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Gender Roles in Popular Film

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Caitlin Briody

on 20 March 2017

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Transcript of Gender Roles in Popular Film

Common Plot Devices
“Ugly Duckling” or “Cinderella” gaze as the man sees the woman who has transformed from unattractive to attractive

Valued Character Traits
For men
Physical Strength

Superhero/Hero- uses violence to achieve goals
Gender Roles in Popular Film
what is representation?
Okay, so what?
MAle vs female objectification
Target Demographic- Young Men


Objectification- feminizing

Male sexualization is generally
related to the plot

When a male body is on display
it is often in the context of
action, danger, and power

Women’s bodies are shown in a passive, unaware context, often the subject of a male gaze

Similarly, sexualized female characters bring action to a halt so everyone can look at them
"Bechdel Test"
Used to measure gender inequality in movies


Strong Silent Type

Thug (disproportionately men of color)
Man-Child vs. Woman Child
Perpetual adolescence

Male Action Hero vs. Female Action Hero

Do these portrayals remain gendered?

Focusing on one part of the body rather than the whole person

Overrepresented relative to population:

Women ages 20-30
Men ages 30-40

Underrepresented: Everyone else
Viewers in one study compared older female characters to older male characters, and rated them as:

-less friendly
-less intelligent
-less good
-possessing less wealth
-being less attractive

Beauty= Goodness?

Importance of appearance in judgments about women

Historically, female characters in media have been thinner and younger than male characters

"Such portrayals may imply that women's primary value lies in the possession of physical beauty, while men's does not.”
And the award goes to.....
Study: Age of Academy Award Nominees and Winners, 1927-1990

Over the Age of 39:
27% of female winners
67% of male winners

Average age difference of male and female winners across decades: 10 years

For supporting roles: Female winners average 7 years younger than men

Character Agency
Purposiveness- having goals, achieving those goals, occupational power, and leadership status
A Double Standard?
What do these norms say about the expectations placed on men?
Sexually available

What does this tell us about the populations that our society values/deems desirable?
Bazzini, Doris G., William D. Mcintosh, Stephen M. Smith, Sabrina Cook, and Caleigh Harris. 1997. “The Aging Woman in Popular Film: Underrepresented, Unattractive, Unfriendly, and Unintelligent.” Sex Roles 36(7-8):531–43.

Guo, Jeff. 2016. “Researchers Have Found a Major Problem with ‘The Little Mermaid’ and Other Disney Movies.” Washington Post. Retrieved January 31, 2016 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/25/researchers-have-discovered-a-major-problem-with-the-little-mermaid-and-other-disney-movies/?postshare=4171453904092870).

Lauzen, Martha M. and David M. Dozier. 2005. “Maintaining The Double Standard: Portrayals of Age and Gender in Popular Films.” Sex Roles 52(7-8):437–46.

Anon. n.d. “The Diversity Gap In the Academy Awards in Infographic Form.” Indiewire. Retrieved January 31, 2016 (http://www.indiewire.com/article/the-diversity-gap-in-the-academy-awards-in-infographic-form).

Nittle, Nadra Kareem. n.d. “Five Common Black Stereotypes In TV and Film.” About.com News & Issues. Retrieved January 31, 2016 (http://racerelations.about.com/od/hollywood/a/five-common-black-stereotypes-in-tv-and-film.htm).

Tierney Sneed. n.d. “Study: 2014 Saw Less Katniss, More Captain America.” US News. Retrieved January 31, 2016 (http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2015/02/10/presence-of-female-film-protagonists-declined-in-2014-study-says).

Step Brothers Vs. Sisters
Luke Skywalker vs. Rey
1. Representation
How many women exist in film?
2. Sexualization
When they are in film, how are they portrayed?
3. Age and Gender
How does age affect representation/portrayal in film?
4. What About Men?
How do gender norms affect men in film?
5. Conclusion
Let's Discuss

Age and Gender in the Movies
US Racial Makeup, 2014 (US Census)

White alone, not Hispanic or Latino 62.1%
Black or African American 13.2%
Asian 5.4%
Hispanic or Latino 17.4%

Severe lack of representation for women in film

Prevalence of sexualization and ageism directed at women

Male characters subjected to gendered stereotypes

Double standards for male and female behavior

When women are in film, how are they portrayed?
"If they see it, they can be it"
What is being said about female characters?
explore the ways women and men are treated in Popular American Films
Full transcript