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Gender Representation

Discussing the issue of Gender Representation in a series of different texts.

Amy Groenewegen

on 22 July 2014

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Transcript of Gender Representation

Summary: Belle, the beautiful protagonist, is bored of her small town life and she escapes reality by reading fairy tales. Belle happens to be the only girl in her town who can resist the charms of Gaston, the towns most handsome man and she is the only one who he has eyes for.When her father is kidnapped by a Beast, who lives alone in a palace, she doesn't hesitate to come to the rescue. The beast agrees to swap his hostage for Belle. What Belle doesn't know is that the Beast has a magical spell cast on him and in order to break the spell he needs to fall in love. Needless to say a stereotypical fairy tale ending follows, they fall in love, the Beast turns into a handsome Prince and they live happily ever after.
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast was made in the 1990's and it set out to give girls a role model to follow, a princess who doesn't rely on men to survive and who has a mind of her own. In many ways the movie succeeded, she is intelligent and doesn't play the part of damsel in distress. However there are several ways that this movie falls short of it's goal, for example Belle can read and she is intelligent but there isn't a single time in the film when she uses her brains for good, implying that there is no need for a girl to read if she is beautiful. Belle is the stereotypically "perfect"girl. Gaston is muscly, strong, tall and he has all of the girls in the town head-over-heals in love with him but is he the perfect man? Well he is conceited, self centered, sexist and he needs constant validation. Thankfully Disney portrays him as the bad guy, does the good guy challenge the stereotypes? The Beast starts off as shallow, showing no "soft emotions, he changes as the book progresses, growing and developing as a person. The main issue with his character is that he was turned into a beast for judging a woman by her looks alone, the only way for him to turn back into a handsome prince is for him to fall in love. Sure he falls in love with Belle and vice-versa but she is beautiful, he was never put into a situation where he had to accept someone for who they were. Did this film achieve its goal of being a modern representation?
Gender Representation in Beauty and the Beast
The 50's way to welcome a man home from work
"How to be the perfect wife" is an interesting (?) exert from "fascinating womanhood" published in 1965. It implies many things but the overall theme is subservience, "...take 15 minutes to rest so you will be refreshed when he arrives." "...Don't complain if he is late for dinner." These quotes are all implying that men have a hard day at work and you must be ready for his arrival, push your own feelings back and put his needs above your own, all the time!!! Although this is an outdated article it still shocks me that these opinions were once accepted as valid.
How to survive: Girls only vs Boys only
At a glance there doesn't appear to be much wrong with these books. Alright so the boy is hunting a crocodile and the girl is talking on a phone on a zipline and posing in a miniskirt but the covers are still relatively balanced compared to the rest of the book. The real shock comes when you turn to the table of contents the boys version includes titles such as ; 'How to Survive in a Desert', 'How to survive a shark attack,' and 'How to treat a Broken Leg,' while the girls version includes; 'How to survive a BFF fight,' 'How to survive a fashion disaster,' and 'How to look your best for a party.' This implies that girls only have small issues to deal with while all boys are outdoors having adventures all of the time.
Gender stereotypes
If this is not already blatantly obvious that this children's book displays sexist views how about the fact that an eight year old was able to pick up on it. Constance Cooper's 8 year old Daughter, KC, was in a bookstore when she noticed the books, she was upset by many of the articles especially one in the girls book, 'How to survive a camping trip,' since she enjoys camping and the article implied that camping was only fun for boys for example 'camping may not always be a girl's top choice of activity, but here's how to make the best of a bad situation and survive in style.' Although reading this article disappointed me in the way that we have come so far as a society and yet there is still such a clear distinction between ''boys activities" and "girls activities" it also encouraged me that the fact that an eigfht year old was able to pick up on that and speak out, plus that this has been brought to light hopefully educating many others.
Pregnant by R. Kelly & Robin Thicke
This song has some shocking lyrics that are degenerating towards women. If you are not familiar with the song here is a link pregnant lyrics.
The first line "Girl you make me want to get you pregnant" is already starting to feel like all that women are good for is reproduction. Further on in the song there is yet more explicit sexism "now put that girl in my kitchen" Some artists don't seem to understand that just because you sing the words it doesn't make it any less offensive or sexist. Although the song was made in 2009 it still seems to be the views of the 1950's.
Snickers advertisement
While some may argue that this advertisement empowers women and encourages equal rights I disagree. In this TV advertisement aired in early 2014 builders are shown shouting empowering statements at women passing by, usually unexpected on the woman's part. This may sound like a great idea but at the beginning of the clip there is a title screen that ruins it all "What happens when builders aren't themselves?" and again at the end "You're not you when you're hungry." This means that the whole ad, all of those encouraging statements was just the product of hunger and those builders cannot possibly actually feel that way.
Representation of men and women
I don't understand how this advertisement could possible be promoting snickers what are they saying, "Eat snickers and go back to being sexist," it just doesn't seem to make any logical sense. It also stereotypes males (specifically builders) as not caring at all about woman's rights, in an advertisement that millions of people have seen this is a dangerous thing. People believe what they see on their TV and in the media, what if men started acting the way we assume these builders do when they aren't hungry? We would go backwards, we are more aware about equal rights now days but there is still a barrier. It seems like the views of a traditional text but in fact it was only aired earlier this year!
I'm glad I'm a boy, I'm glad I'm a girl,"
Published in 1970 "I'm glad I'm a boy, I'm glad I'm a girl is a children's picture book that sets clear distinctions between being a girl and being a boy and reinforces gender roles. On each page there are two activities, one that boys do (i.e having trucks, being a doctor, fixing things) and things that girls do (i.e being graceful, having dolls, keeping houses). This is especially saddening since this is in a picture book, being ingrained in young children. How can we expect our society to change if we read these books to our children. Sure this was published in 1970 so it isn't an accurate representation of society now but there are people who still read this to their children. It's out of print but still available on amazon. Luckily these views are generally outcast and seen as old fashioned.
By Amy Groenewegen
hastings, D. (2014). New Aussie Snickers ad with shouting construction workers blasted as sexist by both sexes retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/aussie-snickers-ad-blasted-sexist-sexes-article-1.1737868#ixzz2yMb9SICm

Brasfeild, M.(2013).8-year-old flags 'sexist' children's books; bookstore takes notice. retrieved from http://t.today.com/moms/8-year-old-flags-sexist-childrens-books-bookstore-takes-notice-8C11327618

Antiquated Sexist Childrens Book.(2010). Retrieved from:http://forum.blackhairmedia.com/antiquated-sexist-childrens-book_topic269561.html

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