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Circuit of Cultural Analysis - Portrayals and Effects of Gender Roles in Today’s Culture

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Essay title: Circuit of Cultural Analysis - Portrayals and Effects of Gender Roles in Today’s Culture

Circuit of Cultural Analysis:

Portrayals and Effects of Gender Roles in Today’s Culture

Representations of gender are portrayed as essential norms in today’s culture, creating standardized myths and sexism within society through the media. The normative portrayals of gender in society consist of stereotypical roles and images that are created through media devices such as, film, television, popular fiction, music and advertisements. Judith Butler draws on the idea of gender performativity and explains how each person, regardless of their sex acts out their gender role, due to the norms created by the hegemonic ideas (CS 203 course pack). During every moment of everyday we express our gender and perform our given roles expected by the media. We act out our genders every time we go out into the public, without even knowing it, we dress up in our costumes (women in dresses/skirts, men in suit and tie) and we put on our faces or our “drag” (women apply makeup and men shave their facial hair). We perform our roles repeatedly, without questioning, through our everyday actions and also through our interactions with others. If we don’t conform to our designated gender roles or go against the norms by acting abnormal or differently then the majority we are rejected by society. Essentialism causes us to believe that we are fixed in natural differences when the real truth is that difference is created by our culture which implements the process of gender role signification. As a society we must be aware of the effects our culture is having on us in order to gain back control and individuality. A possibility comes with the rise of alternative forms of portrayals of gender in media culture. Currently, stereotypes and gender inequality are being reduced and new forms of culture are being created in an equal dimension. With the destruction of normative, stereotypical roles, and with the rise of alternative positions, gender should become more positively represented so that society is influenced in a new, realistic and equal way, to better suit our ever-changing, advancing, modern culture. Thus, by analyzing gender roles within the circuit of culture involving aspects of representation, regulation, production, consumption and identity we can begin to create more diverse minds and complex thinkers.

The productivity behind a cultural analysis on gender differences brings forth awareness to the power struggles between men and women in society and the misrepresentation of gender in the media. To draw attention to the fact that ideologies in discourses control the way we shape our identities is to allow us to see the negative connotations the media is embedding into our minds and the influence it is having on our lifestyles reinforcing difference. Society is better off being informed about how culture shapes the roles we play out in our everyday activities. This way, at least we are consciously aware of the decisions we are making or the ways in which we are being influenced by a system of signs so that we can obtain greater freedom and diversity regarding how we wish to live our lives.


Representation is the usage of signs to stand in for something else. As humans, in order to communicate we automatically take part in the human signifying practice where we need to name, categorize or differentiate things and people in order to create order and meaning. Although through the act of naming something, which is the first order of signification, we are already objectifying the thing we are talking about (CS305 lecture). Barthes states that we judge as we name (CS305 lecture). It is in discourses that ideologies based on gender are created, and when we are announced as a girl or a boy at birth it is because of an institutionalized meaning, reproduced by social institutions that withhold cultural authority. Thus, gender is considered naturalized but this is because of myths. Gender, however biological and scientific, is still a myth which we are ascribed at birth. Just because there is difference in genitalia, who’s to say girls have to play with Barbie’s and boys have to play with cars? Gender myths serve to function as a way to naturalize the cultural; to make dominant cultural and historical values, attitudes and beliefs (ideologies) seem completely ‘natural’, ‘normal’, self-evident, timeless, obvious and ‘common-sense’ (CS 305 lecture). Foucault supports the idea that it’s the discursive formations that create what gender means to us socially. It’s a constructed identity, and not natural. It is through signs that gender has meaning in our culture such as when women wear tight pants or when men watch football together. In the media today, women are represented in stereotypical roles, such as sex objects, homemakers, beautiful,

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