role of women and definitions of femininity in our society. 


Purpose:           To investigate messages in the media and other environmental sources about the role of women and definitions of femininity in our society.

Format:            You must complete Parts 1, 2 and 3.  For Part 2 select either Option A or B  to complete.  All responses should be TYPED, DOUBLE SPACED, 12 point font, in Times New Roman or Courier formats.  If any quotations or sources are used, you must cite those sources using proper APA format.  A web site to assist you with proper APA formatting  may be found at :


Keith, T. (Producer, Director, & Writer). (2008). Generation M Mysogyny in Media and Culture [Documentary]. (Available from Media Education Foundation, 60 Masonic St. Northampton, MA 01060)

Kilbourne, J. (Producer), & Jhalley, S. (Director). (2010). Killing Us Softly 4 Advertising’s Image of Women [Documentary]. (Available from Media Education Foundation, 60 Masonic St. Northampton, MA 01060)


Answer the follow questions:

  • Define femininity for yourself. What does it mean to be a woman in our culture?
  • React to the films shown in class.  What were your thoughts?  What were the main points of the films? Did the arguments have any merit?  What do you disagree with and why?
  • Please find five different magazine advertisements from at least two different magazines.  They can be magazines of any type.  You will be submitting these ads.  You must identify the name of the magazine and its intended audience.  (If you need to look up the information and the magazine’s audience, please do so and cite your sources!!!  As we have discussed in class CONTEXT is very important.) What is this magazine selling or what is the purpose of this magazine? How popular is the magazine?
  • For each ad, describe what is being sold.  How do the images correspond with the product? Throughout your written analysis, be sure to make clear and specific reference to the images you selected. What are the messages being presented in the ad about women/men?  Does this support or refute what was presented in the films?  What are the messages one might take away about what it means to be a woman in this society?

PART TWO:  Select option A OR B

Option A:

Visit a card store and go to the section congratulating parents on the birth of their child. Examine at least three cards congratulating parents on the birth of a girl and three on the birth of a boy. Record your findings in the following grid. Summarize what you found and what it means for gender role socialization. (This means you have to WRITE about what you observed.)








Type of Toys

Action toys

Stuffed animals

Scientific images (robots,

spaceships, etc.)

Sports equipment



Cartoon figures

Children’s pictures


Shapes and figures









Words and attributes





Labels (prince, princess)



Option B

Instructions:  Visit a video game store and conduct an observation of the environment for about half an hour. Please be as unobtrusive as possible!  Record your findings below:

  1. How many girls ______ boys _________ women _________ men ________

did you observe ?

  1. View 6 games and record the main themes in the grid below.
















What games would you classify as for boys (doesn’t mean girls cannot play them)? And why? How were females portrayed in boys’ games? What games would you classify for girls?  And why? How were females portrayed in girls’ games?


  • What themes did you find in your observations in parts A and B? Were you surprised at anything you found?
  • What might the implications be of the messages you observed?
  • What do you see as the role of the media in the development and/or the maintenance of gender roles?
  • What effect(s), if any, do you think the objectification of women’s bodies has on the culture? Jean Kilbourne states “turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step toward justifying violence against that person.” What do you think she means by this? Do you agree with her reasoning? Why or why not?
  • Some people would argue that depicting a woman’s body as an object is a form of art. What is your opinion of this point of view? Explain your reasoning.
  • Why do you think that women are objectified more often than men are? Kilbourne explains that the consequences of being objectified are different – and more serious – for women than for men. Do you agree? How is the world different for women than it is for men? How do objectified images of women interact with those in our culture differently from the way images of men do? Why is it important to look at images in the context of the culture?
  • What role can girls and women play in diversifying the image of what it means to be a woman in

our culture? What role can boys and men play?

  • What have you learned from this exercise (if anything)? What will you do with this information?  What messages do you wish your mother/daughter/sister/niece to have about being a female?  Does it fit with the message you observed from doing this analysis?  If not, what can you do about it?

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