Tags: culture, gender, marketing/brands, media, nationalism, organizations/occupations/work, race/ethnicity, religion, american dream, commercial, farming, hegemony, ideology, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: This commercial, which aired during the 2013 Superbowl, is a montage of pictures of farmers, their families, and their lifestyle. Throughout the whole ad there is a Paul Harvey speech, known as his “So God Made a Farmer” speech, that was delivered at a 1978 farmer’s convention. The ad connects the speech with the montage of the people in a way that shows how farming is part of American culture, very hard work, and is of great moral and religious value. The ad promotes the new Dodge Ram truck, although the truck only appears a limited number of times. It illustrates the hegemonic ideology of the American Dream in a gendered and racialized manner. In short, the American Dream is the belief that obtaining success and upward social mobility for your family comes through hard work. In the ad, the farmer is working hard because it is their duty to be a hard working American. As a political conservative, Harvey was a big believer in the American Dream and promoted rugged individualism throughout his radio shows, and reflect the meanings that Dodge is attributing to its brand of trucks. This ideology is hegemonic because people take this cultural attitude, and its uniquely American expression, for granted, thereby reinforcing societal power relations. It ilso illustrates gender ideology, which can be referred to as the attitude regarding the roles, rights, and responsibilities of men and women in society. In the traditional sense, the men work blue-collar jobs while the women take care of the household and children. The ad both reflects and reinforces this traditional gender ideology, with 6 females shown in the ad compared to 21 men. None of the women were shown doing the “dirty work” while many of the men showed were actually involved in acting on their farm duties. The second to last picture in the montage is of a young child staring off into the farm with a cowboy hat while Harvey narrates, “When his son says that he wants to spend his life doing what dad does, so God made a farmer,” which reinforces the notion of farming as a masculine activity. Finally, the vast majority of farmers in the clip are white. There is a single image of an African American male farmer, and a Hispanic woman and her son, but for the most part, the video links the notions of good, hard working moral people with white male farmers, and of course, people who drive Dodge trucks.
Submitted By: Omar Mendez
Tags: gender, intersectionality, australia, commercial, misogyny, objectification, sexism, stereotypes, street harassment, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: This interesting Snickers ad starts by showing a group of male construction workers and asks, "What happens when builders aren't themselves?" The rest of the ad is men yelling various things at women who pass by on the street below. But instead of sexist catcalls, the hardhats yell, "I'd like to show you the respect you deserve!" and, "A woman's place is where she chooses!" and "Want to know a filthy word? Gender bias!" Best of all: "You know what I'd like to see? A society in which the objectification of women makes way for gender-neutral interaction, free from assumptions and expectations." They chant their final words in unison: "What do we want? Equality! What don't we want? Misogyny!" At the end, the Snickers tagline appears: "You're not you when you're hungry," thus implying that men are not naturally themselves when they're hungry and that they are naturally sexist. In other words, these men say anti-sexist things because they're not hungry, and that oddly, Snickers can both cure their hunger and return them to the natural order of things. So it simultaneously draws upon gender (and class) stereotypes and suggests they are natural, while it critiques them by exposing the everyday workings of misogynistic behavior. It can also illustrate an intersectional perspective. By using construction workers, it stereotypes working class men in particular for these sexist comments as being natural. In the American context, the fact that the (Australian) workers are all white is interesting because of the focus on street harassment by black and Latino men. For additional videos on street harassment, see this undercover video of a woman getting harassed in New York City (which is also critiqued in the previous link) and this problematic video on decentering and recentering the conversation on street harassment.
Submitted By: Anonymous
Tags: abortion/reproduction, biology, bodies, culture, emotion/desire, gender, sex/sexuality, biological determinism, infidelity, sociobiology, 06 to 10 mins
Summary: This segment from the Today Show explores whether humans are “wired”—or, biologically predisposed—to cheat on their mates. The clip can be used to teach biological determinist perspectives of gender, and specifically those rooted in sociobiology. In short, biological determinism argues that the social world is predetermined by biological factors. Sociobiology stems from this tradition of thought, but focuses more specifically on genetic reproduction and evolutionary processes. Often relying on observations of animal behaviors to make claims about human behaviors, sociobiology argues that a fundamental human drive is to ensure genetic reproduction, and many human activities can be reduced to this drive. Using the case of infidelity, this video clip is helpful for shedding light on sociobiological explanations of gender difference. The segment opens with a sociobiological perspective, using Barash and Lipton's (2001) book The Myth of Monogamy as a point of reference. Here, the authors argue that monogamy is not natural; from an evolutionary standpoint, humans have a stake in having multiple sexual partners. Sexual promiscuity is prevalent throughout the animal kingdom, they argue, and humans are not exempt from the same biological urges that drive other animals to be promiscuous. After the opening segment (minute mark 2:17), host Meredith Vieira speaks with Jeffrey Kluger, TIME magazine’s science editor, and psychologist David Buss; the conversation quickly turns to a discussion of gender difference. Kluger represents a fairly classical sociobiological argument when he states: “Nature wants one thing, and what it wants are babies. It also wants lots of them. And it wants variety, because the greater the genetic variety, the greater the likelihood that the babies are going to survive into adulthood and do well.” Kruger goes on to assert that men will look for women who are young and fertile, and women look for men who are good providers, such as those who are rich and powerful. Buss introduces more socio-cultural elements into the discussion, such as strong social norms against cheating, and argues that both men and women feel attraction to others outside of their relationships. He also points to psychological pathologies, namely narcissism, as an explanation for infidelity, and draws attention to infidelity in a cross-cultural context where polygamy is common (that is, cultures where men are legally entitled to have multiple wives). Although Buss mostly draws upon socio-cultural explanations, he also suggests that biological impulses to be non-monogamous are a part of our “human nature.” Asked why men cheat more, Kruger draws upon biological and sociological arguments, arguing that: (1) biologically, men have the ability to breed more, and could conceivably breed offspring everyday; from this he argues that men are “tripwired" for infidelity; and (2) in a patriarchal society such as ours, men are more likely to be in positions of power and feeling entitled to be unfaithful. After screening the video, viewers can be encouraged to identify messages in the clip that cohere with, and deviate from, the sociobiological perspective. Viewers can also be encouraged to explore feminist and/or sociological critiques of biological determinism, such as those outlined in Carmen Schifellite’s (1987) essay, "Beyond Tarzan and Jane Genes: Towards a Critique of Biological Determinism.”
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp
Tags: gender, marriage/family, media, organizations/occupations/work, fatherhood, housework, labor force participation, motherhood, parenting, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In this new ad dubbed "World's Toughest Job," Cardstore pleads its case for why people need to celebrate their mothers. The video appears to be a series of excerpts from online job interviews aiming to fill a Director of Operations position. The job would have unlimited hours and no breaks. Ideally, applicants should have degrees in medicine, finance, and the culinary arts, and be willing to eat lunch only after the associate has eaten. And the position will pay absolutely nothing. At the end, the interviewer divulges that in fact billions of people already hold the position. They are called mothers. If online commentary is any gauge, the video has succeeded in tapping into many viewers' sepia toned memories of their own mothers, which makes it an excellent springboard for launching into a discussion about whether Cardstore's appraisal of mothers is simply based on nostalgia or empirical research. Drawing from the American Time Use data, the reality is that mothers spent about 18 hours each week doing unpaid housework, compared to fathers, who only devoted about 10 hours. On average, mothers devote about 14 hours each week to child care, whereas fathers only devote seven hours. Sociologist Suzanne Bianchi found that despite a steady increase in mothers' labor force participation since the 1960s, they are spending approximately the same amount of time with their children. To accomplish this feat, working mothers have had to adjust their work hours, they have had to do less housework, devote less time to leisure, and rather tragically, they have had to sacrifice sleep. If not the world's toughest job, it would be hard to argue that the job of mothering is not at least one of the toughest. Still it is important to note that while the celebration of mothers in these viral ads may be heartwarming for some, the ads also work to shore up rather narrow and limiting expectations of how women with children should act, which is a topic The Sociological Cinema has explored elsewhere (here and here).
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
Tags: crime/law/deviance, gender, inequality, knowledge, lgbtq, media, prejudice/discrimination, sex/sexuality, social construction, agender, androgyne, bigender, gender fluid, genderqueer, neutrois, non-binary, trans*, transgender, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In this clip from Fox & Friends Heather Nauert reports that Illinois State University recently relabeled its "family” restrooms as "gender-neutral." She kicks off the segment by saying,"Someone call the P.C. police!" and warns that viewers are "not going to believe this one.” The giddy laughter of her off-camera colleagues is audible while she delivers her exasperated explanation of the new restroom symbols. The video is useful in any class wrestling with the social construction of gender, the gender binary, and consequences of rigidly enforced gender categories. People who identify as transgender, two spirit, demiguy, demigirl, bigender, non-binary, trigender, third gender, genderqueer, gender fluid, androgyne, neutrois, and agender (and others) have often reported instances of ridicule and danger faced when using public restrooms. For this group, the labeling change means the difference between being able to safely use public restrooms at their university. What is interesting is not the change toward more inclusive signage at Illinois State University, but how Fox & Friends uses their platform as a major news network to actively police the gender binary. Nauert begins by framing the change as an instance of political correctness, a term that suggests the new signs are of trivial importance. The demeanor of both newscaster and her off-camera colleagues is another cue that viewers should not regard the change as an important or positive development at Illinois State University. Although times are changing, news programs still give lip service to the idea that their job is simply to give the public impartial (i.e., fair and balanced) information about important events. What is discussed less is the role the media plays in shaping the public's understanding of those events and reconstituting the state of affairs where excluding people who do not conform to the gender binary is acceptable. For more information about bathrooms as a site of gender politics, check out our Pinterest board on the topic.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
Tags: children/youth, gender, marketing/brands, sports, femininity, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In the beginning of this video, teenage girls and boys are asked to perform certain actions "like a girl." For example, they are asked to run like a girl and throw like a girl. Both the girls and boys adopt stereotypical behaviors. Then younger girls are asked to illustrate these actions, but they perform as they normally would (e.g. running as fast as they can). Both the teenagers and younger children are asked to reflect on what it means to do something "like a girl" and if it is a good or bad thing. They offer very insightful comments and come to acknowledge the negative connotations of doing something "like a girl." Finally, they offer alternative and positive meanings for doing something like a girl, arguing that it is a natural thing to be a girl and to do things as a girl. Along the way, captions (from the corporate sponsor, Always) note that a girl's confidence drops during puberty, and that we must make "like a girl" have positive meanings. The clip is an interesting way to engage a common expression, that is often taken for granted, and to show how cultural meanings get assigned to gender in a way that is very harmful. Specifically, it shapes how meanings of sport, athleticism, and physical activity are gendered, and suggest how they lead to certain gender inequalities. The clip can also be explored from an economic sociology perspective in terms of branding and marketing. This sort of advertisement is outside the traditional form of advertising, but is an example of a growing trend in which corporations address social issues in their communications as part of their branding strategy. For another example, see this Dove Evolution commercial and a critical analysis of it. Similarly, viewers might further reflect critically on Always' depiction of gender, femininity, and girls' bodies in this ad. Thanks to Abi Horvat for suggesting this clip!
Submitted By: Paul Dean
Tags: gender, intersectionality, race/ethnicity, social mvmts/social change/resistance, activism, feminism, first wave feminism, fourth wave feminism, Internet, motherhood, second wave feminism, third wave feminism, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In this video, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes it upon himself to discuss the matters of feminism. Gordon-Levitt was first asked on The Ellen Show if he considers himself a feminist, to which he replied, “I absolutely would.” Soon after, journalist Marlow Stern asked Gordon-Levitt what being a feminist meant to him, to which he replied, “it means that your gender does not have to define who you are, that you can be whatever you want to be, whoever you want to be, regardless of your gender.” Gordon-Levitt’s response garnered a lot of public attention, which sparked his interest in the meaning of feminism to different groups of people. Gordon-Levitt explains how his mother, who he describes as a “second wave” feminist activist, initially exposed him to feminism. He contrasts second wave feminism from the 1960s and 70s to the feminist activity that took place during the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the early 20th century, commonly referred to as “first wave” feminism. In this video, Gordon-Levitt spends a good amount of time contemplating the issue of feminism being “for or against” motherhood. Ultimately he argues that women should be able to choose freely to be a stay-at-home mom or a working mother without being judged. Gordon-Levitt ends the video by asking his audience to share their opinions on what “feminism” means to them, and to submit their videos to his online HitRecord project. This video is useful for teaching about periods of feminist activity and for contemplating what feminism means in the current era. While Gordon-Levitt references the wave model that is commonly used to characterize American feminism, viewers can be encouraged to think about the limitations of this model. For example, in her article “Third Wave Black Feminism?,” Kimberly Springer (2002) critiques the feminist wave model, pointing out that it is largely organized around white women’s feminist activity, and lacks recognition of significant eras of feminist activity carried out by women of color. Viewers can also think about whether Gordon-Levitt’s online video project might constitute an example of what some have called “fourth-wave feminism.” In a recent article, Ealasaid Munro (2013) draws attention to the role of the Internet in contemporary feminist activity, showing how the Internet has become an important outlet for the public to easily channel their opinions and confront issues concerning feminism. Viewers can reflect on whether Gordon-Levitt’s video project is an example of this potential fourth-wave feminism idea, given that he voiced his opinions about feminism using online channels, and he invited his viewers to publicly share and debate their thoughts via the Internet.
Submitted By: Kuchee Vue and Valerie Chepp
Tags: gender, inequality, intersectionality, media, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, violence, feminism, patriarchy, sexism, sexual harassment, street harassment, subtitles/CC, 00 to 05 mins
Access: YouTube (See also this supplemental video documenting the testimonies of women who have been street harassed)
Summary: Street harassment has been a hot topic ever since the activist organization Hollaback! posted a slick new video, which records the catcalls aimed at a woman who walks for ten hours in New York City. While many men have described the video as opening their eyes to the harassment women face each day, many more men it seems have chided the video as little more than staged feminist wailing. They claim that in fact most women love compliments both on and off the street, and men have every right to simply say what's on their minds. For starters, the video can be used to recreate this core public debate in the classroom, thereby engaging students and communicating the relevancy of the material for their lives. Once the contours of this debate have been roughly defined, it is useful to bring both legal definitions and empirical evidence into the conversation with the aim of causing students to reevaluate their stance on street harassment and what they think they know about "most women" or "most men." In terms of legal definitions, it can be pointed out that street harassment falls under the CDC's definition of sexual violence, which it defines as any "sexual activity where consent is not obtained or freely given." Crucially, the CDC adds that not all forms of sexual violence "include physical contact between the victim and the perpetrator...for example, sexual harassment, threats, and peeping" (my emphasis; Stop Street Harassment offers a comparable definition). A second point to make is that whether women secretly love to be catcalled is an empirical question, and the evidence suggests they do not. In a recent nationally representative survey of 1,000 women and 1,000 men (age 18 and older), 65% of women reported experiencing at least one type of street harassment in their lifetimes. About 57% of all women had experienced verbal harassment, and 41% of all women had experienced physically aggressive forms, including sexual touching (23%), following (20%), flashing (14%), and being forced to do something sexual (9%). By comparison, only about 25% of men reported being street harassed. The majority of women who experienced harassment were at least somewhat concerned the incident might escalate. While the video is a vivid illustration of street harassment, it is not without fault. Writing for Colorlines, Akiba Solomon notes that although she likes the video as a teaching tool, one rather glaring problem with it is that the vast majority of men bothering the woman are black and Latino. The ad agency responsible for editing admitted that most white men who catcalled the twenty-something woman didn't make the final cut because the audio was less clear, Solomon rightly points out that by posting the video with the white perpetrators erased—whatever the justification—Hollaback! is engaging in "a dangerous lie of omission and implying that black and brown men are particularly predatory." In my view, Solomon's intersectional critique of the film needs to take centerstage in any discussion involving this video, for if we're not careful, the fight to end sexist harassment will come at the expense of establishing new justifications for racist harassment (Check out other posts on street harassment from The Sociological Cinema here, here, and here, and explore the topic on our Pinterest board here).
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
Tags: emotion/desire, gender, feminism, masculinity, patriarchy, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: This short video from the webseries "A Different Angle" can be used to draw attention to the somewhat narrow view that gender equality is only a topic that concerns women. Filmmaker and host Ben Acheson argues that men need to not only recognize the vital role they play in promoting gender equality, but men must also come to explore how gender has crucially structured their own lives and experiences. His argument resembles a similar one made by sociologist Jackson Katz, who explores how the ideas surrounding masculinity lead men to become both perpetrators and victims of violence (here and here). In another video posted on The Sociological Cinema, educator and activist Tony Porter argues that through the course of their socialization men come to occupy a "man box," which puts strict limits on the kinds of behaviors men are able to express. For instance, Porter describes a moment in his own childhood when his father was not able to openly cry following the death of one of his sons. In the featured video of this post, Acheson concludes by arguing that movements for gender equality must also be movements that work to redefine what it means to be a man.
Submitted By: Ben Acheson
Tags: crime/law/deviance, discourse/language, gender, inequality, media, sports, violence, assault, blaming the victim, domestic abuse, intimate partner violence, nfl, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: [Trigger warning for a discussion of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence] An important news story has once again put the spotlight on America's problem with domestic abuse and gender-based violence, and it involves (former) Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assaulting then fiancée, Janay Palmer, in an elevator of an Atlantic City casino. Video footage of the incident confirms the couple got into a heated argument, and then somewhere during the course of the elevator's descent toward the lobby, Rice delivered a blow with enough force to seemingly render Palmer unconscious. A security camera from the lobby captures Rice dragging his fiancée's limp body out of the elevator and onto the lobby floor. Isn't this just an isolated incident of a man losing his temper? Since most men and women agree that physically assaulting another person is wrong, what is left to discuss? Here's something to consider: women are victims of rape and assault at the hands of men far more than the reverse. According to the Department of Justice, about 1 in 4 women have been victimized by an intimate partner, and this asymmetry suggests Americans still have much to discuss in terms of gendered patterns of violence. The same is true for only about 7% of all men. To be sure, there are certainly interpersonal details that led Rice and Palmer to quarrel that day, but it is no less true that Ray Rice assaulted Janay Palmer because Ray Rice lives in a society where it is sometimes permissible, and even expected, for men to enact physical violence against women. Sure, in the abstract, people agree it's wrong, but if one listens to how people actually make sense of instances of assault, it becomes clear that assault against women is only wrong with qualifications. For instance, the above video features commentator Stephen A. Smith on ESPN's "First Take" imploring viewers to "make sure we [sic] don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions.” As a sociologist, I can appreciate the importance of contextualizing social phenomena, but understanding the causal chain of events that lead to a given conflict is something different than excusing violence or saying the violence is understandable (i.e., morally acceptable). Rather than using his media platform to simply denounce Rice's behavior as wrong, Smith appears to ask his audience to consider the ways in which Janay Palmer was asking to be hit. In the spirit of truly contextualizing the abuse, Smith would do well to ask viewers to consider how a discourse of blaming the victim (also discussed here) perpetuates a state of affairs where women are the overwhelming victims of physical abuse (Note that Smith later offered an apology for his comments).
Submitted by: Lester Andrist
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