Mass Media And Gender In The 1950s

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Mass media has influenced gender norms in the United States since the 1950’s when television became a household phenomenon. Per Jacqueline Coombs in an article titled Gender Differences in the Influence of Television on Gender Ideology, she asserts, “television is a powerful source in disseminating information and shaping opinion, exposing people from many different social settings to the same messages” (207). These messages can influence gender norms and reinforce personal gender identity. Throughout the evolution of television, gender roles have expanded portraying women as leading character. However, there is still an undercurrent of patriarchal ideology. The early 1950’s and 1960’s television portrayed women in traditional gender…show more content…
Her boss was “Lou Grant” who served as the patriarch of the show. Another female on the show was “Phyllis”, a homemaker and mother who worked for her husband. This show was a hybrid of the classic patriarchal dominated family structure but still contained elements of stereotypical gender roles and norms. Another example of this hybrid show was Cagney and Lacey. This show features two women as police detectives. The women reported to male in the role of chief. One of the lead characters was married with a family, and the other was a single woman. These women had an individual approach to gender as related to gender norms. They had careers in a non-traditional gender sphere as police detectives however they still sought to conform to the gender norm of wife and mother. These shows continued to be produced, written and directed by a predominately male staff with an occasional female writer or consultant. Women’s roles were changing in society from the strictly female as gather or homemaker to include a second shift for the female characters. The males in these scenarios continued to hold power and authority over the female characters. Television messages continued to evolve in the 21st century influencing American youth. Young men watch television and see hegemonic masculinity on display. Even shows with strong female leads display this type of behavior. Current shows like Grey’s Anatomy with its diverse social
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