Radio often serves as a unifying sources of entertainment, however, its unifying effects have the potential to be harmful. Through personality portrayal and targeted advertising, radio entertainment often perpetuates stereotype. A prominent form of such stereotyping is gender.
In order to appeal to a mass audience, radio broadcasters often resort to stereotyping. By creating a message that aligns with popular perceptions, stereotyping allows radio broadcasters to connect with a larger audience more effectively and thus retain a following.
Take, for example, a study analyzing the NBC portrayal of male gymnasts the 2012 Olympics in comparison to other Olympic athletes. The study noted that “male gymnasts were more likely to have their success credited to athletic skill/strength and composure” while “Male athletes competing in all sports except for gymnastics were more likely to have their successes attributed to their experience.” The distinction? Male gymnast success, by default, were characterized by emotion, something largely attributed to women, whilst non-gymnast male Olympians were characterized by hard work. Along similar lines, “Male gymnasts were also more likely to receive comments about being modest or introverted and have their emotional state described.”
The study indicates that “Student athlete participation in men’s gymnastics decreased by 75 percent between 1981-1982 and 2011-2012” To what do we owe this drastic decrease? The social feminization of gymnastics and the fear of being categorized as effeminate pressures males to distance themselves from the sport.
What To Keep in Mind
It is important that in the pursuit of an audience we don’t sacrifice the integrity of a message. It may appear harmless, but in actuality the effects of gender stereotyping are severe. By stereotyping, we discredit individual identity and force a socially-constructed identity on ourselves and others.