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Stereotyping. Gender and its Ethics. Anisia Boroznova & Ardra Balachandran. What is Stereotyping?.

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    1. Stereotyping Gender and its Ethics Anisia Boroznova & Ardra Balachandran

    2. What is Stereotyping? • Bootzin, Bower and Crocker (1991) defined stereotypes as complex mental representations of different types of people, containing all the information that we know or believe to be generally true of them. They argued that a stereotype may be either an accurate or an inaccurate generalization about what members of a category are like. • The term derives from Greek. στερεός (stereos) = solid, firm τύπος (tupos) = blow, impression, engraved mark • Hence means solid impression.

    3. Advantages & Disadvantages • Possible prejudicial effects of stereotypes are: * Justification of ill-founded prejudices or ignorance * Unwillingness to rethink one's attitudes and behavior towards stereotyped group * Preventing some people of stereotyped groups from entering or succeeding in activities or fields • Stereotypes are necessary and inescapable: * It enables us to simplify, predict, and organize our world

    4. Media Stereotypes • Stereotypes act like codes that give audiences a quick, common understanding of a person or group of people—usually relating to their class, ethnicity or race, gender, sexual orientation, social role or occupation.

    5. The reverse of the medal… STEREOTYPES CAN • reduce a wide range of differences in people to simplistic categorizations • transform assumptions about particular groups of people into "realities" • be used to justify the position of those in power • perpetuate social prejudice and inequality

    6. The language we use in our media.. • Language is a dynamic and socially-informed tool. To be truly equal, women and men must be seen and heard to be equal. • The media can be proactive in changing perceptions about people in a society by using new terms regularly, or explaining why a term has become negative and not acceptable to a group of people. • After the 1995 Beijing Conference, UNESCO published its Guidelines on Gender-neutral Language.

    7. Gender Stereotype • Gender is the social, cultural and psychologicalcharacteristics of being either male or female.  • Societies have always had ways of differentiating between both men and women, between masculinity and femininity through the assertion of different attitudes and behaviour patterns onto each gender. • Due to the patriarchal nature of most societies, women are sidelined at the receiving end and are made vulnerable to manipulation and subjugation.

    8. Stereotyping in Advertising • Gillian Dyer comments that advertisements ‘define what is style and what is good taste, not as possibilities or suggestions, but as unquestionably desirable goals. • Hence stereotyping in the advertising realm proves extremely dangerous; often contributing to wrong ideologies getting validated affecting the social order radically.

    9. Why do advertisers stereotype? • Stereotypes are easier than getting to know every man and women in the world personally. Advertisers are especially prone to using them to sell products for the same reason. • They assume that all women or men are similar to make targeting audiences a simpler process and cost-effective. 

    10. CEDAW clause • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the world’s most comprehensive legal instrument to outline women’s rights. • By 2001, 168 countries, 2/3rd of the members of the UN, were party to CEDAW. • India ratified it in 1993. • Article 5 enjoins the State parties to take appropriate measures “to modify…. practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.”

    11. Regulations specific to Advertising • The Code of Commercial Advertising on Doordarshan has a clause that prohibits ads that emphasize ‘passive, submissive qualities’ in women. Also indecent, repulsive, offensive treatment shall be avoided in all advertisements. (No specific mention about treatment that involves women or representation of women) • The Code of Advertising Practice (1985) amended in Febraury 1995, and more recently in June 1999 as The Code for self-regulation in Advertising by the Advertising Standards Council of India. (Also does not have any women-specific clause to be protected from stereotyping and manipulation)

    12. Instances of Gender Stereotypes An analysis of advertisements by Goffman (1976) found numerous instances of subtle stereotyping including: 1. functional ranking — the tendency to depict men in executive roles and as more functional when collaborating with women. (Example – Virgin mobile) 2. ritualization of subordination — an overabundance of images of women lying on floors and beds or as objects of men's mock assaults. (Example – ZatakDeo) 3. the feminine touch — the tendency to show women cradling and caressing the surface of objects with their fingers. (Example – Prestige) 4. family — fathers depicted as physically distant from their families or as relating primarily to sons, and mothers depicted as relating primarily to daughters. (Example – Airtel)

    13. Stereotype of Roles • Men are generally more likely than women to be shown in working roles, whereas a large majority of female characters was depicted in nonworking roles. • The type of working role and non-working role has been found to differ between sexes* • Five types of working roles High-level business, entertainer or professional sportsperson, mid-level business, white-collar worker and blue-collar worker. • Non-working roles Family, recreational and decorative roles. *Research by Courtney and Lockeretz (1971)

    14. Examples of Role Stereotypes • Many advertisements show mothers serving meals to their families (but very few show fathers doing this). These advertisements seem to suggest that mothers do all the housework and cooking, and really enjoy this. • Men engaged in physically active pastimes such as sport, rock-climbing or canoeing (but few show women doing these things) • Teenage girls grooming themselves such as putting on make-up, brushing their hair and generally worrying about their appearance (but few show teenage boys doing these things) • Young boys playing with action toys such as trucks and super-hero figures (but girls are not shown doing this).

    15. Stereotype of Desirability • For women, "desirable" physical characteristics (as they are portrayed in the media) include being thin, long-legged, slim-hipped, and large-breasted. • For men, "desirable" physical characteristics include being muscular and possessing a full head of hair. • Some characteristics are portrayed as desirable in both sexes, such as being tall, fit, athletic, young, and light-skinned. 

    16. Stereotype of Commodification • Ads often turn women into ‘commodities that please men’ and project women's images as male-defined as against ‘individuals of inherent worth.’ Example – Lux • Women are ‘wooable.’ Example - BrylCreem • The association of beauty with these commodities (women) is so strong that society tends to look at an ugly woman almost with abhorrence. While male ugliness can be overcome, female ugliness becomes the ultimate shortcoming. Example – Fair and Lovely

    17. Stereotype of Children • Majority advertisements featuring children had little boys in varying shapes, sizes and moods. • They are dirty, naughty, rowdy, intelligent and made to appear as more desirable to parents. Example – Life Buoy cleaning campaign • When you do see two children in ads, its usually a boy and girl or two boys and rarely is a family with two girls spotted. Example – Surf Excel (DaagAchaeHai!) • A few ads that did feature young girls, projected them with their mothers in ads for beauty products. Most reinforced stereotypical images of being chatterboxes, or sweet delicate ‘things’. Example – Mediker

    18. Stereotype of Food Habits • The number of ads for food in men’s magazines is very few whereas a wide range of food products appear in women’s magazines. Already the notion that women are more involved in food purchasing and preparation is introduced. • The ads that do appear in men’s magazines are Cuppo Noodles, Chocolate bars and other ready -to-eat stuff and convey men’s supposed inability to cook proper meals. In cooking anything beyond these simple products, women should ‘help their men out.’ *Research by Helen Macdonald in 2007

    19. Some pertinent questions.. • Do advertisers turn women into commodities that please men, or do they portray them as human beings conscious of their own worth? • Are women shown preponderantly serving others or as pursuing profitable careers? • Are they shown as objects of men's fancy, relying on their largesse, or as persons of value, capable of managing their own lives? • Are they shown silly, stupid and mindless, or are they portrayed intelligent, strong and assertive, capable of successfully undertaking responsibilities and contributing to productivity in society? • Are women shown fanatical about cleanliness around the house?

    20. And the Big Ethical Question... • Is it Right?

    21. Convenience of not having Ethics • Businesses can make profits their sole aim • Can save the time required to explore new paths • Little thought to spare for social responsibility

    22. Solutions? • Social Change Advertisers, ad creators and social order in general need to become gender sensitive. Advertising work need not necessarily translate into a radical anti-thesis. Of course, non-sexist advertising alone is not guaranteed to remove the detrimental effects of hundreds of years of oppression and subjugation that have been women’s lot. But sexist advertising works subliminally, justifying the status quo. While agencies can’t change society purely through representation in advertising, they should look for opportunities to highlight instances where society has changed or is changing. Examples – Ads for TVS Scooty / ICICI Prudential Life Insurance

    23. Solutions? • Alternate Programming Conscious and deliberate effort to brainstorm and come up with fresh ideas rather than choose the easy way out. Defying gender stereotypes in execution of your campaign, even as you are guided by women’s ways of buying to develop it, is a challenge – but worth undertaking. Example - Vodafone • Ammendment of Code of Ethics Government policies to promote fair and equitable portrayals in all mass media.

    24. Make A Choice! • Growing number of ads that features body as a traitor by highlighting problems such as dandruff and body odour. Isn’t there a moral duty for media persons to foster ethical promotion of products? Can’t psychological misalignment be done without? • The woman is now out of the home, but she still lives within her skin. Anxieties have shifted from performing within the home to appearing outside.

    25. Make A Choice! The booming of an entire personal care product and cosmetic industry is heavily dependent on the surmise that a woman has to be beautiful to be accepted, and hence the proliferation and immense success of beauty parlours. Is business profit the only concern? Does not a generation of women with low self-esteem and confidence bother you? Is society losing the perspective that celebrates physical uniqueness and other aspects of a person’s identity a trivial issue? • Ours is a caste-conscious, tradition-bound, superstitious, feudal and intensely patriarchal society.

    26. Abdu’l Baha’s quote… • The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly. Until womankind reaches the same degree as man, until she enjoys the same arena of activity, extraordinary attainment for humanity will not be realized; humanity cannot wing its way to the heights of real attainment. *Abdu’l Baha is the son of Baha’u’llah who founded the Bahai faith.

    27. Thank You! • Suggested Readings Privileging the Privileged – SharadaJotimuttuSchaffter Gender Stereotyping in Advertising - Gouri Shah (