Toying Around with Gender Essay

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At an early age, children are confronted with ideas of gender identity and societal expectations simply based on whether they are a boy or girl. In their daily lives, they constantly face subliminal messages that are sent through commercial advertising, TV broadcasting, and in other areas of the media. “Over the past three decades, children’s estimated exposure to television advertising has doubled from an average of about 20,000 commercials per year in the 1970s to more than 40,000 commercials per year in the early 1990s” (Adler, Kunkel, and Gantz). In general, society has taken great strides towards gender equality in areas of work, political rights, etc. However, competitive companies tend to resort to selling traditional ideals in their advertisements. Despite efforts to limit gender stereotypes, large corporations contribute to the perpetuation of these stereotypes in the minds of children in order to make a profit. The definition of gender stereotypes is the oversimplification and generalization of behavior that is associated with a certain gender. There are four basic forms of gender stereotypes: personality traits, domestic behavior, occupational positions, and finally physical appearance. In all four these areas, girls and boys are portrayed on completely opposite sides of the spectrum of behavior in commercials marketed towards children. “This $17 billion industry is working day and night to bypass parents and target children with messages that undermine parental values” (Linn). After World War II had ended, women who had temporarily replaced men in the labor force were urged to return to their homes so that the returning soldiers could resume work in the United States. This movement to containerize women within their household and childrearing duties was often reflected in the types of toys that were advertised to children during the post-World War II
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