Gender Stereotypes in Advertising and the Media

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| Gender Stereotypes in Advertising and the Media | | | | |


According to Surviving for Thriving, a nonprofit organization that helps victims of rape and sexual assault, one out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetimes. This means that a total of 17.7 million women have been victims of these crimes. While these numbers may or may not come as a shock to you, the real surprise is where they start (Surviving to Thriving, 2008).
Due to rapid advances in technology and the effects of globalization we have facilitated the emergence of a media saturated world. While the media’s consistent presence has provided us with countless advantages, many negatives have also emerged.
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Both of these perspectives provide a fundamental understanding of how and why gender stereotypes are so powerful in today’s society but they fail to explain how gender stereotypes started. In order to truly understand the power that stereotypes yield, we must first examine the historical context that gave rise to their existence.
Gender stereotyping evolved with the emergence of a consumerist culture. It was vital for companies to exploit pre-existing stereotypes in attempts to attract new and loyal customers to their products (Browne, 1998). Today, gender stereotypes are visible in every form of media: in Hollywood movies, magazines, television commercials and advertising campaigns. Gender stereotypes are often used as a marketing tool because these values have been instilled in our society for centuries and consequently, consumers view these depictions as truthful (Bessenoff & Del Priore, 2007).
While the obsession with female beauty began in the 1830s when women began to compete professionally with men, we cannot truly understand modern conceptions of beauty until we examine the historical roots of Western ideals. Notions of “Perfect Beauty” and body ideals stem from the Greek arts. Initially, a nude male torso was considered perfection while female nudity was taboo (Wolf, 2002). These
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