Gender Roles: Opinions by Erin Hollar
January 7, 2020
I strongly believe that our ideals of femininity and masculinity are learned instead of natural. From a very young and impressionable age, we are taught what it means to be a man or woman by the people and propaganda that we are surrounded by. From little things like asking for male volunteers in elementary school, to more substantial things like having women do the dishes after Thanksgiving meals, almost everything we experience in our lives influences the way we perceive the male and female gender.
All advertisements, both feminine and masculine, are targeted towards a male audience, while only feminine commercials are aimed towards a female audience. Women see companies display unrealistic body expectations daily. In return, this impractical standard of beauty is ingrained into the consumer’s brain, motivating them to chase something they can never attain. This allows for major corporations to keep coming out with products that they know will always sell well. This concept is also definite for the male gender. Not only do a large majority of women feel the need to objectify themselves, but men play an even greater role in undermining the female gender.
Happiness is portrayed in a very simple way: you buy the product and you will be happy. Companies take advantage of the insecurities that individuals have in order to sell a product. By relating the consumer’s emotions to what they see on the screen, one might think “They are like me. If they enjoy the product, then maybe I will too.” Corporations may even create new insecurities by the items they sell and how they advertise it. For example, in the year 2016, a new makeup product came out with the goal to “color correct” or cover the tones within your skin. This was never majorly seen as a concern until it was heavily advertised. The name implies that there is something wrong that needs to be “corrected.” After a countless amount of people were unnecessarily using this product, they started to embrace the undertones of facial skin with the rise of new, women-lead makeup brands.
Many, if not all advertisements that contain sexualization, are directed towards a male audience. Men have grown up to see women as a low-level commodity: something to obtain. Just like a majority of women want the “perfect body”, men desire a woman with that same body type. It appeals to the male fantasy, making sales climb (hence the saying “sex sells”).
In my opinion, I believe that feminine and masculine characteristics are social constructs created for the satisfaction of structurized living. Those who are high up in power want a system that they can control. By defining what it means to be of a certain gender, they can manipulate the way people think, thus changing their actions. Despite common belief, individuals want to be told what to do. By giving them rules to follow, they know what they should and should not be doing. It gives themselves a sense of clarity instead of running around like headless chickens.
Society has been slowly progressing out of old gender norms, but just like any major epidemic, it will take time. For a long while, men have universally been considered strong and emotionless providers, with women being the weak and undermined caregivers. This exposes men to toxic masculinity, causing them to be more closed off and insecure about having emotions in general. Women are not perceived to be of the same value as men, which is proven through the drastically low number of females that are appointed to higher-paying occupations.
The media often sabotages the ability for women to be taken seriously. While society emphasizes on the actions of male influencers, they focus mainly on the physical aspects of female influencers. Females have worked hard to make considerable strides in the history of our country, yet they are still seen as something to look at rather than to listen to.