Gender Stereotypes

Representation Of Gender Stereotypes Essay

(Core Text: She’s The Man, Related Text: Bend It Like Beckham)

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Gender refers to what it means to be male or female in daily life. Gender is different to sex, which is the term used to describe biological differences between males and females. Throughout history, the roles of males and females have changed. A stereotype is an oversimplified and conventional idea or image, used to label or define people or objects. We often have a preconcieved idea of people and think of them in terms of categories, rather than considering their individual differences. Society validates gender roles and stereotypes, encouring and pressuring us to fit into the dominant future. A good example of stereotyping gender roles is to think about how babies are colour coded, girls in pink and boys in blue and also femininity and masculinity, but this is one of many other good examples. The media plays an integral role in influencing the way people perceive gender roles. Magazines such as Cleo, Dolly and Girlfriend are all clearly targeted at a female audience, whereas magazines such as Men’s Health and Wheels appeal primarily to males. Some argue that the differences in behaviour between men and women are entirely social conventions. Others believe that our behaviour is defined by biological universal factors to some extent, but that social conventions also have some effect on gendered behaviour. Messages about gender roles and stereotypes can come from many sources. For example, the media, TV, magazines, war, books, marketing, sports, radio, fashion, commercial advertising, internet, fairytales and toys. In the two spectacular films, She’s The Man by Andy Fickman and Gurinder Chadha’s film Bend It Like Beckham, the directors challenge these female stereotypes by the contradictory actions and behaviour of the female protagonists in each film with these films. This helps question the audience’s assumptions about the equality of each gender and how society depicts them.

Society has become ignorant and selfish of what individuals want to aspire in their lives, they have taken away the freedom and the desire to dream of what could once be, only for them to be able to dream of hwat they expected to become. The film She’s The Man (2006), directed by Andy Fickman, is an
American romantic comedy film inspired by William Shakespeare’s play ‘Twelfth Night’. The main character in the film is Viola (Amanda Bynes) who has a twin brother Sebastian. This film explores the expectations through society’s attitudes towards sport. There are many messages about gender throughout this film. An example is, when Viola decides to transform herself into her brother with the help of a male hairdresser friend in order to be given the opportunity to try out for the boys soccer team. The idea comes to Viola after her mother laments the fact that she is not interested in participating in the traditional Debuntante ball wearing a pretty frilly gown; ‘‘Sometimes I think you might as well just be your brother’’. The fact that the girls soccer team was cancelled without notice conveys society’s low priority for supporting women in sport. In She’s The Man, due to a mistaken identity, Viola’s brother Sebastian has to play in her soccer team’s grand final and he is accused of playing like a ‘girl’ or a ‘sissy’ by his robust and vigorous coach. Viola then decides to reveal she has been dressing up as a boy in order gain to be given the opportunity to play soccer and surprisingly her coach gives her the chance to play in the game saying ‘Here at Illyria, we don’t discriminate based on gender”. Viola then proceeds to win the game for her team against her sexist ex-boyfriend, despite the ironic fact that she is a girl – clearly she doesn’t ‘play like a girl’ or a ‘sissy’ she just plays great football regardless of her gender. This forces audiences to question their assumptions about gender and sport and let go of sexist beliefs about the capabilities of men and women in sport. Another example is the scene at the Debuntante ball and parodies traditions feminine attributes through Viola’s exaggerated contrasting actions; ‘’Remember, chew like you have a secret’’. This challenges the audience assumptions about appropriate gendered behaviour for women. Another good example is when Duke and ‘Sebastian’ are in the room practicing how to get Duke to talk to a girl and a spider comes along and ‘Sebastian’ yells out ‘’You’re the guy, get it!’’ to Duke. This shows how automatically girls are the ones who makes the boys do that kind of stuff because spiders are too icky to girls. Even though, Duke doesn’t know ‘Sebastian’ is a girl, he realises that theres is something wrong with him.

Everyone and anyone should be able to behave and act in the manner in which
they feel comfortable, no one’s opinion other than their own individuals should matter to them. The film Bend It Like Beckham (2002), directed by Gurinder Chadha, is a British comedy drama. The main characters Jesminder (Parminder Nagra) and Jules (Keira Knightley) both challenge gender stereotypes. This film reflects the idea that females are expected to conform stereotypes. This film also looks at the gender stereotypes inflicted on us by our culture as well as society. The transformation of Jesmender into a ‘princess’ in the club scene conforms to the cliché Cinderella fairytale. Yet the film also challenges gender stereotypes by the alternative ending to the usual fairytale ending of the prince rescuing and marrying the prince. Instead, Jesmender leaves Joe behind and accepts a football scholarship in America. “I didn’t ask to be good at football, Gura Nanak must have blessed me” – Jesminder’s passion for football is achieved by her ridiculous natural talent for the game of football which is the main motive for her to play, despite having to rebel against guidelines and restriction she must face due to social, family and cultural issues. The extract where Jesminder is playing football with the boys, it indicates how she can out skill them in their own field, presenting them that she is just as equivalent as them though she is a woman and doing somewhat deliberated more manly. The camera work helps compliment the gender depiction in the scene by moving in an upbeat and fast motion, not in a slow and relaxing pace, because males are lively and boisterous in comparison to women. Our parents don’t always know what is best for us or who we are as much as they think they do. Parental expectations are often based on outdated messages and beliefs they were taught as acceptable gendered behaviour from their generation. Jules mum assumes Jules is gay because she plays soccer and has short hair and wears tracksuits. These assumptions are based on generalisations made in our society. Irony and humour are used in the exaggerated character of Mrs Paxton to highlight how our gender prejudices are often based on appearances and assumptions. Jule’s mum is seen to be stereotypically ‘feminine’ in her ridiculously exaggerated clothing and behaviour in contrast to her sporty daughter Jules. Audiences see her reinforce a negative and homophobic response towards the idea of her daughter being gay. Jules’ mum is trying to encourage Jules to be more feminine when she is kicking goals with her dad, when they are shopping for
bras and when she assumes that Jess is a traditional Indian girl who knows how to cook.

In conclusion, I believe that males and females are being influenced by cultures, social lives and family. Through music, films and novels, we understand how stereotyping of gender occurs through society and throughout this module. Throughout this subject, I have learnt that everybody should be treated equally, no matter what gender they are, what they wear and whatever they’re interests may be.

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