This week I skim read and sourced relevant information from the books I collected from the college library, ‘Just like a girl’ by Sue Sharpe (1976), ‘Women, Men and Language’ by Jennifer Coates (1993) and ‘Media, Gender and Identity’ by David Gauntlett (2002). All of them proved very interesting and useful for my project. This concluded my theorist research which I have now starting writing up into my EPQ draft format.
I decided to primarily focus on the following theorists: Deborah Tannen, Robin Lakeoff, Jennifer Coates, Zimmerman and West, Trudgill and Cheshire, (briefly Hommes), Laura Mulvey, Tessa Perkins, Erving Goffman, Connell, David Gauntlett, Angela McRobbie, and Judith Butler.
Media theorists: Erving Goffman, David Gaunlett, Laura Mulvey (or Angela McRobbie/Tessa Perkins)
Lanugage: Robin Lakeoff, Deborah Tannen, Jennifer Coates
From the vast amount of available information on the study of gender stereotypes and language use within the media, this review will focus on the most relevant, reliable primary and secondary sources and only reference to ones which are most true to real life.
Erving Goffman (1979) used frame analysis to examine gender roles within advertising, both audio visual and …… advertsing, where he defined a framework as the principles of organization which govern social events and our interactions in them. He particularly focused on the portrayal of women in advertisements and coded it into six categories: relative size- assumed difference in size correlates with differences in social weights; feminine touch- women are pictured caressing or outlining objects or themselves which suggest nurturing instincts or a provocative intention; function ranking-men are represented top of occupational hierarchy whereas women are subordination; family- women are portrayed as the mother and loving wife, men are head of the unit; ritualization of subordination- women show sexual availability or act child-like; and licensed withdrawal- women are pictured in involvements which removes them psychologically. Despite his research having obvious flaws, he picked the commercials himself so this made have been influenced by his bias opinion and the fact his work was carried out some time ago, the basis of the ideas still apply to today’s method of advertising. For instance Doring and Poschl (2006) who examine mobile phone ads found women complied with the feminine touch, and engaged in subtle licensed withdrawal and ritualization of subordination more than men did. But their study did not evidence women engaging in all of goffmans coded behaviours, suggesting the are possibly less evident.
Laura Mulvey (1975) suggested the male gaze theory which states the female form is objectified in the media. “The message though was always the same: buy the product, get the girl; or buy the product to get to be like the girl so you can get your man” in other words, “‘Buy’ the image, ‘get’ the woman” (Wykes, p. 41). Even advertising aimed at women is not exempt: it engages in the mirror effect described above, wherein women are encouraged to view themselves as the photographer views the model, therefore buying the product in order to become more like the model advertising it.
Greer states that the beauty ideal puts a substantial amount of pressure on women. However, Walter 1998 argues women enjoy fashion and adornment. She is a feminist but refuses to see beauty and fashion advertising as a conspiracy to keep women down.
In terms of advances in language and gender research, Jespersen introduced the notion of the deficit approach. According to Jespersens research, male language is normative and the language of others is considered marked and different to the norm, it is deficient. However, his work had weakness, one being the perspective he wrote from. He himself as a man, privileges ‘men’s’ language as having more vigour, chief renovators of language and a more diverse vocabulary. His second weakness is his data collected. He uses quotations from literature and fictional examples which would not be strictly true to real life. Jespersen makes sweeping generalizations e.g the lexis ‘nice’ instead of fine must have originated from feminine peculiarity and women in all countries are shy of mentioning certain body parts. Robin Lakeoff (1980) developed this idea further and began to instigate the dominance approach which ascribes language variances between men and women to the dominance of men within society. It was a time of change after the large wave of feminist movement which inspired new ideology and change in Western culture. Here are some claims she made:
Hedge:using phrases like “sort of”, “kind of”, “it seems like”,and so on.
Use (super)polite forms:“Would you mind…”,“I’d appreciate it if…”, “…if you don’t mind”.
Use tag questions:“You’re going to dinner, aren’t you?”
Speak in italics:intonational emphasis equal to underlining words -so, very, quite.
Use empty adjectives:divine, lovely, adorable, and so on
Use hypercorrect grammar and pronunciation:English prestige grammar and clear enunciation.
Use direct quotation:men paraphrase more often.
Have a special lexicon:women use more words for things like colours, men for sports.
Use question intonation in declarative statements:women make declarative statements into questions by raising the pitch of their voice at the end of a statement, expressing uncertainty. For example, “What school do you attend? Eton College?”
Use “wh-” imperatives:(such as, “Why don’t you open the door?”)
Speak less frequently
Overuse qualifiers:(for example, “I Think that…”)
Apologise more:(for instance, “I’m sorry, but I think that…”)
Use modal constructions:(such as can, would, should, ought- “Should we turn up the heat?”)
Avoid coarse language or expletives
Use indirect commands and requests:(for example, “My, isn’t it cold in here?” – really a request to turn the heat on or close a window)
Use more intensifiers:especially so and very (for instance, “I am so glad you came!”)
Lack a sense of humour: women do not tell jokes well and often don’t understand the punch line of jokes.
However, she mainly used anecdotal evidence which may not be reliable.
Deborah Tannen undertook further research and popularized the difference approach (1990). This approach develops the two culture model of men and women where children are socialized within two separate groups. Professor Tannen has summarized her book Just Don’t Understand in an article in which she represents male and female language use in a series of six contrasts.
Status versus support
Men grow up in a world in which conversation is competitive – they seek to achieve the upper hand or to prevent others from dominating them. For women, however, talking is often a way to gain confirmation and support for their ideas. Men see the world as a place where people try to gain status and keep it. Women see the world as “a network of connections seeking support and consensus”.
Independence versus intimacy
Women often think in terms of closeness and support, and struggle to preserve intimacy. Men, concerned with status, tend to focus more on independence. These traits can lead women and men to starkly different views of the same situation. Professor Tannen gives the example of a woman who would check with her husband before inviting a guest to stay – because she likes telling friends that she has to check with him. The man, meanwhile, invites a friend without asking his wife first, because to tell the friend he must check amounts to a loss of status. (Often, of course, the relationship is such that an annoyed wife will rebuke him later).
Advice versus understanding
Deborah Tannen claims that, to many men a complaint is a challenge to find a solution:
“When my mother tells my father she doesn’t feel well, he invariably offers to take her to the doctor. Invariably, she is disappointed with his reaction. Like many men, he is focused on what he can do, whereas she wants sympathy.”
Information versus feelings
A young man makes a brief phone call. His mother overhears it as a series of grunts. Later she asks him about it – it emerges that he has arranged to go to a specific place, where he will play football with various people and he has to take the ball. A young woman makes a phone call – it lasts half an hour or more. The mother asks about it – it emerges that she has been talking “you know” “about stuff”. The conversation has been mostly grooming-talk and comment on feelings.
Historically, men’s concerns were seen as more important than those of women, but today this situation may be reversed so that the giving of information and brevity of speech are considered of less value than sharing of emotions and elaboration.
Women often suggest that people do things in indirect ways – “let’s”, “why don’t we?” or “wouldn’t it be good, if we…?” Men may use, and prefer to hear, a direct imperative.
Conflict versus compromise
“In trying to prevent fights,” writes Professor Tannen “some women refuse to oppose the will of others openly. But sometimes it’s far more effective for a woman to assert herself, even at the risk of conflict. ”
This situation is easily observed in work-situations where a management decision seems unattractive – men will often resist it vocally, while women may appear to accede, but complain subsequently. Of course, this is a broad generalization – and for every one of Deborah Tannen’s oppositions, we will know of men and women who are exceptions to the norm.
Jennifer Coates (1980-1990) researched differences in communicative competence and discovered women talk more than men, women gossip more, men swear more than women, women are more polite and indirect. She also continued zimmerman and wests research which showed men overlap and interrupt in mix six conversations, infringing womens right to speak, but rarely do when speaking in a single sex group. The fact women do not over lap men implies they are concerned not to violate the mans turn. It is women who normally fall silent in conversations. There role is passive. Men dominant conversational topic which was mainly discovered by a theorist called Leet-Pellegrini (1980). Pellegrini look at the interaction of the independent variables speakers gender and expertise. Males act well informed on topics, whereas women are uninformed so talk less, use minimal responses and other supportive linguistic behaviour. Conversationl dominance establishes unambiguously that it is men who control floor time in mixed interactions. Spencer found men contributed 70% of the words in the discussions he observed. Coates herself found women discuss there role as a occupation (house talk). The bitch, chat and enjoy scandal. Women also lower there voice in mixed sex interactions to adopt a more masculine tone to fit in. They are more accepting and agree with others views, whereas men are more likely to disagree and voice there own opinions. They use epistemic modality to respect the other speakers face needs.
*It is part of folklinguistics, and has also been asserted by linguists that women are more polite than men. Brown and Levinson (1987) define politeness in terms of face theories. Women avoid face threatening behavior by accompanying speech with an apology.
David Gauntlett (2002) is a British sociologist and media theorist. He specializes in studying contemporary media audiences, the every making and sharing digital media, and the role of such media in self-identity and self-expression. Gaunlett research focused on gender identity and how it has become less constricted to previous representation. He presents the idea that we create our own unique identity that doesn’t necessarily follow traditional understandings of gender. It is far more acceptable to be different and accepted for our individuality. He believes men and women are more equal as they are depicted working side by side in advertising. Advertisers have now realized that people laugh at the stereotypical pretty housewife, and instead show sexy images of women at work. Gay characters are prominent on TV and discussions of the rights of marginalized groups have also surfaced within popular culture. Producers have realized nowadays to take social roles relatively seriously, and to be more precise, have learned it’s not good business to offend customers by sexist stereotypes. Yet, some cases still show women as housewifes and the UK supermarket chain Iceland is still using the slogan ‘that’s why mums go to Iceland’ in the twenty-first-centuary. An investigation in 2000 found women are twice as likely to appear commercials advertising domestic products, and another investigation by Coltrane and Messineo found individuals that are male are more likely o enjoy more prominence and exercise more authority. Feminist discourses were opted by advertisers to sell things to women using the notion of freedom or liberation in 1990. Emergence of gays into mainstream media in 2000. The deterioration in negative attitudes towards homosexuals is due to soaps like eastenders that had a young gay couple 1996-1999, and more recently boy meets girl 2015 which includes transsexuals.