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gender stereotypes

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See also stereotyping.

1. Personal beliefs about gender differences in traits and behaviour, largely attributable to socialization.

2. Standardized representations of men and women within a culture, particularly in the mass media, which polarize differences between the sexes, notably in their physical appearance, traits, behaviours, and occupations. The stereotypes are so widely known that on the basis of identifying any one element in a gender stereotype (such as physical appearance), people regularly make inferences about other elements associated with it. Hence the widespread use of such stereotypes as a convenient shorthand in the various fiction genres in the mass media. Such representations are widely regarded as a key factor in gender role socialization, functioning as a conservative influence on cultural reproduction. They have often been studied using content analysis and semiotic approaches.

3. A cultural system of binary oppositions of concepts with gendered connotations such as, in traditional Western cultures: active/passive, mind/body, reason/emotion, objective/subjective, public/private, culture/nature. In each case the first term in the pair is gendered as masculine. Similarly, the connotations of formal features such as straight vs curvy, plain vs fancy or colourful, literal or denotational vs metaphorical or connotative, hard vs soft, coarse vs fine, and heavy vs light.

4. In communication styles, the gendering of instrumental and task-oriented communication as masculine and of expressive and relational communication as feminine.

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Subjects: Media studies

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