teaching children French stereotypes, Pepé Le Pew sends important messages to children about love and relationships. Specifically, Pepé le Pew teaches children that men are the dominant gender by forcefully chasing after Penelope, his love interest, despite the fact that Penelope is not interested in him. By refusing to take ''no'' as an answer, Pepé le Pew is saying that it doesn't matter how Penelope feels about him. How he feels about Penelope is all that matters because he's the dominant gender.
2. Betty Boop - Betty Boop
Betty Boop is the main character in the animated cartoon series under the same name. Betty Boop influences children's understanding of gender roles by repeatedly sending clear messages about what it means to be a woman: submissive, sexy, innocent, and naive.
3. Who Framed Roger Rabbit - Jessica Rabbit
Jessica Rabbit, a character in the Disney film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, is another cartoon character who contributes to the negative portrayal of women in media targeted for children. With her small waist, large bust, and revealing clothing, Jessica Rabbit sends a clear message to children about gender roles: it's a woman's duty to be sexy and desirable.
4. Disney's Fairy Tale Films - The Princesses
Disney's fairy tale movies also contain important messages about gender roles. In these films, in addition putting strong emphasis on beauty, princesses are helpless, needy, and rely on men to save them. As a result, young children are led to believe that women have no control over their life story; they must rely on the dominant gender, the male hero.
Media Targeted at Teenagers:
1. Degrassi: The Next Generation and The Secret Life of the American Teenager
Television shows such as Degrassi: The Next Generation and The Secret Life of the American Teenager reinforce in teenagers gender roles that were introduced to them as children. For example, teen drama television emphasize a woman's need to have a man in her life, a message first introduced in children's media such as the Disney fairy tale films.
Media Targeted at Adults:
1. The Big Bang Theory - Penny
2. Action Films
The TV series The Big Bang Theory, a television show primarily enjoyed and watched by young adults, is an example of how gender roles continue to be perpetuated in media addressed for adults. Penny, the only main female character in the show, is the only character who does not have a post-secondary education. In addition to embodying the 'dumb blonde' stereotype, Penny's acting career is unsuccessful and she is promiscuous. Although one could argue that there are educated female characters on the show, the show's overarching message about gender roles for young adults is that women can either be physically attractive or educated; women, contrary to men, cannot have both.
Action movies such as Terminator, Indiana Jones, and G.I. Joe also perpetuate gender roles in adult media by showing that men must be violent, extremely fit, strong, and brave. The gaming industry is another medium that emphasizes hypermasculinity.
Overall, media first plants the seeds of gender stereotypes in children's cartoon characters but cultivates these seeds as individuals age through media targeted at teenagers and adults.