Female stereotyping is one of the most common stereotyping seen in media. There are four basic stereotypes that females fall into: the femme fatale, the supermom, the sex kitten and the nasty corporate climber. In addition to these four categories, television, film and magazines have also given a portrayal of females as thin, white and always looking glamorous.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Women Portrayed in Television 1950s- Present Day

In the early days of television, women were portrayed as the perfect housewife. Characters such as Donna Stone in “The Donna Reed Show” (1958-1966) and June Cleaver in “Leave it to Beaver" (1957-1963) epitomized the American housewife as the “supermom” who participated in community events as well as doing household chores, such as vacuuming and making her husband and family dinner, all while wearing heels, chic frocks and a set of pearls. It was this characterization of women that led to Betty Friedman stating in an article for a 1967 issue of "TV Guide" that television has represented the American woman as “stupid, unattractive, insecure little household drudge who spends her martyred, mindless, boring days dreaming of love- and plotting nasty revenge against her husband.”
Around 1964 the femme fatale stereotype became popular with the characters of Samantha on “Bewitched” and Jeannie on “I Dream of Jeannie.” Jeannie was an unmarried woman who was only allowed to be portrayed as living with a man only because she slept alone in her bottle. The revealing “Jeannie” costume caused some controversy at the time but was allowed as long as Jeannie’s navel was not seen. Samantha, more like the female characters before her, was a typical surburban housewife. The main difference between her and her predecessors was that she was a witch and with a twitch of her nose magic happened. It was the magical powers of these characters that gave them the femme fatale persona. They both had a mysterious quality about them that led their male companions into various supernatural situations.
The sex kitten stereotype became even more popular in the 1970s with “Charlie’s Angel’s.” This series was about three attractive women who worked for a private investigator agency under the direction of the never seen Charles Townsend, or Charlie. Going under-cover, the women often wore provocative outfits to fit the part of their undercover character that showcased the figures and/or sexuality of the actresses.
In the 1980s and 1990s the female role shifted again with shows like “Roseanne,” and “Golden Girls” featured women in the working world. These shows did not represent the traditional “TV family” such as its predecessors. Roles shifted so much that many of the sitcoms of the time began to feature single-father families, such as in “The Nanny,” “Full House,” and “My Two Dads.”
In current broadcast network programming there is a greater representation of the different lifestyles of women in society due to the changes in gender role since the women’s movement as well as because the “new woman” is being recognized and networks are breaking down cultural stereotypes.

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