New technology and gender stereotyping

Written By: Ian Chepkuto
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The advent of new technology and research has promoted new machines and communication styles which have contributed to new ways in which people carry out duties, the way they dress, eat, speak and communicate with each other or even walk. Photo by Pinterest
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Technology has greatly impacted in our lives either positively or negatively. Without it, there would be no development in the world.

However, while human development cannot occur without technological innovation and diffusion, it has distorted gender differently.

Most celebrities, scientists or researchers agree that there is one major contributing factor we can credit for either positive or negative rise of body-perception, the new media and technology.

The American brands like Dove and American Eagle have launched campaigns to help women learn to appreciate their bodies regardless of how they compare to media standards.

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Though we don’t have agency representing men, the research shows that men face smaller challenges like body complexity.

All areas of life have witnessed changes in society, therefore, resulting to new mindsets and ways of viewing events.

The advent of new technology and research has promoted new machines and communication styles which have contributed to new ways in which people carry out duties, the way they dress, eat, speak and communicate with each other or even walk.

According to researchers Elizabeth L. Haines, Kay Deaux and Nicole Lofaro, Changes in the activities and representation of women and men in society have unquestionably occurred since the early 1980s.

The observations state that gender stereotypes are stronger today, it shows how men avoid “traditional” female roles.

Gender traits continue to be affected every day because media portray new ways of improving lifestyles leading to greater consumption of messages.

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The leading influencers are the internet, Television, radio and print media i.e. magazines. Programs and information aired over this media present different perception of the roles each gender should play.

If you grew up in Kenya in 90s, then you must be remembering Kenya Broadcasting Corporation’s best programme. The American’s based programme, the “B.B” or ‘The Bold and Beautiful’ which made Kenyans glued to their sets.

The intense romances between Ridge Forrester, Brook Logan and Dr Tayler Hayes. The scenes made Kenyan women to fall in love with Ridge who had magical love-triangles with women.

The programme portrayed sets of new characters for men and women in society. Later other better programme came and changed the world completely.

Gender traits and roles among men and women in society

Wrongful gender stereotyping still affects relationships in our societies. Failure to address violence and quarrels in the families, settling marital affairs, for instance, societal perception about woman as the sexual property of men and the stereotype that women should protect themselves from sexual violence by dressing and behaving modestly.

The diminishing role of men in the modern family

Traditionally, the gender ideology located the essence of manhood in the role of a material provider; women were defined as wives and mothers.

Their role was to sit back at home, do household chores and take care of the children while the man toiled to provide for the family.

As such, it would be unimaginable to picture a reverse situation where a woman stood as the sole material provider in a house.

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The new technology, especially the mass media, has distorted this formerly accepted norm by depicting the modern woman as one who is independent and who can singly provide for her family.

Staying in the house and waiting upon a man to provide is no longer the expectation for the modern woman.

Today, the media portrays a picture of women who are empowered enough to do without the input of men, at times stretching the fabrics of the family hood as more and more people embrace these portrayals.

The observations state that gender stereotypes are stronger today, it shows how men avoid “traditional” female roles.

An ideal female-body 

The actual meaning of an ideal woman is a mother who bonds the family while man is outside looking for daily bread.

In 90s and below, traits define an ideal woman in the society as fat and ‘healthy’. At least this showed that her husband kept her and fed her well.

A skinny woman was scorned for wasting the food her husband piled on her. She would be ridiculed and expected to bear unhealthy children.

In the modern days, women fight for against weight and shape. For one to earn respect and look attractive, they must be tall, slim and light-skinned.

This has essentially distorted society’s perspective and made them use make-up kits to enhance their beauty in the ways portrayed by the media.

Take an example from the Kenyan scene. The growing unrest among women who consider themselves fat has led to a superfluous emergence of slimming products being advertised everywhere.

Kenya’s Citizen TV even initiated a program called ‘Slimpossible’ targeting women who wish to lose weight.

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Why do men feel pressure to look a certain way?

The ‘ideal’ male physiques have been related to superhero stories showing them to be brave, dependable and honourable, for one to survive you need good bi-ceps or muscles.

Back in the 90s, the evening programme WWE aired in KBC featuring Steve Austin, Undertaker (Dead-man), The Rock and Donald Trump (US President) among other wrestlers,  portrayed men as bold, muscular and fighter.

The gender ideology of man in a family is to provide

They are shown struggling to meet their basic needs and maintain their families. Most information involving men in the media portrays them working in construction sites or other strenuous areas like distance hauling.

Today, all sorts of adverts and publicity, portray men as intelligent, leaders and decision-makers in society.

They do so through investing, business ventures, construction, borrowing loans from banks and engaging in profit-making companies.

Advertisements concerning building or leasing companies target men who are perceived to have greater potential of investing in them as opposed to women.

Conclusion  

The information we get today and technology we use has brought a marked in the way society portrays and view roles. The role of men in the family is diminishing as women rise to take up leadership positions.

The perception of the bodies of women has changed, as has the approach of the female gender in matters pertaining to marriage, love and sex. All these have come because of a revolution in technology affecting the mindsets of people.

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