xviii Introduction oppression of women. As has been widely noted, popular culture both reflects and shapes social reality (Welsh, Fleming, &Dowler, 2011). For instance, as hooks (1996) wrote, “Whether we like it or not, cinema assumes a pedagogical role in the lives of many people” (p. 2). Oliver, Sargent, and Weaver (1998) explained, “The fact that sex plays such a robust and recurrent role in viewers’ responses to media entertainment makes it a variable worthy of further exploration” (p. 47). Mulvey (1975) argued that women in film are constantly being presented for the male gaze, for male spectators. Both male and female viewers look through this male gaze, since the camera is constantly positioned in such a way. In this manner, women “become the images of meaning rather than the maker of meaning” (Mul- vey, 1975). Popular culture often tells girls and women that their self-worth is most related to their looks and fails to provide ample role models of strong, capa- ble women. As many have said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” These stereo- typical depictions start with programming designed for children. On television shows and in movies specifically targeting children, male charac- ters outnumber female characters by a ratio of about 2:1. Gender stereotypes nega- tively affect males as well, with studies showing that they contribute to risk-taking behaviors like alcohol, drug use, and driving at excessive speeds. Stereotypical portrayals that reinforce the notion that emotions are “feminine” result in male inhibition, contributing to mental and physical health outcomes (Ward &Aubrey, n.d.). Studies have shown that four-year-olds who watch more TV are more likely to believe that boys and men are better than girls and women, that adolescents who consume more media hold more supportive attitudes toward sexual harass- ment and dating violence, and that females who watch programming with more gender stereotypes are less likely to express interest in STEM fields (Ward &Aubrey, n.d.). One study that showed viewers a video with gender stereotypes about math and then used a control group to show a video about the same subject but without gender stereotypes. It found that both males and females who viewed the stereotype version had increased stereotypical beliefs about math success (Wille et al., 2018). Boys who watch more TV shows and movies about superhe- roes are more likely to play with stereotypical “male” toys, including weapons (Coyne et al., 2014). Even children’s programming emphasizing that girls should be most concerned with what they look like affected girls’ self-esteem and body image, increased anxiety, diminished confidence, and decreased academic perfor- mance (Ward &Aubrey, n.d.). Heavy viewing of media that features traditional gender stereotypes is associated with men’s and women’s views on what activities and occupations are appropriate for each, what motherhood should be like, who does household chores, and the holding of traditional gender views in general (Ward &Aubrey, n.d.). The effect of gender stereotypes in media seems to be even worse for youth of color, who tend to consume media at higher rates than do white youth. Some forms of popular culture, especially rap and hip-hop videos, often featuring sexualized images of women and misogynistic messages, are targeted at these groups (Ward &Aubrey, n.d.). Programming marketing for children under seven years of age typically fea- tures gender stereotypes, such as gendered hairstyles, enlarged eyelashes, and pink and purple clothing for female characters. Male characters are depicted in
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