Media and Gender

Module code: MS3000

Module co-ordinator: Dr Kaitlynn Mendes

Module Outline

Media and Gender promises to be a lively and engaging module which explores contemporary and historic representations of gender – or the construction of masculinity and femininity – in the media. Throughout the module, you will learn about:

  • How what it means to be a man or a woman – to be masculine or feminine – is constantly changing. What it takes to be considered a proper man or a woman today is not the same as it was 50 years ago, and will change again in another 50 years.
  • How gender has been one of the key means through which inequalities between the sexes have been maintained. E.g. notions that men are ‘naturally’ aggressive or rational and women are ‘naturally’ passive and irrational have helped keep women out of the workforce or in certain roles.
  • How the media play a key role in the construction of gender, and police those roles through praising certain types of masculinities and femininities, and de-legitimising others.
  • How feminists – or those who campaign for equal rights for women – have long recognised the media’s importance in maintaining gender roles, and have sought to identify and intervene in ‘harmful’ or ‘misguided’ media representations. This includes highlighting women’s absence in the media, identifying how men and women are limited to certain roles, or critiquing the ways in which the abilities of both genders are undermined or devalued.

Throughout the module, we will examine gender in non-fiction realms such as journalism, magazines and blogs, but also fictional content such as novels, television and film. We will also examine other cultural industries such as music, pornography and gaming.

This module is approached from a feminist perspective, asking what impact have feminists had on media content? And what more needs to be done to eliminate sexist and degrading content for men and women? What spaces, such as music, have been used to subvert traditional gender roles, and what impact has this had? How do we explain the rise of ‘lad culture’ and what it means to be an ideal man or woman in today’s society? This module is important because it highlights the ways the media have acted as an ideological battleground in the construction of gender, and consequently influences what it means to be a man or woman today.

For more on feminism, see:

For more on patriarchy, media sexism, and misogyny, see:

For more on what activists have to say about gender in the media, see:

Topics covered

  • Representation of men and women, masculinity and femininity in popular culture and how this has changed.
  • The rise of lad culture, as evidenced through the rise and fall of lad magazines, and a ‘porn culture’.
  • The impact feminism has had on gendered representations in the media.
  • Ways traditional representations of men and women have been challenged, particularly through new media and the internet.
  • The gendered nature of journalism.
  • Gender in the music industry.
  • How men and women ‘use’ the media.
  • Online trolling.
  • Feminist campaigns against rape culture in the media (#Yesallwomen; SlutWalk).
  • Gender in an online world.

Learning

  • A two-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar each week

Assessment

  • Essay, 3,000 words
  • Seminar presentation, 10-15 minutes
  • Piece of reflective writing, 750 words