The qualitative study was directed to examine how media

The portrayal of gender in
advertisements has been a widely debated issue all over the world. A
qualitative study was directed to examine how media and local ads have an
effect on the youth group living in Karachi, Pakistan. The research indicates
that messages in local advertisements are unfair when it comes to gender as they
are highly stereotypical with the roles they establish. Snowball sampling
method was used to interview a total of 6 people, 3 of them being male participants
and 3 females. The interviews were recorded; written down and thematic analysis
was concluded.








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Men are from Mars and
Women are from Venus. The notion established by various writers, directors, physiologists
and advertisers that men and women are different and have different roles in
order to provide persuasive imagery and to develop a strong story. As human
beings we tend to classify other people into groups and most of the times this
classification is done on the foundation of gender as it is the most prominent
thing to the eyes when we interact with someone. As humans we also have a
tendency to generalize and consider all men being alike and all women being
similar, while considering both the genders extremely distinct from one
another. Not only market segmentation is done on the basis of gender but it is
used as an advertising strategy to generate sales and advertise products. This
is why gender studies, gender roles and behavior play a significant role
communication and marketing strategies. Men and women are depicted in extremely
stereotypical roles in advertisements throughout the globe.
There has been distress since the beginning of popular media with how people
are represented in the media, especially on how people from different ages,
gender, ethnic and professional groups are shown in conceivably stereotypical
roles or are underrepresented (Bollinger, 2008; Hazell & Clarke, 2007;
Nina-Pazarzi & Tsangaris, 2008). The portrayal of men and women in
television adverts and commercials have grabbed the most attention of
researchers (Kaufman, 1999).

Katz in his book Advertising and the Construction of Violent
White Masculinity crafts a variation between masculinity, building up that
there are different dissimilarities existing with the prevailing structure being
heterosexual, white and from the middle class. Gender that demonstrate violent behavior
within the patriarchal societies is mostly male. The basic contributor to this
representation of the behavior is the movie industry, as their ‘hero’ or male
driving symbols have a tendency to set up this by going up against the
predominant type of manliness. As per Katz, the idea of rough manliness began
amid the 1970s, as men needed to have a specific level of control over the
circumstances occurring around them, they needed to manage the monetary
variance, the ladies’ development. Quality and viciousness were the devices
that men of that time started to use so as to achieve the masculinity. The idea
that viciousness levels with manliness is unequivocally associated with
publicizing from multiple points of view. The support for the brutality in men
is the theory that violence is biologically inherited in men. Many advertisers
use masculine violence in military and sports ads, as it is trusted that the
men safeguarding the nation are manly and the games men are the victors who
spoke to as masculine. Our general public itself bolsters this perfect type of
manliness. All the male models utilized as a part of the promotions have
immense muscles, as it breaks even with manliness and thus, hostility. These
promotions nourish the possibility that men need to ceaselessly battle keeping
in mind the end goal to improve their being utilizing their image, partner with
the brave manliness which incorporates sadism. Along these lines, with a
specific end goal to be the legend, all things considered, men subliminally
adjust the rough part, in actuality, as that is the thing that they are being
encouraged always by the media. They influence different suggestions in which
they to pitch thoughts to be the ideal man, similar to progress can be
accomplished, be it getting the young lady or winning the race or a battle.
Some move can be made against these commercials in the event that we are
attentive and mindful about the influence they have on the guys in a general
public and how it contrarily influences their way of life. So also, the
possibility that how one ought to carry on especially as per their sexual
orientation is engraved in the brains when the a child is conceived, young
ladies are given cooking toys and stuffed teddy bears and are generally wearing
pink shaded dresses. While young men are coordinated towards savagery as they
are given toy firearms to play with and are wearing blue or other ‘masculine’
hues. This examination paper sets up that conventional social orders additionally
tend to shape the brains of females with respect to how they should act. Ladies
are educated to stay inside and take care of the family’s needs.

This research paper establishes
that traditional societies also tend to shape the minds of females as to how
they are supposed to behave. Women are taught to stay indoors and look after
the family’s needs, whereas men are to go outside and be the breadwinners of
the family. This phenomenon is engraved in our traditional societies even if
they tend to grow postmodern, this concept remains.


To measure the variances in male and
female’s thoughts regarding the influence of media and advertisements.

To understand how media establishes gender
roles through the advertisements.

To envision the diverse messages towards
both the genders in the mainstream media.

To identify media’s role as a norm setter/

Research Methodology

According to this topic,
this paper has been articulated to measure
the views of both males and female students studying at SZABIST, Karachi
Campus, between the ages of 18 to 25 years. Literature review is written on the
information based on published research journals, articles, news items and
other scholarly reports. The primary research has been conducted through focus
groups and interviews. There were 3 male students and 3 female students who participated
in the focused group after giving voluntary consent and the interviews/focus
groups were then transcribed, translated, coded and a thematic analysis was
carried out based on their responses. Complete confidentiality was sustained in
order to attain an un-biased methodology.




Literature Review

One cannot disagree to
the fact that Media has a considerable impact on the life of countless people
throughout the globe. As Kellner (2008) establishes the fact that our moralities
and values that differentiate between the right and wrong are strongly swayed
by the media. Especially in today’s era when we are surrounded with so much
media and consume it on a regular basis, it is something that should be assessed

One of the foremost representatives
that stereotype the ways in which both the genders are distinguished is media
(Wood, 1993). The portrayal of women can be classified broadly in two genres,
they are to be represented in traditional roles as mothers and family
caretakers or they are to be represented in an objectifying and sexual manner. As
suggested by Feldman & Brown (1984)
and Woodman (1991), various channels like MTV are a proof that women are presented
as if they existed to please men, fulfil their desires and meet their
fantasies. Men today on our television screens are represented as adventurous
and aggressive with their extreme dominant masculinity, while women are
portrayed as obedient, voiceless submissive wives or daughters (Wood, 1994).
According to Brown & Campbell (1986) men are hardly ever seen occupied in
household chores and are never given the nurturing roles like woman (Doyle,
1989). Whereas women according to Davis (1990) are usually sexualized and are highly
photo-shopped in order to portray the extraordinary perfect woman. The Gender
Schema theory suggests that absorb and learn from their surroundings how they
are supposed to behave, their culture tells them how to behave appropriately,
for instance, girls are supposed to look pretty, be submissive and play indoors
with dolls (Carter, D.B & McCloskey, 1983-1984). While boys are to indulge
in outdoor games and be adventurous. With such a thought, advertisements send
indirect messages to its viewers in order to reinforce the ideas in the minds
of the consumer (Pareles, 1990; Texier, 1990).

Media depicts the roles
of men and women through advertisements, which are viewed throughout the day on
a regular basis. According to Bascow (1992) men have authoritative roles
whereas women are portrayed as someone who has difficulty handling household
work. According to Pierce (1990) all that there is seen in woman’s magazine
issues are articles on how to look good and ways to maintain strong relationships
which establishes that the sole purpose of women is to look after their
appearance and work towards satisfying men in their lives or else they will be
left alone (Rakow, 1992). The abilities that women are encouraged to adapt are
exactly what gets them to becoming victimized. And the abilities that men are
encouraged to adapt is what gets them to be abusive to women. A prevailing
topic that media depicts is the imagery of the perfect woman in the minds of
the viewers. The perfect woman not only looks after the household chores but is
thin with the thigh gap and long legs, has the most clear skin and extraordinary
beauty. This idea of a perfect woman leads to young girls starving themselves
to death and falling into depression as a result of the failure in achieving
the idea of that perfect being, there is starvation with respect to numerous
ladies who battle with their typical physiology and body structure (Spitzack,
1993). With a specific end goal to satisfy and fulfill these social measures of
magnificence which are supported by the media, young girls go to pointless and
now and again perilous degree; undertaking surgeries and undesirable eating regiments
losing their self-esteem along the process of attaining that perfect unrealistic



A focused group session
was conducted with a total of 6 respondents who were interviewed, 3 of them
being male participants and 3 female, between the ages of eighteen to
twenty-five years. These respondents are the students of SZAIST University,
Karachi campus. Only after the consent of the participants the interview/focus
groups were directed with the reassurance of privacy being sustained. Because
of less time and space the sample size was of 6 people. A thematic analysis was
passed out and the research findings have been written according to the themes
which came out of the responses.

1.      Messages in local advertisements

were of the view that the advertisements seen locally on our television screens
portray not just roles that are stereotypical but also unrealistic. There is so
much editing in the print ads as well that women of age are getting Botox and surgeries
done and young women tend to starve themselves. Then there is the portrayal of
roles, the perfect daughter in law is supposed to be in a certain way to win
the hearts of the family, which puts societal pressure on women who are getting
married as everyone around them expects a lot from them. Regarding the men in  advertisements, the respondents were of the
view that even men are represented as tall, muscular and extraordinarily handsome
and strong, all the abilities that would attract females, which leads to losing
of confidence of men in real life.


2.      Morality according to Media

our culture especially, the respondents were of the opinion that media does
effect the values and morals of a person, be it of any sex.  For instance, the good woman will always be
shown dressed in eastern clothing, covered from head to toe, will be obedient,
will always stay within the four walls and offer her religious duties as well
as be dutiful to her husband. Whereas the bad woman will stay outdoors late,
have friends from the opposite sex and will have a voice of her own, will argue
and be stubborn in nature and will also be far from religion and will not involve
in household chores.

3.      Beauty criteria set according to

to the respondents these advertisers in order to attract the ratings of their
advertisements and promote the brand and sell the products, most beautiful
looking women are used in these ads that are heavily edited as well. Also, fair
skinned women are considered as beautiful and dark complexioned women are considered
the opposite. Because of which there are so many ads that promote whitening
creams and because of this thought there is a fear in young girls with dark
skin that they won’t get proposals for marriage and thus, they won’t be accepted
in the society. This heavily effects their self-esteem and shatters their

4.      Men depicted as masculine and violent

according to the respondents are shown as robust and emotionless. Men that have
emotions are considered weak, whereas the concept of manhood lies in aggression
and dominance. They are shown in the lease nurturing roles as compared to how
the women are represented. Whereas women are vulnerable and emotional on screens.

5.      Women as strong and independent

respondents believed that women are hardly ever given independent and strong
roles on TV. They are the ones that don’t have a voice of their own and are a
submissive to the family and men in their lives. They are heavily emotional.
They are not allowed to choose their own partner for marriage and are not
allowed to go outdoors alone. It’s our society as a whole that has difficulty
in accepting this, it is heavily engraved in our culture.

breaks or sets the norms?
respondents believed that media plays a huge role in reinforcing norms,
especially the females participants. According to them the ideas that media
reinforces are engraved in the minds of the families of their own and they
struggle with it themselves. As media suggests what a perfect or a good
daughter or a wife should behave. She should dress in cultural clothing, satisfy
and meet the needs of the family at home, stay indoors, cook food and be
obedient. This is the ‘ideal bahu’ in our culture.

7.      Who chooses the content that is to go
on air?  

female respondents suggested that it’s mostly the men that decide what content
is supposed to go on air and women in the industry do not have a say. However
the male respondents completely disagreed to this and taking the popular
Pakistani channel names suggested that women do have the authority as well.  

8.      What should be done?
believed that there should be awareness created with regards to how media is
influencing our daily lives, as most of the people today are still oblivious to
the fact that how it has a massive impact on our lives. By generating more
awareness the audiences that consume media on a regular basis will have the
ability to see the right and the wrong, to know the difference. It will open
their eyes enough to know what media is doing to our minds. Secondly, they
suggested that there should be strict laws on what content goes on air, a
thorough check before programs and ads are aired. Women should be given strong
roles that would be an inspiration for the young women living in our country
and men should be shown as less non-violent beings.



There is absolutely no
denying in the fact that media does have a massive impact on our lives, as it
is discussed and established in the Literature review and the analysis, that
media and the advertisements play a huge role in setting the norms and
stereotyping the roles of both genders, it sub consciously reinforces the ideas
in our minds and sets the societal norms. However, it is an entity that can be
used positively as well. 


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