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Gender in the Media: Gallery

Gender in the Media

The magazine becomes popular...

While magazines have been around since the early 1700s, the circulation of magazines among the middle class became popular in the mid-1800s. During the earliest years, Victorian culture demanded that women be pious, pure, submissive, and domesticated (something historian Barbara Welter has coined “The Cult of Womanhood”).  At the turn of the 20th century, one popular icon in print was the Gibson Girl portrayed by the illustrator Charles Dana Gibson.  Consider how Gibson portrayed what he felt was the ideal American girl and the men who would want her. 

During this same period in history, many women were fighting for the right to vote.  Take a look at how popular print media portrayed the suffragette and the man who supported her.

Modern media is born...

The 1920s and 1930s mirrored our own era in many ways. Popular author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, highlighted both continuing and emerging stereotypes about gender.

"I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling, and asked the nurse right away if it was a boy or a girl. She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. 'All right,' I said, 'I'm glad it's a girl. And I hope she'll be a fool—that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.'" - The Great Gatsby

“Girls like you are responsible for all the tiresome colorless marriages; all those ghastly inefficiencies that pass as feminine qualities. What a blow it must be when a man with imagination marries the beautiful bundle of clothes that he's been building ideals around, and finds that she's just a weak, whining, cowardly mass of affectations!” - Flappers and Philosophers

The medium of film also entered the popular arena in the 1920s.  In 1927, Clara Bow epitomized the notion of the "It" girl who was beautiful, fashionable and sexy (without being overly sexual).

Clips from the silent movie, "It," starring Bow, along with popular music of the time, can be found here. You can watch the full movie here.

In times of war...

By World War 2, print and film inundated the American landscape.  Posters and full color magazine pictures buoyed American patriotism and spread important wartime messages, related conservation, personal health, and national security.  What other messages were reinforced by such popular and prolific images?

Consider the iconic image of Rosie the Riveter. How does the imagery and stereotyping change to appeal to different audiences?

Audience: Eligible Women Audience: General Public Audience: ???

Now take a look at a training film, Guide for Hiring Women, aimed at the men who will work with Rosie.

At the movies

 Blondie on a Budget (1940 Comedy)

 On the Town (1944 Musical, singing Prehistoric Man)

 Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

 Film Noir and the Femme Fatale

The golden age of advertising...

While advertising and our consumer society certainly got it's start during the 1920s, the 1950s and 1960s are considered the "golden age" of advertising.  Full-color advertisements heavily populated the many popular magazine available for subscription.  Radio and television offered a reliable means of reaching out to the American consumer, selling both products and the "American ideal."


Advertisements on Television

 Put on Fresh Deodorant
 Coffee Makes a Happy Hubby 
 Use Fab Laundry Detergent
 Have a Pepsi
 Camay Makes You Beautiful
 Try Cheer Laundry Detergent

Time for television...


What shall we watch?

 Ozzie on Women
 Helpless Female

 Opening Credits
 A Woman's Place

 Opening Credits

 Opening Credits

 Opening Credits

 Opening Credits
 Full Episode

Can't skip the commericals!
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 78   

Most women did not start working outside of the home until the mid 1970s. Advertisers understood this and both programming and advertisements changed to fit the daytime target audience.  Check out the "soap operas" designed just for those responsible for keeping the world clean.

  Love is a Many Splendored Thing
  As the World Turns

Take a look at these clips aimed at the women.

  Easy Does It Ladies
  A Word to the Wives (1955) 

Graphic reading...

Of course, comic and screen superheroes have appeared in American media since the 1930s. What messages do these snapshots from popular comics sent?


And when those superheros hit the television screen...check out this episode of Batman:  

 Nora Clavicle And The Ladie s Crime Club.

Comic books have a special appeal for young people and in the 50s and 60s the Archie series was aimed specifically at the American teenager.

Examine the comic books for gender stereo types:  the joker, the jock, the big shot, the witch, and the girl next door. Begin by examining the covers for immediate audience appeal.


Consider the storylines.


Even when stories don't focus on gender roles, individual cells reinforce stereotypes.


In the 1950s and 1960s people reading comics were targeted with advertising, often located on the inside back cover, Consider the messages inherent in these ads.

Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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