We came across many aspects and concepts of male and female identities in media. Some results were surprising, but most of them unfortunately not.


After doing different analyses, I want to use this last post to see what an expert thinks about male and female representations in media. Therefore, I asked Oliver Zoellner, professor for media- and marketresearch and sociology of market communication, for an interview and fortunately he agreed. For those of you who speak German, here is a detailed summary of our interesting interview.

How much influence does media have, especially on young people?

We are living in the age of mediatization and people increasingly experience the world through media. Therefore, media plays a central role in our lifes and particularly social media helps young people exploring their identity.

(How) did media change in terms of male and female representations and how do they deal with this topic nowadays?

Looking at advertisements and magazines from the 1950s and 60s, one can notice strong gender clichés that were portrayed in a very humorless way. Women were primarily presented as housewives or glammed up supporters of their men. These rigid stereotypes were outrun. Especially the influence of the gender debate led to new female and male identities like “the soft man” and “the self-reliant working woman”. Nowadays media often presents a mix of gender stereotypes and its ironical suppression. Yet, we often still see typical gender roles in media.

Why do we still see stereotypes in media?

On the one hand, there are still many people following these obsolete gender roles and on the other hand media has the function of simplifying the complexity of reality. Therefore, media often establishes a narrative for a certain target group which is easy to understand – and this can be done by the use of stereotypes.

Do we in some way need stereotypes and clear gender roles?

I think one big question in these days is: Who is a man and a woman? I feel like people got really insecure when it comes to this question and the presentation of stereotypes is an expression of this insecurity. Moreover, people start getting afraid of being a “typical” man or woman. What if I want to get a baby at the age of 28 and not 40? Is that ok?
Media plays an important role in this negotiation of female and male identities.

How will media representations of men and women look like in the future?
Is there a chance for rethinking stereotypical gender representations?

This is hard to predict. Whether the portrayal of gender roles will change or not is not only a question of media. It definitely plays an important role, but searching for monocausal explanations and hence railing only at media is not the right way. Rather we need to look at the ideals and values spread in our educational system and our families. People need to recognize power structures delimiting their opportunities for development. But I think we are well on the way to doing this.

Thanks to Oliver Zoellner for the interesting conversation and thank YOU for reading my posts.

Let´s keep on with rethinking thinking!




[1] = Image created by myself