Karen, Kason, Man, Winnie: Week8 "Gender Stereotypes"

Gender Stereotypes in Mass Media

It is normal that the mass media use a specific term to label and stereotype a particular group of people. For instance, “Post-80’s” stereotypes youngsters who were born in the 1980s; they are radical and opponent towards the government. However, as the society we live in changes, we also see an apparent change in gender stereotypes, resulting in new labels and new meanings.

In the past, the general stereotype for men is hardworking, a leader, full of authority, taking care of the family financially, and having a successful career. Meanwhile, women were stereotyped to be caring, submissive, serving her husband, doing all the house chores, and taking care of the children. This type of female was appreciated as “virtuous” in the Chinese society. In the past, a good marriage was regarded as the best achievement for women. Some people even thought that marriage is a measurement for a womans life value.

Nowadays, however, new terms have arisen due to the mass media, resulting in reversed stereotypes for both genders. Hong Kong men are now often labeled as “Kong Guys” (港男), while Hong Kong women are called “Kong Girls” (港女), or, in certain cases, “Middle-Aged Women” (中女).

Firstly, “Kong Guys” refers to men who are isolated from others, often staying at home, playing with computers and electronic gadgets, and thus, leading to weak communication and interaction skills. These “Kong Guys” often hold a grudge against “Kong Girls”, causing them to constantly desire for their “goddess” (their ideal lover) and hiding in the virtual world.

Why would “Kong Guys” resent “Kong Girls”? The men dislike these “Kong Girls”, who supposedly act very arrogant. According to the media, “Kong Girls” are young women who are materialistic, narcissistic, money-crazy, and cannot cook and do house chores. They often have the “Princess Syndrome”, which means the girls expect their boyfriends to treat them like princesses, for example, pay for everything, buy them everything, etc.

Finally, as for “Middle-Aged Women,” these are typically women over 26 years old, can no longer be identified as “young”, have successful careers with an overflowing income, some even more than men, are smart and powerful, and thus, have a high social status. The only drawback is that they are unmarried and are “failures” when it comes to love relationship. Some media, like TV networks, will label them and use them as the topic for soap operas. A Taiwan’s word-of-mouth drama called My Queen (敗犬女王)”, uses such a theme. It is a reflection of gender stereotype in the media.

Thus, the current stereotypical roles of men and women are completely reversed, comparing to conventional roles. Women are now portrayed as powerful, while men are weak.

In the last two years, we have found that the three aforementioned terms have grown more popular in Hong Kong citizens’ conversation, after some people have published these issues on web forums. In this case, we defined these terms as stereotypes that people tend to label others who share some of the common characteristics as a group, with most of these terms connoting depreciatory meanings.

Originally, the two terms “Kong Girl” and “Kong Guy” have been in use for many years as an abbreviation to neutrally describe Hong Kong females and males, usually used in newspapers. Yet, many Internet users recently implied some other meanings on these terms to portray negative images. For instance, Net surfer likes to use “Kong Girl” to define Hong Kong girls with evil characteristics like materialism, narcissism and arrogance. Is it true that all of the Hong Kong females hold these negative characteristics?

And why do people commonly feel that women should not be like this? Actually, these terms are sourced from common gender stereotypes portrayed by the mass media. The media had always shaped the roles of both genders. The general public is probably discontent when the fact (reality) does not match with their imagination and recognition. Then, they tend to show their disappointment on the Internet, which finally produces another stereotyping towards the opposite gender. Someone has tried to clarify that the term “Kong Girl” is not only inclining to describe Hong Kong females, but to indicate that all females in the world have those evil characteristics. But why should Hong Kong girls be the representatives of females with bad manners around the world? To explain in any way, “Kong Girl” and “Kong Guy” are not neutral terms anymore since they connote social stereotyping towards gender.

Meanwhile, it has almost become a trend for Hong Kong citizens to use the term “Middle-Aged Women” as a description. The major cause of this is obviously because of the media playing up these labels in a large coverage. We can see different kinds of TV programs, comics, movies, and even pop songs describing many characteristics of this group. The media and the fiery discussion among online forum members advance many new meanings to these new terms, hiding the original meanings. And now, we have new definitions to “Kong Guy”, “Kong Girl” and “Middle-Aged Women”.

Due to the evolution of the society, the role of women has changed. Females are no longer confined in housework. More importantly, they are not the appurtenant of men anymore. Nowadays, women have an equal status as men and can perform outstandingly in the work force. Women’s power is increasing, catching up with men’s power, possibly even surpassing men’s. However, the traditional perceptions about women are deeply rooted in Chinese society. The deviation of the conventional roles and the present roles of both men and women leads to gender stereotypes, existing in mass media and the general public’s minds.


星期日檔案《港女講男》 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzvXqcozjIA



“Gender Stereotypes” http://people.unt.edu/jw0109/misc/stereotype.htm

“Gender Stereotypes” http://www.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/Gender_stereotypes.pdf



No comments:

Post a Comment