Friday, May 29, 2009

Teenage Gender Specific Gifts

I went shopping for my fictitious U.S. citizen, little sister, named Jennifer who is seventeen years old. Jennifer put on her wish list an iPhone and her favorite toy was a lacrosse stick. My budget was $120. I learned from shopping for a seventeen year old female is a real challenge. Gender identity may be represented by products of consumer goods that are gender specific. Due to many external influences, 17 year old girls may try to purchase gender specific consumer goods that they feel helps them to fit the gender expectation of society.

First analyzing the gifts that my little sister wanted gave me some insight as to what kind of girl she is. Lacrosse is a rather expensive sport, which may have hinted at being at least middle class. The desire for an iPhone proved that she is brand conscious. The iPhone while being a highly functional phone, is rather expensive and can be seen as a status symbol for carrying the apple trademark. The two desired gifts strongly suggested that she came from a middle class family. Unfortunately both the iPhone and lacrosse gift was out my budget.

I immediately considered internet shopping, but found it rather difficult to buy toys for a 17 year old girl. I am a 22 year old male, and a little bit of touch with what 17 year old girls like. I searched internet sites looking for toys that are targeted at 17 year old girls. Most of what I found were educational games. I know that when I was at that age I would be rather disappointed if I recieved something educational for a present from a sibling. Being the good older brother that I am I did further research on gifts for 17 year old girls. I contacted my little brother’s girlfriend who is 16. What was interesting was that she too plays lacrosse and has a blackberry which is similar to the iPhone. I asked her what she would want for a birthday gift. She easily rattled off a long list items such as, jewelry, perfume, nail polish, sandals, hand bag, clothing and make up. All the gifts she gave me were highly materialistic. None of the items had any entertainment value. Some of her ideas had functional value, but mainly all the gifts had in common was that they were fashionable. These gifts potentially could depict a person’s class, race and gender. Being the good brother that I am, I wanted to get presents that my fictitious little sister would like and use rather than throw it in the back of her closet.

I determined my fictitious little sister is most likely going to have similar tastes to my brother’s girlfriend. I first thought about what it is that teaches these girls to be so materialistic. That is when my idea for a present hit me. I bought her a subscription of 12 issues to Seventeen magazine for $10. This magazine is targeted for teenage girls. It is quite obvious that this magazine directly teaches teenagers about gender types. This magazine takes gender socialization to the next level. It tells them what fashion is hot, how to do their make up and hair. Seventeen magazine also talks about health, fitness, dating, sex, college and a career. If a girl is interested in reading this magazine they probably have developed a strong gender identity and are attempting to keep up with the expectation set by society for a desirable seventeen year old. These ideals may have been created by media, school, parents and friends. According to Newman, “…the process by which children learn their own gender is not a passive one in which they simply absorb information that bombards them…They are like gender detectives, searching for cues about gender.” (113) Seventeen magazine is a way for Jennifer to actively search for gender cues.

For my next gift I chose to buy her Vera Bradley flip flops for $22. The designer flip flops are very sexy because of the style, color and flowery design. Again illustrating our perception of beauty and femininity. The sandals were relatively inexpensive and not really worth more than $5 at Walmart, but the label and design make them desirable. These clearly were an item that would only be found in a middle class or upper middle class environment. What I found interesting about this website is the fact that there is no tab that refers to women, but there is a tab for men. The website is very upscale and is intended to create very attractive and desirable images. The themes are very feminine and upscale.

From Seventeen magazine I learned about Miley Cyrus. She is portrayed by the magazine as hot and sexy. Miley’s image appears to be the teenage ideal that is created by the media. She is successful, her dress is somewhat sexy and she has a good figure. She also appears to be wholesome and slightly innocent. My little sister Jennifer is likely to be crazy about her. A Miley Cyrus designer T-shirt will be a gift that she will love. The gift cost $25. It is another gift that fits the middle class image. The image is most of the cost. A similar no name T-shirt should cost about $10. Wearing this T-shirt will make her feel a connection to Miley Cyrus and what she stands for.

My final gift is a lacrosse stick for Jennifer. The cost is $59.99. A female lacrosse stick is different from a men’s lacrosse stick. While lacrosse was originally a game played by men; it is now gender neutral. The women’s game is not as violent as the men’s. Messner stated in his article, “Sex-segregated activities such as organized sports as structured by adults, provide the context in which gendered identities and separate “gendered cultures” develop and come to appear natural” (128).

Lacrosse is also a middle class game. It is fairly expensive and requires a team that can also afford to buy the stick, pads and shoes. The dress is not really sexy. The image is one of wholesomeness and health. The sport promotes teamwork and positive values for women. A lacrosse stick is useful and is the only gift that does not conform to the media’s ideal for young women.

These gifts represent the way a heterosexual seventeen year old girl can meet the expectations set by society for a desirable middle class young woman who is feminine and trying to attract male interest. Jennifer will appreciate these gifts. She is a typical middle class girl who is influenced by her environment. She is materialistic and very focused on herself and how she is perceived by those around her.

Work cited

Messner, Michael. "Boyhood, Organized Sports, and the Construction of Masculinities." Journal of Contemporary Ethnography (1990): 120-137.

Newman, David M. Identities and Equalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2007.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sex Sells Beer

The collage demonstrates beer companies’ use of feminine sexuality to advertise their products. In the collage there are three beer companies that use similar marketing strategies of using their version of the “ideal woman” to sell their product. The advertisements use young scantily clad women with large breasts and small waists. The beer market is heavily dominated by male purchasers, therefore, beer company’s market research indicates that the typical male will respond favorably to these ads. Beer companies often times use advertisements that objectify female sexuality to target their audience by creating imagery of lifestyle fantasies to the male beer consumer and to capture audiences attention quickly.

The beer companies use the sexuality of women to sell the product, by targeting the insecurities and fantasies of men. The product being advertised is beer, yet many of the ads in the collage do not even have a beer in the ad or say anything about why one should buy the beer. What these advertisements are doing to the product is giving it a masculine connotation, by drawing upon heterosexual men’s lifestyle fantasies. Therefore, men who are insecure about their masculinity may feel the need to drink the advertiser’s product in order to feel masculine, possibly even sexy, boding confidence to pick up women, like the women in the advertisements. Kilbourne states, “Advertisers are aware of their role and do not hesitate to take advantage of the insecurities and anxieties of young men, usually in the guise of offering solutions… The right perfume or beer resolves doubts about femininity or masculinity.” (Kilbourne 258)

The heterosexual male is drawn to the exposed female body. Beer advertisers use this to their advantage by using pictures of models that expose their bodies in sexual provocative manners.
Jhallt states, “Sexuality provides a resource that can be used to get attention and communicate instantly.” (Jhally 253) The advertisers hope is that they will draw the audience’s attention, and hopefully keep their attention long enough to subliminally pick up the strategically placed logo.

In beer advertisements women’s sexuality has been highly effective for selling beer. In the advertisements in the collage, beer is not sold by stating the positives of drinking their beer, but rather creating a desirable lifestyle image of what drinking their product will get the consumer. Between the desirable image tied to their product. The advertisers hope that men will identify with the good looking men and sexy women in the advertisements. It is the sex appeal of the women that quickly captures the attention of the heterosexual male audience. Several large beer producers have used sex to sell their product and thus our culture has been flooded with these advertisements. This advertising is not new. It has been very successful for many years.

Works Cited

Cory O'Brienon August 14, 2007 in Beer.

Diane Klimaszweski, Elaine Klimaszweski

Jhally, Sut. “Image Based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture.” The World and I. Washington Times Corporation. July 1990. Print

Kilbourne, Jean. “The More You Subtract, The More You Add: Cutting Girls Down to Size”. Can’t Buy Me Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feed. 1999. Print





Friday, May 15, 2009

Portrayal of masculinity and femininity in tv show Scrubs

Scrub’s takes place in Scared Heart hospital, where it follows J.D an intern at the hospital and it shows his perception of the daily routine at Sacred Heart. Sacred Heart follows the standard hegemonic representations of masculinity and femininity. Culture has established this notion that doctors and surgeons are typically male. The sitcom Scrubs follows the hegemonic themes of having pretty much all male doctors and almost all female nurses. Where it strays and moves into counter cultural ideology is in the development of its characters.

J.D. and Carla are two characters that often times bend the gender norms in there actions and in personalities. J.D at times is shown having qualities that would be considered by society as feminine. He is a male that is unsure of himself, needs to feel appreciated and he is driven to feel emotionally accepted. One way he expresses this is that he loves to hug people. Carla on the other hand is a female who breaks the norms by being rather dominating, extremely vocal, and likes to get straight down to business. These two characters break social norms, but can fall under Newmans definition of gender. “Gender on the other hand designates the physicological, social and cultural aspects of masculinity and femininity.” (Newman 53)

In the episode My Big Bird, J.D. demonstrates a quality of emotional neediness that by societal standards can be perceived as feminine. J.D. is horribly distraught over the fact that he treated a patient and he did not receive a thank you from the patient. He is so upset by this he feels the need to go to the patient’s house for an explanation. The culture in American society perceives men as emotionally callous and insensitive. This episode especially shows J.D. as being part of American counter culture.

J.D. demonstrates the typical male quality demonstrated by the show as he is fooled by Carla and Elliot into thinking that they are talking about shoes. The show uses this hegemonic ideal that men are bored by any discussion involving shoes. In defining that all men are bored by show conversations the show is giving the male sex a definition of being bored by shoe conversations. This alters from Newmans view of male and female sex definitions. He defines “Sex is typically used to refer to the biological markers of maleness and femaleness.” (Newman 53) Once J.D. thinks that they are discussing shoes he stops paying any attention to their conversation. The ladies assume that J.D. and Turk will stop listening giving them freedom to talk Elliot’s involvement with a patient’s father right. They stand right in front of J.D. and Turk talking openly knowing that he will not listen. However, once the guys hear something that catches their attention, the ladies immediately say strappy sandals and the guys turns off again. The show clearly makes fun of this male ideal.

In conclusion, this episode of Scrubs shows the hegemonic relationship between men and women. It also effectively shows the changing relationships and how both men and women can have both masculine and feminine characteristics. While the show is extremely entertaining and exaggerates these points, it also makes some valid points about society today. The characters in Scrubs are entertaining because they strike a chord of reality.

Newman, David. M. “Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality.” New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2005.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Five in class blog's

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Author: Taryn Yudaken


Blog title: Walmart Rehearing has major implications

Author: Courtney


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Author: Bclarinet


Blog title: Is hating rap racist



Blog title: Women in science and technology, Part 3

Author: Sophie Lagace


Link to main gender & pop culture blog

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