The images presented in the mass media affect gender socialization. From an early age, we learn to behave in certain ways based on our gender. When we watch television commercials, we usually see women in the commercials that involve home cleaning products, and taking care of the needs of children. For example, I recently viewed a television advertisement for an educational learning center for children having difficulty in school. The commercial showed the mother talking to the representative, arranging the tutoring, and the happy ending with her smiling because the child improved in school after receiving the tutoring.
When it comes to children’s education, in most cases the media portrays this as the woman’s responsibility. Are fathers not concerned about their children’s education? By the same token, mothers who work outside the home are often criticized for neglecting their children. The perception is that they won’t have enough time or energy to focus on the children’s needs. However, fathers are never criticized for working outside the home, and they seem to pay the least amount of attention to their children. This image is even reinforced in television shows. For example, on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, Raymond has only one responsibility in his role as the husband and father, and that is to go to work outside the home. His wife, who is a homemaker, has to do everything else in their lives that need to be done. This includes cooking, cleaning, laundry, childrearing, planning family activities and grocery shopping. She has to ask her husband to please read his own children a bedtime story, or watch them while she runs an errand. She is usually exhausted at the end of each day, but he has time to watch television and play golf.
The mass media is sending gender stereotypes to both girls and boys, which could make their lives difficult later in life. For example, what happens to a marriage when the husband expects his wife to do all the housework, but she happens to be a doctor, lawyer or businesswoman with a career that is more prestigious than his? They will probably end up in divorce court.
The mass media needs eliminate gender-based stereotypes so that children understand that their gender does not determine what they are able to accomplish in life. They have the right and the power to choose the roles they play in life.