How Gender Communication Impacts Me

In the following few pages of blogdom, you’ll find a variety of different artifacts that anyone could encounter during their day-to-day lives that have been analyzed in relation to gender communications. The artifact topics include new music videos by Beyoncé, women’s rights in the Middle East, and television character analyses from our favorite television shows (or mine, anyway). The major enveloping theme that I chose for this project focuses on society’s gender stereotypes and how some shows and instances break them, while others encourage them. Some do both.
Significant portions of my gender artifacts are about the stereotypes that surround women. As a woman, it’s certainly easier for me to recognize these stereotypes over other stereotypes because I’ve either seen or experienced the limitations or maybe even instances of sexism. This also has shaped my own personal interpretation of gender roles. Some major examples of these artifacts include my brief analysis of Clinton and Palin in the news media throughout the 2008 Presidential election as well as the artifacts about women’s rights in the Middle East (which also links to our recent class readings regarding global feminism). I’ve also included analyses of musical artists like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, as well as interpretations of advertisements (like for Michael Kor’s advertisements). I’ve also included information about one of my favorite television shows, Gossip Girl, and about the best movie ever Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
On the reverse side, I’ve also included analyses about men, the most notably being the one about How I Met Your Mother’s Barney Stinson. This artifact highlights the ways he enhances gender stereotypes about men when he also breaks his own stereotypes in order to help out his best friend. I’ve also analyzed the Ashton Kutcher commercials for Nikon Cameras and the relationships I have with several of my gay friends—relationship-types that aren’t really covered in the book. Overall, it seems as if it’s becoming more acceptable for men to be emotional and a little more feminine that would have previously—however, like DeFransisco said in her text, there’s still this overlying sense of homophobia (that we need to kick in the butt).
In addition to these two main gender focuses on men and women (whoda thunk?), I also have some random artifacts from different sources—my favorite being the ones I picked up from my Art History II class. I thought that these pieces were clever and out-of-the-box. These are some of my favorites of them all. I chose to take things I’d learned in this class about female artists who were interested in women’s rights before they were even on a political agenda (Gentileschi) and I chose to represent the significance of women in other cultures in order to show that not everybody necessarily holds men as more important than women.
Overall, I consciously chose a set of artifacts that anyone could encounter on a day-to-day basis. Most of all, I chose topics that I see everyday (or often). Ultimately, gender expectations reach me, too (even if I am an awesome Communications student). I chose these artifacts so they’ve influenced me in some way, which helps my gender interpretations differ from other people’s gender interpretations. After all, we each have our own gender role expectations (the most common considered stereotypes) and they help create unique persons.

DeFrancisco, V., Palczewski, C. (2007). Communicating gender diversity: a critical approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

“Even articles about women who are in the news because of their professional achievements or other news making activities are more apt to contain information about their apperance, marital status, families or personal lives, than are similar stories that focus on men (Gamble, 2003)(p.365).”

During the past Presidential elections, we had two serious candidates of different positions who were female. They were Hilary Clinton (D) and Sarah Palin (R). Throughout the media coverage, these women were portrayed differently than any of their male counterparts–for example, they were often refered to in the newspapers and news articles by their first names, whereas their male counterparts were always refered to by their last names. The media also didn’t focus on the women’s view on the issues, they focused on things they did that made them distinctly feminine–like their wardrobe or their emotional responses.

These media double standards are also discussed in our book. The fact that both of these women were predominantly featured in the election defies the studies cited in the text that state they’re represented in 11% of the print media) (Gamble, 2003). For example, it was a big deal when the information came out about how much the Republican Party spent on Sarah Palin’s wardrobe and hair, whereas Clinton was criticized for showing too much cleavage. God forbid they show any of their feminine features. Clinton was also criticized because of her short haircut–which is interesting because typically, women tend to adopt more masculine looks the higher up they climb into male-dominated careers. Either way, she was bound to be criticized for something because society has taught us to critically analyze women’s looks (Gamble, 2003).

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

“In addition to actively encouraging certain behaviors in their children, parents also communicate their gender expectations (Gamble, 2003)(p.202).”

I was watching a re-run of the popular 90s hit television show Friends the other day. It happened to be a significant episode involving Chandler’s dad, who is gay. When Chandler was nine, his father announced, at Thanksgiving, his intentions of divorcing Chandler’s mom because he was gay. Since that moment in Chandler’s life (and among others), Chandler has been increasingly sensitive in regards to his father’s homosexuality. His father, Charles, moved to Las Vegas and started an all-male show called ‘Viva las Gaygas’, hence the title of the show. Charles Bing’s drag name was Helena Handbasket.

Chandler has always felt uncomfortable with his father’s identity as a homosexual, not necessairly because he disagrees with being gay, but more so because of his young impressions of it. It’s easy to make impressions on young children that can last them a lifetime. Chandler was also embarrassed by his father when he was young due to society’s homophobic attitudes, as well (DeFransisco, 2007). He would become nervous and embarrassed if his father came around him and his friends. As a result, during his adulthood, Chandler is sensitive to homophobic accusations and combats them with humorous jokes as a defense mechanism, which can also connect back to his childhood memories and the embarrassment he feels when it comes to his father. By the time Chandler’s tells him that he’s gay, Chandler’s perception of a family has dramatically been altered–interupting the family impressions of gender communication that are so important to developmental health (Gamble, 2003).

Crane, D., & Kauffman, M. (Writers), & Bright, K., & Halvorson, G. (2001). The One with Chandler’s Dad. Bright, K. (Producer). Friends. Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers.

DeFrancisco, V., Palczewski, C. (2007). Communicating gender diversity: a critical approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

“A vast number of commercial messages use images and representations of men and women as central, strategic components to capture attention and persuade (Gamble, 2003)(p.352).”

Ashton Kutcher recently became a celebrity spokesman for Nikon cameras. Since then, the commercials have featured Kutcher with a bunch of beautiful women, using the camera as a flirting tool, essentially. In this particular ad, Kutcher is hanging out at the “chateau” with a bunch of women who are playing with his camera while “he doesn’t know”, when he really does know. They steal his camera and past it around, everyone taking “Facebook” style pictures with the Nikon Coolpix.

What I like about these commercials, though, it that they are aimed for both men and women–even though they may re-enforce some traditional gender-role expectations. Women want the camera because it’s cute like Ashton Kutcher and men want the camera to get all the girls, like Ashton Kutcher. In this commercial, he is featured as perhaps a young bachelor who’s payroll isn’t hurting him (with the chateau and all) who is also very smooth and an overall nice guy. You just want him to be your best friend. This enforces the gender stereotype that men should be successful. The women featured are mostly young, beautiful women (enhancing the stereotype that women should be those things) but an older woman is also featured in the commercials, too. This also breaks traditional stereotypes because the commercials include someone who wouldn’t normally try to portray their product as trendy by featuring an older woman. Yes, the commercials show the women as possibly being dependent on the wealthy young guy, but they more so show young women hanging out with a cute guy. I don’t really feel as if there’s an alternative motive with those girls–the commercial kind of makes it feel as if anyone could be them, stealing the camera, because we’ve all done those “Facebook” shots at some point.

Nikon. (2008). Ashton Kutcher featuring Bounce With Me. Television commercial.

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

“Thus whereas female-female friendships are promoted through face-to-face interaction, male-male friendships are developed through engaging in activities together or side-to-side interaction (Gamble, 2003)(p.1520.”

This year, I met a new friend named Brandon. Brandon is the stereotypical “gay guy”: he’s good looking, he knows a lot about hair and fashion, and his voice is a bit more feminine than would be considered “normal”. The thing I love most about Brandon is that he’s absolutely, flamboyantly loud and obnoxious. He says things that are completely deemed inappropriate, especially by CNU standards (according to him). I won’t even repeat some of the things he says because they’re so vulgar.

However, the moment I decided that he was amazing, was when we sat down at Brickhouse with everyone else and just talked about stuff. Suuuuurrree, we made fun of some people, but it was all good fun and it was essentially a “bonding” experience. Since he’s gay and I’m a girl, I thought a few things were interesting when I thought about the friendship chapter in our book. Our friendship has similarities between male/male friendships and female/female friendships, but not really cross-sex friendships (there’s a quick chart on p. 157). There were both times when we would communicate in a side-to-side manner (essentially by making guy-hunting a sport) and in a face-to face manner just by talking(Gamble, 2003). We also talked about some personal things, but not others–encompassing the breadth and depth portion of female/female interaction (Gamble, 2003). So really, they should do a study that also encompasses the differences in friendships that differ by sexual orientation–though not all gay men are flamboyant, not all of them necessarily behave the same way as heterosexual man would (there are always exceptions).

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

“Men, on the other hand, tend to envision love as taking their partner to romantic places, having sex, or doing something that surprises and pleases a partner (Gamble, 2003)(p.175).”

Speaking of “sluts”, I recently watched one of the reunion episodes of Rock of Love Bus with Bret Michaels. It really made me hate “reality” love shows like that even more. Each girl was completely stereotyped and they looked like porn stars–in fact, I’m pretty sure they said one of them was a porn star. I guess the entire season of the show sent a bunch of women on a tour bus with rock star Bret Michaels from the band Poison. Michaels wanted to find love. One of the girls admitted to Michaels that she had taken a vow of purity to not have sex for three years–she evidently was voted off the show by Michaels. During the episode I saw, she confessed that she had been looking to break the vow with Michaels, and not to keeping it… but he voted her off the show when he thought he couldn’t hit-it? Is that shallow? Or is that just the way men are “programed”, if that’s how men tend to show love? But what about the other two options: taking her to a romantic place or doing something that surprises her (Gamble, 2003).

This show completely objectifies women, sticking with the stereotypes, and ultimately encourages women to objectify themselves in order to get the guy (Gamble, 2003). Deep down, I really hope that some producer had this show in mind in order to show that this is the way women should NOT behave in order to be desirable. Michaels has chosen a new girl each season, and it hasn’t quite worked out. I wonder why. But maybe that’s just the life of a rockstar? But then you watch the clips from when Michaels is talking with the show’s “runner-up” Mindy, she’s seems so sincere, just like Michaels said. Then compare it with the “winner”, and it makes you question who would have been the better girl for Michaels.

Reunion. (2009). Rock of Love Bus with Bret Michaels. [Reality television series]. VH1.

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

“Men are presented as desirable not because of their personal qualities, but because of their bodies (Gamble, 2003)(p.354).”

While finding a YouTube video for another post, I ran across this video that was taken on out very own campus in Santoro Hall. It’s an absolutely interesting insight of what goes on behind the closed doors of an adolescent teenage boy. In the video, this college freshman (Santoro is a freshmen residence hall) stands in front of his mirror and goes on and on about how “jacked” he is getting. He’s absolutely thrilled that his work outs are paying off. He even goes as far as to lift his shirt to view his stomach area and tries to get his roommate to put the camera down–but trusts him when the roommate says he “won’t”.

This shows the other side of how media and gender communication can effect people. Here, the boy is obviously proud of his tough, “jacked” body because he’s been influenced by the media and through various other sources. He’s absorbed the idea that men should be masculine, tough, and muscular (according to some new stereotypes about looks regarding men) (Gamble, 2003). It’s funny, but at the same time, it’s interesting to see a candid shot of someone behind closed doors. You could almost say that “Mr. Jacked” has a personal relationship with his roommate in the sense that he feel comfortable behaving this way without feeling insecure.

College roommate CNU. (2008). posted by sweepersnake. YouTube.com. See link above.

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.