The Media THe Social Construction Of Gendered

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The Media: THe Social Construction Of Gendered Parental Roles Essay, Research Paper The Media: The Social Construction of Gendered Parental Roles There is a type of discrimination that occurs every day in our modern society. It goes largely unnoticed and unacknowledged, but hurts millions with its silent sting. It is the discrimination against fathers and is perpetrated by the long tendrils of the media. Every father, no matter how adequate, inadequate or superb, is affected by this constant defamation. This discrimination consists of the constant degrading of the parenting role of the father and is, as well as has been a detriment to the fostering of positive relations between a father and his child or children increasingly over the past years. This treatment is unfair,

unfounded and harmful. Unfortunately, it is also prevalent in our society. The media, as the largest shaper of social constructions, is most effective through two of its most popular subdivisions, the entertainment media and the advertising media. Both parts have a long-standing record of discrimination against fathers and show no sign of recognizing the implications of their actions, let alone stopping them. The reason why this is such a tragedy is that the images that the media portrays are so often taken as fact, that these beliefs have sunken into our societal consciousness and become “truths” in the mind of the average American when they truly are not. With few images to hint at the contrary in our lives, how can we defend ourselves from falling victim to the unfounded

dominant belief? The truth is that we cannot, but at least we can attempt to recognize the roots of our beliefs and at least begin to question the “givens”. The discrimination against fathers is an issue of culture and not of nature. Through the television and movies, all we see, in regards to fathers, is the media’s portrayal of their fabled inability to effectively parent. It is rarely directly said that fathers are not as well equipped to parent as mothers, but it is greatly implied. Every night it gains way into our living rooms through the evening news and our favorite sitcoms. Through television shows such as Home Improvement and Coach, we learn to see men, and more specifically fathers, as insensitive and preoccupied with “manly” things, and overall not as able

to parent as mothers. We see the television characters that have come to symbolize the “average” man in our society, a symbolization that they truly do not deserve. On their funny shows, they are seen doing all they can to get out of family activities to go watch football games. We laugh at their foolishness when they cannot figure out how to put a diaper on a baby and blow up the baby’s bottle in the microwave. We swallow these story lines and laugh at them and say, “oh, that’s so true”. By seeing these daily images in such a humorous and entertaining manner, we do not view them as harmful, but it is this comfort level which makes us blind to their detrimental effects. These messages are also conveyed through the almost weekly “TV movie” which all too frequently

airs on the major networks. These sappy movies, more often than not, are about a “mother’s story”. The specific movie topics range from stories of the hardships that a mother must go through to get her child back from an evil father to how difficult it is living as a single mother. These kind of stories surely happen in our society, but I have never once seen a story about the love a father has for his children in fighting against a psychotic mother. This type of show just wouldn’t be successful, as people like to play to their current stereotypes and rarely to the truth. A survey that I conducted yielded revealing results as to the media’s affect on people’s formulation of perspective. Twenty percent of the respondents said that the media’s image of the “deadbeat