English Name University 2017 Essay Societies Limitations on Gender Narratives

Through the intersectionality of the related identities within a culture, one may experience one’s interpretation and performance of gender. Gender narratives are accounts of people’s identities formed through a variety of relationships formed and built within a community. Narratives tell us about people’s lives, their life, and their experiences as a male or female, a grandchild or a child or a parent, and as a mother or a father, among other positions and identities, who live in a particular community. This paper is intended to analyze the role played by the societies to limit the perception of the narratives regarding the gender of the people within a society. Gender illustration through varied media has contributed towards the creation of boundaries which becomes a bit difficult to cross. The main argument of the essay is that the limitations of gender narratives include the constructions devised by the society through diverse incorrect depictions of females in context to their personal perception and experience of the gender. The society especially through media gives a very much manipulated representation of the gender and adds confusion to their (and even others also) perception by portraying them differently, limiting the narratives, and the inclusion of women for counter narratives are essential to confront it.

Gender narratives reflect the direct depiction of the stories associated with a specific gender due to the perceptions of the person (Eckert, 2013). But, it is very much important to mention that the field for perceiving such perception is crafted to depict the females differently. Researchers and scholars have found very interesting results regarding the gender narrative through their experimental studies. In “4 Ladies Get The ‘Cover Model’ Makeover Of Their Dreams … And Then Hate The Results” all the four ladies for the project were shocked to watch them rendering in a different way. The ladies were given ‘cover model’ makeovers to make look beautiful and were photographed like real models. The women were surprised to see their changed features on the photographs. Their interpretation of their own photographs was shocking because one of them said: “Just as a normal person, seeing yourself change and your identity change, it’s pretty shocking”. The narrative they created was a fake one and the women were given false representation, and according to one of the ladies “I think because I know myself, this looks really different”. This is interesting to see that what would others see if they just see the photos? The answer would be totally different because people are being conditioned to look at certain things in a certain way. That is how stereotypes and clichés are being created in context to the females and women or any other gender for that matter. But, to the ladies, chosen for the experiment, everything looked very bogus. They hate for not being portrayed as ‘who they are, and how do they look like? “Why would you want to make someone look so different?” asked a woman. All such aspects of representation account for off beam perception which the people observe and perceive accordingly.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s Miss Representation attempts to uncover the under-representation of women given by the main stream media. Newsom specifically portrays poor depiction of women’s role in power positions and influence in the United States. The disparaging portrayal of women has created a sense of weakness and submissive character among the women folk of America (Newsom). Such narratives sow and nurture the seeds of poor-representation and false illustration of the women’s’ real powers. Such bewildered attempts induce manipulated perception among the people who are exposed to such propagandistic depictions. Newsom creates a very narrative, very different from most of the established one, to instigate a deep understanding of the women’s plight in the 21st century. She recounts influential stories from teenage girls and stimulating interviews with journalists, activists, business-women, entertainers, politicians, academics, and scientists including Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson, Katie Couric, Condoleezza Rice, Rachel Maddow, Gloria Steinem, and Nancy Pelosi to shape the politics behind Miss Representation for some staggering realities and statistics to shake the very socio-psychological existence of the audience. The gender narratives presented in the movie offers a new stand for new perspectives to develop counter narratives (Bamberg, 2004).

Similarly, in her other movie, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, The Mask You Live In recounts the stress and struggle of boys and young men to follow an abnormal approach to perceive their society (Newsom). Persuasive and pressing natures of the media along with atypical orders from their peers, these boys are tagged as violent, womanizers, and filthy studs. Newsom recommends that such created stereotypes need to be eliminated and that is why this movie itself acts as a step towards this cause to create an aura where these young men can regain their lost identities and become ‘real’ men. The loss of identities lands these young men, on whom the future of the country depends, becomes victims of depression and inferiority (Battle, 1980). Intersectionality is a key element that takes place here and shapes the character of the young men (Alsop, Fitzsimmons, & Lennon, 2002).

Living in a stressed situation throughout the world, women are trying to get rid of the prompted identity issues initiated by mainstream media. For instance, four women including Hannah Halpern, Amina Iro, Reina Privado, and Asha Gardner have changed the way the world looks at them (Warren, 2013). All these women have overpowered the socioeconomic and political issues by changing the way they stereotyped (Gilkey, 2014). For example, Amina Iro moved out of the religious and cultural constraints by making her decision of not adopting the hijab (Guest, 2011). Lynsey Addario came up ‘It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War’ that accounts her life as a war photographer and the issues and the associated stereotypes (Addario, 2015). Her bold confrontation is a very bold example of the potential of a woman who can take up any challenge to mark her presence as a leader.

Media, especially the visual, being very persuasive in nature creates images that are mostly manipulated either intentionally or unintentionally induces certain stereotypes which influence the very existence of gender. The visual images manufactured by the media for a certain purpose disseminates some ideologies that instigate identity issues and thus, affects the gender narratives in a (real) society. One of the best ways to tackle such havoc is to create some space in the main stream media for actual representation of the potential of the genders with the domains of caste, ethnicity, and culture etc.

Newsom and other women film-makers, the fantastic four girls who changed the way they used to be, and others like Lynsey Addario who wrote ‘It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War’ have contributed to challenge the identity issues faced by the women folk from around the world. The inclusion of women in the main stream media is the prerequisite to reorganize the gender narratives for effective and actual perception. The counter narratives would document the stories according to certain categories that do arise from the aura one inhabits including culture and customs, education, socio-economic status, profession, race and ethnicity, and sex etc. The encouraging attempts made by


Addario, L. (2015). It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War. Penguin Press.

Alsop, R., Fitzsimmons, A., & Lennon, K. (2002). Theorizing Gender. Polity Press. pp. 64–93.

Bamberg, M. (2004). “Considering Counter Narratives”. Clark.edu. Clark.edu. 

Battle, J. (1980). “Relationship Between Self-Esteem and Depression Among High School Students”. Perceptual and Motor Skills.

Eckert, P. (2013). Language and Gender (Second ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gilkey, M. (February 17 2014). 4 Ladies Get The ‘Cover Model’ Makeover Of Their Dreams … And Then Hate The Results. Retrieved from http://www.upworthy.com/4-ladies-get-the-cover-model-makeover-of-their-dreams-and-then-hate-the-results-11113?c=reccon1 Retrieved on 06 Aug. 17

Guest, K. (18 December 2011). “Girls will be girls: The battle for our children’s hearts and minds this Christmas”. The Independent. London. Retrieved 13 April 2013

Newsom, J.S. Miss Representation. Movie

Newsom, J.S. The Mask You Live In. Movie

Warren, R. (October 30 2013). Watch These 4 Girls Destroy The Female Stereotype Like The Monsters They Are. Retrieved from http://www.upworthy.com/watch-these-4-girls-destroy-the-female-stereotype-like-the-monsters-they-are-rw1-9b Retrieved on 06 Aug. 17

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