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In: Film and Music

Submitted By pareace
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Carter, C. (2011) “Sex/Gender and the Media: From Sex Roles to Social Construction and Beyond,” in Ross, K. (ed) The Handbook of Gender, Sex and Media, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN-10: 1444338544; 365-82. ISBN-13: 978-1444338546

Sex/Gender and the Media
From Sex Roles to Social Construction and Beyond
Cynthia Carter
In the early years of second-wave western feminism, many gender researchers and feminist scholars distinguished between the notion of sex, defined as biological differences between male and female, and ‘sex roles,’ referring to certain behaviors and characteristics attributed to each sex that was a social construction. The resulting media research centered on images of women in the media (much less emphasis was placed on men) in order to draw attention to inequities in their portrayal in relation to men (in quantitative terms as well as in terms of the use of stereotypes). Since the 1970s, however, the scope of social constructionism has greatly expanded in feminist theory. Some suggest that the distinction between the biological and the social has, as a result, eroded to such an extent that it is no longer possible to understand the difference, while others question the need for this distinction. For instance, in queer and transgender theory and feminist cultural studies, theorists have sought to make strange the ‘sex/gender’ distinction. The key argument made is that biology is no less a cultural construct than gender socialization into masculinity and femininity. While the point is that biology, like gender, is thought to be socially constructed, that does not mean that there is no such thing as biology. While it is notoriously difficult if not impossible to identify exactly what is driven by biology or by culture, identity scholars insist that this is not the central question that needs to be asked. Instead, identity...

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