Popular Culture: Patriarchy and Sexism

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When thinking about patriarchy and sexism, one may think of examples of the mainstream family. Just as any typical family would do, the woman would change her last name when married, and the children would take their father’s last name. Furthermore, the woman would stay home to raise the children while the male figure of the house would work everyday in order to financially support his family. This lifestyle is not as abnormal as you might think, with consideration to the way popular culture has shaped us. Unfortunately, popular culture has instilled these gender roles into our minds starting at a young age, making these sorts of responsibilities an obligation to the woman and man of the house. With this being said, advertising, music, television, and social media have all shaped our views because of how they portray men and women as well as patriarchy and sexism both shape the idea of women being inferior to men.

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Advertising is a major influencer of sexism and patriarchal power in popular culture. Almost every commercial shows women being portrayed in a sexual way. However, it rarely shows men being portrayed in the same manner. It has been made clear that “sex sells” in advertising. An example of sexual advertising would be Carl’s Jr. commercials. In almost all of their commercials there is an attractive woman eating a burger in a very sexual way, which is very appealing to men. This sparks up the issue of sexism because of the way women are being portrayed as sex objects. In other commercials, men are seen as wealthy and powerful, for example in car commercials. Most car commercials show the men driving the nice cars and the women driving minivan ‘mom cars.’ This shows that men are normally the ones to have more expensive and fast cars, and women have cars to drive their children around. In an article researching consumer attitudes towards sexist advertisements, it found that “sexist advertising was shown to influence consumer attitudes of a company negatively.” (Andersson and Schytt) This shows that companies don’t realize that most people don’t like the sexist ads, and it doesn’t persuade people more to buy their products. Sexist advertising may help some companies, but not everyone enjoys them. They often show hidden signs patriarchy and sexism, that not many people think about in their daily lives.

Another major influential source of sexism and patriarchy in popular culture is music, especially gangsta rap. An issue with gangsta rap is how most of the songs are very misogynistic. These songs portray women as sex objects and men as powerful, which brings up patriarchy, since the songs explain men making the money, and women not having power. An article titled “Misogyny in Rap Music,” stated that the rap music’s “messages are thus both essentialist and normative—portraying men and women as inherently different and unequal and espousing a set of conduct norms for each gender’s proper behavior toward the other and sanctions for those who violate these norms.” The way men and women are portrayed in rap music creates unequal norms that have a large effect on the people who listen to the music.

Television is another important part of popular culture that portrays men and women in stereotypical ways. It starts as early as young children shows and continues to adult only shows. It can have heavy effects on children when they watch because men and women are being portrayed in stereotypical ways. A popular children’s show “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” portrays the male characters as independent and adventurous. The female characters stay home and do housework everyday while the male characters get to leave the house. These shows depict the males as strong and powerful, and the women as motherly and focused on their physical appearance. These gender stereotypes are taught to children at a young age and can have negative effects on the children who watch them. After young girls watch these shows, they think that they can only stay home and have babies, and the men can go out and have jobs. The stereotypes also influence the children’s future career choices because the shows portray women as being nurses, teachers, and mothers; men are portrayed as firefighters, doctors, and police officers. Some children shows, such as Doc McStuffin defy the typical gender stereotypes because it has a female character as a doctor. It is extremely important that parents are aware of the shows their children watch because it can affect them drastically.

Social media has major influence on sexism with the way men and women are portrayed. When women post, their pictures are normally edited to perfection, and it’s kind of a “popularity contest.” Whereas for men it’s more important to post their cars, or show that they have money. Men aren’t normally the ones who edit their pictures or care about what they post.

Works Cited

Andersson, Hanna, and Emilia Schytt. Sexism in Advertising: A Qualitative Study of the Influence on Consumer Attitudes Towards Companies. Jönköping International Business School. May 2017. Jan. 2019 .

Weitzer, Ronald, and Charis E. Kubrin. Misogyny in Rap Music. Sage Journals. Oct. 2009. SAGE. Jan. 2019 .

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Popular Culture: Patriarchy and Sexism. (2019, Jul 09). Retrieved February 4, 2023 , from

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