Gender Media and Culture Essay

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Gender Media Culture

What is hegemony and how are the effects visible in your everyday life?

Hegemony refers to social and political power, and entails the domination of political, economic, and social institutions. The domination can be covert, as in the ways male discourse dominates politics and the media. or, the domination can be overt, as when one group passes laws that directly infringe on the rights of others. Not all forms of hegemony are acknowledged or articulated, which is why hegemony can be particularly sinister and difficult to eliminate.

One of the ways hegemony is visible in everyday life is that subordinate groups define themselves in relation to the dominant group. For example, it is presumed that masculinity and heterosexuality are normative, which is why we say things like "gay marriage" and "lady doctor." Before gender-neutral language was used, the term "he" and "man" were used to describe all people, as if women did not exist. This is one of many examples of male hegemony.

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Cultural hegemony refers particularly to the ways elements of European and North American culture come to dominate other cultures. Stemming from the colonial attitudes towards non-European peoples, cultural hegemony has meant that McDonalds and Coca-Cola are available everywhere in the world, making it more difficult for local brands to succeed. As a result, subordinate cultures are being gradually washed away. This is evident in the way languages are dying out, too. English is becoming a hegemonic language.

TOPIC: Essay on Gender Media and Culture Assignment

Hegemony is evident with regards to race, too. Racial hegemony is evident in the way whiteness is considered normative and everyone who is not white is a "person of color." White hegemony has led to the biased interpretations of history published in school textbooks, just as male hegemony has led to the telling of history from the perspective only of men. The concept of "white privilege" suggests that people who are white enjoy unspoken privileges that are most often taken for granted: such as the privilege of walking into a boardroom and not being stared at; the privilege of getting served or seated first; or the privilege of being assumed to be intelligent or assumed to be powerful.

The effects of hegemony are visible in every day life, in social, cultural, and political spheres. Men dominate in nearly every level of actual power, such as in boardrooms or in positions of political power. Hegemony of social class also manifests as the vicious cycle of the wealthy making important political decisions that affect the poor, and the poor being too economically, socially, and politically disenfranchised to do anything about it.

Hegemony refers to the elements of the dominant culture that become most visible as well as normative. Therefore, heterosexuality is hegemonic. Because heterosexuality is hegemonic, it is perceived to be normative and all other sexual orientations and gender identities are perceived to be deviant. This leads to real and tangible results in the lives of people, such as the inability of same-sex partners to have visiting rights in hospitals or inheritance rights. Although its power has diminished somewhat, Christianity continues to be a hegemonic religion. Religious Christians have influenced public policy to a degree that is out of proportion to their actual numbers, highlighting the fact that power is not necessarily in the hands of a majority of people but in the hands of the people with access to social and cultural capital. Social and cultural capital can then be wielded to achieve a desired result, and that desired result is generally the perpetuation of the hegemon.

2. What do you feel are the top 3 issues facing women and how they are portrayed in film and on television?

If film and television offered accurate pictures of the top three issues facing women, those top three issues would likely be, "What should I wear? How do I look? And what does my husband/boyfriend need?" Unfortunately, film and television do a poor job of portraying the real issues that are facing women. The three most important real issues that face women include the achievement of political parity, the achievement of economic parity, and the achievement of social parity.

The achievement of political parity is a top issue facing women. Universal suffrage was passed less than a century ago. It has not actually been that long before women were not considered full citizens. Women have certainly come a long way in the past hundred years, but still have a long way to go in the United States alone. There is a disproportionate number of men, white men in particular, in positions of political power. This is as true on television and film as it is in real life. Television and film could portray more women in positions of power, but instead choose to reflect rather than change reality. Most films and television depict female characters in traditional gendered roles as wives, mothers, and helpers, as opposed to leaders, movers, and shakers. When women are portrayed as movers and shakers, they are depicted in a negative light. For example, the film the Devil Wears Prada features a female editor-in-chief of a major magazine. The position entails one of great wealth and power, but the woman is portrayed in a negative light. This sends the message that women in positions of power sacrifice their ability to be good human beings, a very dangerous message to send young women seeking role models.

The achievement of economic parity is another top issue facing women, because more women than men are in poverty. Women have traditionally been dependent on men, which is why they have allowed themselves to be involved in relationships that entail domestic servitude. Women's domestic labor is not recognized as labor in the sense that it goes unpaid. As a result, women who lose their male partners due to death or divorce are often stranded without their own money or source of income. Being thrust into an unforgiving job market means many women work in low-paying jobs that do not offer opportunities for advancement at all, let alone even reaching the glass ceiling. Those who do reach the glass ceiling are dismayed to find that they cannot attain the highest positions in the company; or when they do, that their salaries are still a fraction of that of their male counterparts. There is still no real guarantee for equal pay for equal work, something that is not portrayed much in film and television. In film and television, women are depicted as housewives, secretaries, schoolteachers, and nurses: professions that are typically gendered and typically undervalued too.

The third most pressing issue that is facing women is the achievement of social parity. This manifests in many ways, such as the ability for a mother to choose whether or not she is the primary caregiver. Television and film more often than not depict the female partner as the primary caregiver of the child, and depict mothers who work as being unavailable or distant. Fathers who become the primary caregivers are portrayed as anomalies or as goofy guys who do not know how to change diapers. Other forms of social parity include the ability for women and men to socialize together rather than in strictly gendered ways, like the women in Sex and the City.

3. Commonly in the media (television, movies, etc.) race and sexuality are portrayed with various stereotypes attached. Looking specifically at race and sexuality, discuss these stereotypes (the good, the bad, and the ugly). In what ways are they detrimental? In what ways could they be considered good, if at all?

Stereotypes can be complimentary or insulting; either way, they are generalizations that can be detrimental to social justice and meaningful social change. Racial stereotypes include those of the angry black man, the angry black woman, and the nerdy Asian guy. Related to sexuality, racial stereotypes include the promiscuous Latina who becomes the single mom; the promiscuous black woman who becomes the single mom; the detached Asian vixen; the sexually aggressive black male; the smooth and seductive Latin man; and the asexual Asian man. All of these stereotypes are detrimental in some way, as they make it seem like all members of these groups act a certain way. Stereotypes ignore the diversity within each racial group, and offer poor role models for viewers.

White characters are depicted with such frequency vs. characters of other races that there are few stereotypes of whites except for those related perhaps to hair color. For example, redhead women are portrayed as being feistier and more sexual in general than brunettes or blondes. Blonde white females are generally portrayed as being the most attractive to all men, regardless of their race. White males do not even need to be attractive; they just need to be rich in order to go to bed with a woman. Although white men and white women are stereotyped for gender, white sexuality is depicted in a variety of ways.

Homosexuality and bisexuality are portrayed in variable ways in the media. Some shows… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Gender Media and Culture" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Gender Media and Culture.  (2013, March 11).  Retrieved September 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Gender Media and Culture."  11 March 2013.  Web.  26 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Gender Media and Culture."  March 11, 2013.  Accessed September 26, 2021.