Gender, Class, and Race Stereotypes in American Television
Gender, class, and race stereotypes abound in contemporary society, much like they have done throughout human history. With the advent of television, however, stereotypical assumptions have become so pervasive, and so diffused, that some call for a serious and purposeful scrutiny of television's contents. On the following pages, various content analyses of television programs will be addressed, followed by discussions on the greater implications race, class, and gender stereotypes have on society.
During prime time hours, men make up the vast majority of characters shown. Furthermore, women characters found during that same time frame are mainly in comedies, while men predominate in dramas. Thus, the implications are that men are to be taken serious, while women should not. (Tuchman 1978). Similarly, content analyses on soap operas reveal highly stereotypical representations of the genders. In soap operas, strong, willful women are predominantly depicted as villainous, while the more benevolent women are suspect of vulnerability and naivety (Benokraitis 1986).
Furthermore, another sharp gender-stereotypical contrast on television content can be seen in advertisements. In fact, 75% of all television ads using women are for kitchen or bathroom related products (Tuchman 1978) On average, women tend to be portrayed in roles in which they are underestimated, condemned or narrowly defined, resulting in one researcher termed the symbolic annihilation of women by the media (Tuchman 1978). Conversely, men are usually depicted in high-status roles in which they dominate women (Lemon 1978). These stereotypical images of men and women found in the media, not only foster gender-stereotypes, but also those of class and race as well. Studies done on the relative dominance characters portray revealed that both men and women of professional occupational status are more likely to be found in dramas. Working-class...