Friday, August 6, 2010

Blog Post 4: Action Figures: Educators of the Male Gender Role


While shopping for James, a three year old, I found that many of the action figures targeted towards him were fashioned with guns, light sabers, and other tools of destruction and violence.  Even at the tender age of three, toy marketers don’t spare James from the violence associated with masculinity.  The fairly friendly Buzz Light Year of Toy Story is depicted with a devilish grin and is pointing a laser at the viewer, and there is a whole set of hamsters described as “special forces” or “ninjas” complete with a battle arena.  Many of the toys targeted towards boys suggest inherent combativeness and competitiveness in masculinity. Before young boys are even able to consciously perceive the constructs of the male gender on their own, such advertisements and a spectrum of toys introduce and begin reinforcing the socially fabricated ideology in which masculinity means control, power, and conflict.  The most powerful and dynamic influence toys and marketers have on young boys is that they teach them how society distinguishes gender roles and in particular, how our culture considers violence and the male gender role to go hand in hand.

Toy companies’ depiction of violence in association with masculinity is extremely influential on young boys because it grants them a sense of comfort and peace of mind in knowing their place and how they are expected to behave as a male in a world still so foreign and unknown to them.  As Jackson Katz states in a discussion of masculinity and violence, “By helping to differentiate masculinity from femininity, images of masculine aggression and violence-including violence against women-afford young males across class a degree of self-respect and security (however illusory) within the more socially valued masculine role” (352).    Unfortunately, toys send a message to young boys which includes a sense of gender supremacy, but at the age of three, boys won’t even question this illusion of masculinity as they grow and openly seek a sense of self of which a gender role is a defining component.

In addition, toy companies and advertisers ultimately dictate a young boy’s very perception of differentiation between males and females because they are the creators of the fantasy world in which toddlers play and the characters toddlers imitate (Jhally 254).  Nearly all of the action figures from Toys ‘R’ Us geared towards 3 year old boys come equipped with weaponry or a fiendish pose, while those marketed towards young girls seem to have lesser prevalence of weapons and more smiling figures with bright colors.    Sut Jhally illustrates the effects of these marketing strategies when he states, “Since the marketing targets and features different emotional and narrative elements (action/conflict vs. emotional attachment and maintenance) boys and girls experience difficulty in playing together with these toys” (254).  Thus, a gender dichotomy is already being established for children by the age of three if not earlier.  An impactful consequence of such an early establishment of the gender dichotomy is that as well as sending the message to young impressionable boys that it’s okay to be violent, it suggests to them that girls are weak, inferior, and overtly emotional.

Works Cited
Colvin, Richard Lee.  “violent.”  JPEG file.  2007.  http://www.earlyedcoverage.org/child_care/.
“coop2.”  JPEG file.  2007. 
Costume Supercenter.  “145805-2T.”  JPEG file.  2010.  http://www.costumesupercenter.com/boys+costumes-occupational.html?viewall=true.
Discovery Health.  “oppositional-defiance-disorder-1.”  JPEG file.  http://health.howstuffworks.com/pregnancy-and-parenting/childhood-conditions/oppositional-defiant-disorder.htm
Jhally, Sut.  “Image-Based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture.”  Gender Race and Class in Media.  Eds.  Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003.  249-257.  Print.
Katz, Jackson.  “Advertising and the Construction of Violent White Masculinity: From Eminem to Clinique for Men.”  Gender Race and Class in Media.  Eds.  Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003.  349-358.  Print.
Time for a Change.  “13275045_afd171f3f0.”  JPEG file.  2008.  http://www.timeforachange.org.uk/Blog/2008/11/violent-children.html.
Toussaint, Kent.  “boy-violent-sticks.” JPEG file.  2008.  http://www.kenttoussaint.com/cluesonkids-002.htm
Toys ‘R’ Us.  “pTRU1-5412040reg.”  JPEG file.  2010.  http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3366517.
Toys ‘R’ Us.  “pTRU1-5842834reg.”  JPEG file.  2010.  http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3532895.
Toys ‘R’ Us.  “pTRU1-5878165reg.”  JPEG file.  2010.  http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3546235.
Toys ‘R’ Us.  “pTRU1-6594334reg.”  JPEG file.  2010.  http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3760336.
Toys ‘R’ Us.  “pTRU1-6935559t130.”  JPEG file.  2010.  http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3914628.
Toys ‘R’ Us.  “pTRU1-6937833t130.”  JPEG file.  2010.  http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3916137.
Toys ‘R’ Us.  “pTRU1-6937706reg.”  JPEG file.  2010.  http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3916215
Toys ‘R’ Us.  “pTRU1-7084283t130.”  JPEG file.  2010.  http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3963976.
Toys ‘R’ Us.  “pTRU1-7084313reg.” JPEG file.  2010.  http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3963921.
Toys ‘R’ Us. “pTRU1-7365239reg.”  JPEG file.  2010.  http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4033531.
Toys ‘R’ Us.  “pTRU1-7365251reg.”  JPEG file.  2010.  http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4033538.
Toys ‘R’ Us.  “pTRU1-7475292reg.”  JPEG file.  2010.  http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4070608.
Toys ‘R’ Us.  “pTRU1-7475395reg (1).”  JPEG file.  2010.  http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4070630.  

Friday, July 30, 2010

Miley's Been Tamed: Blog Post 3

 Miley Cyrus-Can't Be Tamed
video
This student-created production is covered under the Fair Use codes US copyright law. Specifically, Section 107 of the current Copyright Act and Section 504(c)(2) cover the educational-basis of this video production. The production is intended to be a transformative remake, aiding in both student and public media literacy.  The use of copyrighted material is in the service of constructing a differing understanding than the original work, which according to Section 110 (1) (2), is to be treated as a new cultural production. This student-production is in no way limited to the protections provided by the Fair Use codes stated above due to the many other sections of the current US Copyright Act, which also include the principles of Fair Use. 
Please refer to Fair Use principles when re-posting, quoting, and/or excerpting the video-production posted here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Sex Room" the (real)mix



This student-created production is covered under the Fair Use codes US copyright law. Specifically, Section 107 of the current Copyright Act and Section 504(c)(2) cover the educational-basis of this video production. The production is intended to be a transformative remake, aiding in both student and public media literacy.  The use of copyrighted material is in the service of constructing a differing understanding than the original work, which according to Section 110 (1) (2), is to be treated as a new cultural production. This student-production is in no way limited to the protections provided by the Fair Use codes stated above due to the many other sections of the current US Copyright Act, which also include the principles of Fair Use. 
Please refer to Fair Use principles when re-posting, quoting, and/or excerpting the video-production posted here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mommy Dearest: Femininity and Masculinity and what it means to be a woman or a man

Mary F. Rogers describes non-normative occupations as those which are, “widely considered inappropriate for a given gender” (96).  In considering non-normative occupations, focus tends to be placed on women gaining power, and  people tend to forget about the ever increasing number of men in traditionally female occupations such as male nurses and stay at home dads.  In a recent episode of ABC’s “Wipeout”, one such stay at home dad, Tucker Carney, was ridiculed to the point that he was considered one of the ladies and was referred to as “Mommy Dearest” throughout the context of the show.  Although a man and a father, he was portrayed by commentators as the embodiment of femininity.  Mommy Dearest’s struggles help to demonstrate how socially constructed perceptions of femininity and masculinity are associated with occupations and are defining elements in what it means to be a man or a woman in today’s society.

It seems sewn into our culture’s beliefs that a woman’s-not a man’s-utmost priority should be to be a good mother and to take care of the home.  Under these pretexts, Mommy Dearest actually exhibits femininity quite well.  Because of cultural presumptions with regards to femininity and the supposedly inherent corresponding knack women have for nurturing, it is hard for stay at home dads like Mommy Dearest to be accepted in modern society.    Mommy Dearest is the subject of extreme ridicule and even earned the nickname Mommy Dearest in the first place because his occupation and that of his spouse deviate so far from the norm.

According to Johnson, “cultural ideas that identify women primarily as mothers and men primarily as breadwinners support patterns in which women do most domestic work at home” (96).  The “patterns” Johnson speaks of help to solidify the norm against which Mommy Dearest’s lifestyle exists.  Johnson goes on to state, “such ideas are powerful because we use them to construct a sense of who we and other people are” (97).  Such judgments by others and of himself would make it hard for Mommy Dearest to find acceptance among men.

A measurement of masculinity is often a measure of certain things men don’t do.  For instance, boys are taught that they aren’t supposed to cry, be overly sympathetic, play with Barbies, or be good at cooking or domestic work.  In short, not acting in ways our culture considers feminine is essentially a measurement of masculinity and what it means to be a man.  In this sense, Mommy Dearest is portrayed with absolutely no masculinity in “Wipeout”.

Newman makes a similar point with regards to gender when he states, “For boys and men, it usually means things like being assertive, not overtly displaying certain emotions, and not nurturing others, especially other adults” (54).  Mommy Dearest went to the opposite extreme and actually baked and distributed cookies to the producers on the set prior to filming the episode.  Newman’s argument also supports Mommy Dearest’s lack of masculinity.
("Anderson Can't Dance")
The extent to which his actions do not line up with what is expected of men accentuates Mommy Dearest’s level of femininity.  He arrives on set wearing an apron and is quoted saying, “I’ve embraced the motherhood side of family and learned to bake and cook and do those sorts of things.” (ABC).  Having heard this, the commentators automatically associate Mommy Dearest with women and poke fun at this notion for the duration of the episode.  Without a doubt, motherhood is portrayed by pop culture in light of femininity.  He actually portrays what it means to society to be a woman more so than what it means to be a man because of what our culture expects from certain genders.  These expectations are deep seated in current society and are a huge factor in why Mommy dearest is portrayed with so much femininity and little to no association with what it means to be a man.

Newman explains societal expectations of genders when he states, “Early on, children begin to learn about gender through socialization” (54).  He continues this argument to include how people learn appropriate perceptions of masculinity and femininity, and they learn to practice gender suitable conduct (Newman 54).  According to these standards, Mommy dearest behaves as is suitable for someone of the opposite gender, and one can easily see how he might be labeled as abnormal and as a man absorbed in femininity.

The femininity associated with his chosen occupation leaves our culture perceiving him as the epitome of a woman, and yet Mommy Dearest is undoubtedly a man.  In reality, there is nothing wrong with his lifestyle.  It simply seems out of place because he is a man with an occupation associated with tremendous femininity. Femininity is certainly a defining factor in what it means to be a woman in this world, however, Mommy Dearest serves as an important reminder that the premises of femininity are nothing but manmade principles.   

The idea of constructionism illustrates the creation of norms which leave Mommy Dearest labeled as abnormal.  Newman defines constructionism as a field of thought which argues, “that what we know to be real and essential is always a product of culture and the historical period in which we live” (36).  Newman applies the idea of constructionism to gender when he states, “What it means to be male or female, how you're supposed to look, and the things you're expected to do by virtue of being labeled male or female are entirely dependent on the societal, historical, and even the familial context in which you live.” (53)  Gender expectations and roles created by us determined the degree to which Mommy Dearest was conveyed as womanlike.  Despite being manmade, these presumptions are omnipotent in assigning perceptions of femininity and masculinity which in turn define what it means to be a woman or a man.  That much of the femininity associated with Mommy Dearest is assumed based on his occupation, suggests that one’s job is ultimately a defining character of what a woman is and what a man is in today’s world.

Perhaps simply a victim of the expectations of this time period, Mommy Dearest was the subject of ridicule throughout the entire “Wipeout” episode and was referred to as a “woman” or “mother” simply because of the femininity associated with his occupation.  Due to norms for male occupations and expectations for male behavior, Mommy Dearest is conveyed as a polar opposite of the stereotypical manly man overflowing with masculinity.  His femininity and womanlike attributes are largely assumed based on his occupation.  Simply because he has a traditionally feminine occupation, the commentators also assumed that the athleticism associated with masculinity would be absent in Mommy Dearest, and he would be incapable of completing the show's obstacle course.  While it is easy to laugh at a character like Mommy Dearest, his very lifestyle is incredibly important in demonstrating the power which femininity or masculinity associated with one’s occupation can have in conveying what it means to be a woman or a man.  Mommy Dearest is an extreme example but nevertheless exemplifies how one’s occupation holds significant influence on how the rest of society perceives him as a man or a woman.

Works Cited

"Anderson Can't Dance." ABC.go.com. Web. 16 Jul 2010. .

Johnson, Allan G.  “Patriarch, The System: An it, Not a He, a Them, or an Us.”  Reconstructing Gender: A Multicultural Anthology.  Ed. Estelle Disch.  New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2008.  91-98.  Print.

Newman, David. Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, & Sexuality: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages, 2008. 30-70. Print.

Rogers, Mary F. “Hetero Barbie?.” Gender, Race, and Class in Media.  Eds.  Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003.  94-97.  Print.

Wipeout.  American Broadcasting Company.  ABC, New York.  13 July 2010.  Television.


 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Link Hunt for GPC Blogs

Family Guy and Feminism
March 6, 2010
http://primetimetv.suite101.com/article.cfm/family-guy-and-feminism
Robert Loughney
Suite101.com

Racism in Twilight?
May 16, 2009
http://randombabble.com/2009/05/16/racism-in-twilight/
Ouyang Dan
randombabble.com

In Defense of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue
February 11, 2010
http://cornellsun.com/section/sports/content/2010/02/11/defense-sports-illustrated-swimsuit-issue
Alex Kuczynski-Brown
Cornellsun.com

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and Don’t Even Pretend to Be Fair–Part III: Lie, Discredit, and Deceive
February 15, 2010
http://www.newsrealblog.com/2010/02/15/don’t-ask-don’t-tell-and-don’t-even-pretend-to-be-fair-part-iii-lie-and-discredit/
John R. Guardiano
Newsrealblog.com

Busting Down the Glass Ceiling: Female Characters in Video Games
March 11, 2010
http://roslynayers.wordpress.com/2010/03/11/busting-down-the-glass-ceiling-female-characters-in-video-games/
roslynayers
roslynayers.wordpress.com