Week eleven-Drafting discussion

This week I have continued drafting and have got quite far with my essay. Although it will need proof reading and rearranging. It is currently 7377 words. I mainly focused on the discussion which includes my advert analysis’s, my survey results, and counter theorists who have other ideas about gender depiction. Below is some more counter theorist research I completed based on the queer theory by Judith Butler.

Queer theory

  • Nothing in your identity is fixed
  • Your identity is little more than a pile of things which you have previously expressed, or which have been said about you.
  • There is not really an inner self. We come to believe we have one through the repetition of discourses about it.
  • Gender is a performance.
  • People can change
  • The divide between masculinity and femininity is a social construction built on the binary divide between men and women.
  • We should challenge traditional views on sexuality by causing ‘gender trouble’

Judith Butler expresses her concerns in Gender trouble about the way feminism had treated women as a single and coherent group. In order for feminists to argue about female treatment they must refer to them as a group. They are highlighting the sex differences. She saids it is not your body that determines your sex or gender or identity. Therefore feminists should campaign for the proliferation of identities.

However Tim Edwards 1998 criticized the theory saying identities are unstable , has little texts from real life, , seeing gender as a discourse ignores the significance of the real world etc. Overall, the queer theory is a mix of social construction theory and a call to action sine identities are not fixed neither to the body nor to the self. We can perform gender however we like. Certain characteristics for males and females have been learnt, but we can break them by choice. Spreading untraditional images and adverts like some are all ready doing, the mass media can play a high and valuable role in shattering preconceived gender assumptions which continue to constraint peoples ability to be expressive and literate.


Week ten-more writing and research

This week I have mainly focused on developing my draft and structuring it in the right format. I also did abit more research into theorists, mainly those who disagree with the use of stereotypes (see below).

Angela McRobbie theory on the Illusion of Equality for Women

She explains how people perceive certain genders from the media, for instance of you see someone reading a Cosmopolitan magazine you automatically think that they are interested in fashion trends and sex. She argues that too many people post negative reviews about magazines such as Cosmopolitan because they are unhappy with their lives but what sort of magazine would people want if Cosmopolitan wasn’t around? She believes that the representation of gender roles in the media is how we look at each gender differently, each gender has specific traits because we are told by the media that all men or all women are a certain way. For instance, females are seen in modern society as weak, subservient, helpless, emotional with common roles like being a mother, nurse and carer. On the other hand males are seen as masculine, powerful, strong and dumb. The media makes it out like each gender acts a specific way and no one in that gender are different, these stereotypes are not a true reflection of the large majority of how each gender acts. Angela McRobbie says that “If ‘Dress A’ for example was worn by two different people, one being a famous celebrity and one being someone who hasn’t been blown up by the media, the dress would get different reactions” this quote shows that people give different reactions to certain things. Even though she accepts the fact that some women in the media are shown in a negative, sexual and ‘weaker’ role she thinks that it is infact a good thing. Unlike the general view of females and feminists who feel that the representation of women is wrong she thinks that some representations empower women and show them off as sexually powerful, dominating and clearly better than a lot of men.

Angela McRobbie: Well in the last 10 to 15 years I became incredibly interested in the way in which there seem to have developed a kind of an illusion of equality. There was something very specific, something different from the previous period where it was quite easy as a feminist to point to areas where it was absolutely obvious that young women were discriminated against, and where there was obvious inequality. And what really prompted my attention was the way in which actually quite the opposite seemed to be the case. It almost appeared as though people genuinely thought that women, particularly young women, had somehow gained equality. And I wanted to interrogate that as a social scientist, because it felt very dubious.

Queer theory- see book

Tessa Perkins (1979)

Rethinking Stereotypes – (Tessa Perkins)

1. Stereotypes are not always wrong

2. They are not always negative concepts

3. They are about groups with whom we have little or no social contact; by implication, therefore, they are not held about our own group(s)

4. They are not always about minority (or oppressed) groups

5. They can be simple or complicated

6. They are not rigid and can change

7. People often believe some parts of a stereotype but not always all

Argues that stereotyping is not a simple process. She identified that some of the many ways that stereotypes are assumed to operate aren’t true. They aren’t always negative, they are aren’t always about a minority group, they aren’t always false- must be supported by empirical evidence and they are not always rigid and unchanging. Perkins says that if stereotypes were always so simple then they would not work culturally and over time.

Martin Barker ( 1989)

saids stereotypes are condemned for misrepresenting the ‘real’ world.

Gay Gaze- Steve Neale ( 1992)

Rosalind Brunt (1992)

details that ideologies are never simple ideas in people’s heads but are indeed myths that we live by and which contribute to our self worth.

A family friend of mine also goes to Sussex university and has given me their password to use the library resources. So I have also been looking through articles and journals on this topic, but some are very complex and not based in the UK. I will need to do a thorough search.

Week nine- Drafting

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.

Literature review

Media theorists: Erving Goffman, David Gaunlett, Laura Mulvey (or Angela McRobbie/Tessa Perkins)

Lanugage: Robin Lakeoff, Deborah Tannen, Jennifer Coates

Sociology: Connell

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.

Tessa Perkins…

Judith Butler…

Week eight- Theorist research and advert analysis

This week I have emailed my proposal form to Erin (EPQ coordinator) as it is due in this Friday. I continued my theorist research using the internet and also collected some more books from the library which are based on the theorists research. This includes: ‘Women, Men and Language’ by Jennifer Coates published 1993, ‘Just like a girl’ by Sue Sharpe published 1994 and ‘Media, Gender and identity’ by David Gauntlett published 2002. I have continued analysing my survey but need to finish it off this week. Also I have chosen the adverts and analysed them. I will type this into my draft and expand on the points made.

Always like a girl (2014) 

The advertisement subverts the conventional gender assumptions by asking individuals to perform actions in the way a ‘girl’ would. The simile ‘Like a girl’ is a clear example of semantic derogation were a sense of negative connotation has become attached to it.  Women doing things an inferior way to men. Men and women of an older age depict there physical inability to throw and fight, whereas young girls with little awareness or absorption to socially construction views do not conform to what is expected. This degrading language use suggests being a girl is something wrong.

Running like a girl is a poor effort, with one individual referencing to her appearance ‘my hair’ as its assumed women are obsessed with their image. Media has particularly influence the one we believe we should behave. Females are more fragile and delicate whereas men participate in physical sports. Again, media plays are role in this as often they only air coverage of mens sports, showing little sports diversity. The ad is showing how this stereotypes affect females confidence as they grow up and eventually understand what it means to be a girl. One girl says ‘I actually don’t know what it means, really, it sounds like a bad thing. It sounds like you’re trying to humiliate someone’

It implies female are a weaker sex. Should not a ashamed. Should be themselves.

MoneySuperMarket (2015) 

This advert subverts the assumptions that men should be masculine and macho by depicting a man strutting wearing high heels and hot pants, clearly possessing feminine qualities. This would of not been acceptable to an older audience as acting ‘camp’ or being transgender was viewed badly and is an example of semantic deterioration. Sharon Obsorne then saids ‘Dave darling, your so money super market’. The term ‘darling’ is a particularly feminine and demonstrates intimacy and a close relationship, but it is rare to hear men use it in their vocabulary and also rare for them to be referred to as darling. It is more a gender term used for women, often someone you love and demonstrates possession. It can be seen as quite degrading and takes away someones identity to some extent.

Cif (2015)

This animated commercial depicts the stereotype that women should be in charge of domestic duties. It also implies women are delicate and princess like, in need of saving. This is meant to appeal to women who would like to lift the curse of horrid streaks.

Hugo Boss(2015)

This advertisement plays heavily on our ideal expectation of men and women. This has caused a large influence on how each gender feels they need to look e.g men and muscular and women as flawless. This perfume ad and very much all perfume commercial depicts sexual behaviour to entice the audience. It conforms to Erving Goffman’s research : relative size, shielding, licensed withdrawal and feminine touch. The fact the male is insinuates the sexual behaviour shows dominance and authority. The women outlines and touches the males body suggesting provocative intentions and nurturing in instincts. Suggests males are sex driven. The women is shown as emotionally. The women also shields herself behind him showing reliance and protection. They also shown to snuggle things. It’s a form of partial withdrawal. But if nuzzling a partner, it is impersonal and a way of relying on them. Women rarely provide comfort to men as they are thought to be masculine.

Pantene (2014)

‘Sorry, not sorry’. This advertisement focuses on the idea that women are less direct and typically adopt repressive discourse strategies. The use epistemic modality, are too in touch with their emotions and regularly apologize to avoid face threatening acts as depicted in the commercial. However, it’s important to realize the context. The producers of the shampoo are trying to appeal to an female audience who lack self-confidence and need gain more authority. The product ultimately exploits gender stereotypes to achieve this

Survey discussion

Clearly change in society has occurred, which has subdued are awareness to exploitation of stereotypes and clouded our view to there existence anymore. However, my knowledge from learning in English prompted me to start critically analyzing audio visual advertising, so much I can know longer ignore the obvious gender imbalance. Theorists have identified key factors in gender approaches in adverts and in society which in turn influences what is depicted in the media, but I wanted to carry out research myself and gather primary sources. 35 responses for a survey has provided me with evidence which I know is unbiased and has been sourced reliably, to think gender stereotypes are very much exercised in commercials and portray an inaccurate representation of gender.

We can not continue our ignorance to stereotypes, especially as it appears numerous individuals agree that gender representation is highly inaccurate (see figure 2). 82.86% of the people questioned agree that gender depiction is inaccurate and only 17.14% think that it is true to real life. The graph implicates that gender is still a current affair that needs to be resolved so sexism and gender discrimination by producers is reduced to a minimum or is virtually non-existence. However, other evidence indicates despite gender representation seeming inaccurate nowadays, it seems attitudes towards sex where much harsher and rigid in the past and trends suggest an improvement ( see figure 3). Clearly attitudes towards gender are becoming more equal, but it is no way near perfect and a long distance must be covered to truly diminish these views and there role in advertising. If not, they will have long term damaging effects and consequences which I will discuss further using evidence from my survey. Such as for emotional and mental difficulty, eating disorders and abuse.

It was interesting to read the following responses for the question, ‘Do you conform to a stereotype and if so why?’.

  1. Like most women I worry about my weight, and to some extent appearance, but feel as an old Feminist didn’t ought to worry to much.

  2. Women wear makeup and have to dress nice whenever they go some wear whereas men don’t make any effort

  3. Women always portray the parental figure, whereas men never are

  4. Women want to be like the role models presented by the media’

  5. In a way- yes, because I do buy make up and feminine products, meaning on some level I do care about my appearance despite feeling like I don’t want to conform to stereotypes

  6. It’s how we’ve all grown up e.g more men than women like football

  7. Due to advertisement and in magazines. I personally think celebrities have a big impact as they wrongly show how appearances should be.

  8. I feel I have to fit in with what people expect of you. Their is a certain body image to comply to, which is pretty and slim’

  9. anxiety/fear over being judged and not accepted

  10. I feel under pressure to sometimes adopt more masculine characteristics as I work in a managerial job so much be direct and sometimes harsh. I flex my qualities.

The results reinforce the conventional attitudes society holds and expects of each sex e.g women act feminine and men act masculine. However, despite majority linking to these ideas, one stands out from the others. The individual who works in a managerial job combats the idea mostly men work in senior or higher paid jobs as they indeed were a female. But due to having this job, it has been necessary to adopt masculine characteristics to fulfill there role which may also explain how they got to that position, by being direct and authoritative. This links to the theorist hommes (2000).

My results show many individuals are consciously aware of gender stereotypes within advertising, majority observing 6-10 a week with depict gender representations. About 42.42%, but this did not differ greatly with those who believed they were exposed to 0-5 on average, 36.36%. I feel this coincides with our attitudes to change and have been made to think the rigid gender boundaries have diminished, which they have in some extent due to large scale events like WW2 and the increase in feminist enthusiasm during this time e.g the suffragettes. Laws have gained women the right to vote and the equal pay act come into force. This explains why 40% (14 people) of the people I surveyed agreed that attitudes towards gender has changed over the past ten years compared to 34.29% saying it has worsened. In my opinion, I think our vision is clouded by our knowledge of historical contexts, to the point where we have almost become immune to frequent exposure to gender stereotypes and taboo language, meaning many inaccurate gender representations go unnoticed by the public. It is only when you research into the topic and are abit of a feminist like myself do you realize gender divisions are not entirely a think of the past.

Our ideal gender representations proved an fascinating read;

Men are always represented on tv to have six packs or be obsessed with sport etc which isn’t ideal


Handsome, wealthy, independent

Funny, nice and a sports fan.

They don’t exist

Masculine toned man with a sensitive side

most people want sixpack Big chest

I have a divided opinion, men should conform to masculine stereotypes but also are allowed to be sensitive at the same time.

Well dressed, head strong and ambitious

These more of less fit the typical assumptions society has invented. Men must appear masculine and a sports fanatic which connotes the difference approach where men and women have different attitudes and discuss different topics. There is also the idea that men take little responsibility in domestic duties whereas women take a more active role and perhaps discuses house talk. However, the results were very divided with many agreeing men and women should be presented and held as equals.

Clean cut, gentlemen and shares household responsibilities.

Same women

As equal to women

Again doesn’t fall under much stereotyping and who just does the same things that a women does, or the stereotypical things a women does.

My ideal representation of men is the same for that as women, an independent, strong willed, fairly treated individual of whom cares about the people they call friends and does their utmost to contribute to society in any means they can. They are, like everyone else, treated as an equal.

Strong, Comfortable in their own skin, sucessful

A protector, smart and educated man and kind boss.

Slightly more domesticated than they already are.

A sensitive guy who cares deeply about others feelings and isn’t overly macho

I would like the harmful stereotype broken that males have to be strong all the time. Media and advertising holds a responsibility to “normalise” healthy behaviours in men otherwise I feel strongly they are doing them a misjustice. For example, statistics show there are many more men wearing makeup than media and society would leave us to believe. Having men in make up adverts could normalise this and stop harmful stereotypes.

Similar to women but I think there’s too much stereotype in male advertising that men should be good looking and extremely masculine

A man who is confident and funny. Takes pride in their appearance but doesn’t have to be muscular or take steroids to achieve the look they want

Same as women – everyone should be free to make their own decisions

Majority feel the ideal representation of men would be to be represented the same as a women.