Gender and Racial Stereotypes in the Media : Barriers to Real Unity

I love television. I adore films and I am a certified couch potato. I am stating all of what I about to say as someone who loves media, but I’m saddened by it’s dire effects that it has on our perceptions, ideas and philosophies.
As I have stated in earlier posts :
1) The media has been a tool by which no one seems to take responsibility for it’s outcome
2) It can create a degree of passivity and a reluctance to take action, a numbing towards violence and a view that the world is a corrupt, evil and negative place.
3) We have made those who are on television, what is viewed as television as something that is an inherent truth without bringing into question the validity of this truth
4) This perpetuates gender and racial stereotypes in the media

We can’t shut ourselves into a room and isolate ourselves or not be aware of pop culture. It’s impossible. We are surrounded by television. But we should question the perception it feeds us. I mentioned previously that the media depicts third world countries as backward, impoverished and behind the times. It rarely shows how most countries in the world have large cities with the similar comforts to first world countries, and first world countries can have large sectors of poverty in their own neighborhood. The reality they create is one that cultivates a fear of the Other… of a divisive rhetoric which can be a vehicle for people to consume more.

Beyond barriers of countries, the media has perpetuated certain stereotypes in race and gender that we may take as an inherent truth. This is slowly changing, and the most succesful shows which allow their characters not to represent a race but instead are human characters with all those unique talents and faults. ( Shows like Lost, Grey’s Anatomy and Community come to mind). I compiled some videos which show we are all victims of these stereotypes. But these depictions have been done over a long period and it still exists today. Here are some examples:

Black people as buffoons, servants, gang members and drug dealers

Latinos : Gang members, violent, maids and janitors who do not go to school and are rebellious

Native Americans : Spiritual Guides who Wear Feathers and who do not know technology or civilization

Women : Overly sexualized and objectified

Men : Masculine, no emotions and violent

All of these create fragmented dichotomies and creates unnecessary barriers between race and gender. It makes us clump together people based on what they look like and does not celebrate our individual traits and abilities.

When you travel enough , you realize that all of this is an illusion. We have much more in common than we think. We all cry, we all love we all have a sense of wanting to have purpose in our lives. I have friends from Canary Islands, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Cambodia, Singapore, Australia, Cameroon, Nicaragua, Mexico , Canada , United States , Chile. They are men, women, black, white , indigenous, hispanic and many other myriad colors. And I could not possibly clump together any of them based on their country or race or gender. They are individual and unique but are also part of the collective ethos of the human race.

Beyond what we perceive of others, it also deeply causes us to question how we see ourselves. In isolating ourselves into these impossible categories, we never become satisfied with our own individual achievements. None of these stereotypes contribute to positive reinforcement of self.
Beyond this, very little of the media is dedicated to the exceptional capability of humanity towards goodness, service and our ability to try and dedicate ourselves to our fellow man. It fosters a culture of competition, where we are all constantly trying to be the best.

Instead of just believing the depiction of what we see on the media, it’s time for us to question it and to pave new and more realistic images of who we are. We need to make conscious efforts to know that what the media depicts is most definitely not what we want the real world to look like.

I still love television. I am watching vampire diaries as we speak. We just need to make sure that we don’t take everything we see in the media as fact and try to have our own established framework of what we believe instead of being spoon fed what to believe.


4 thoughts on “Gender and Racial Stereotypes in the Media : Barriers to Real Unity

    1. You are right , we do it all the time. But media has a huge role to play in why we do it and not our true human nature. If that were the case, in extreme situations- like an earthquake – we cease to label people or are afraid of them and simply pitch in and help… at that oment we are all human beings. Children don’t steretype either, they will just see a child not someone of a particular race or gender, it’s not until they grow much older that they learn – through the media, family educational system- how they are supposed to act

  1. Whatever gets ratings will be on TV, regardless of its quality or message, it’s just a vehicle for advertising. Unfortunately, what’s on TV is just a reflection of our interests. As less money is alloted to public education in the States, shows will become more base and less intellectual. But, that’s kind of a win, because that audience is easier to convince that they need to buy your advertised product.

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