Media Analysis-Culture and Gender Roles

Subject: Culture and Gender Roles

Grade: 9th


Overview and Purpose

Objectives and Materials



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Overview and Purpose

Overview: This lesson begins our discussion of how culture influences our lives. In order to demonstrate this theme, students will examine ads from magazines to determine how they illustrate gender roles, and in turn, how this reflects our culture. So far, we have talked about the impact of geography and economics in our lives. In this lesson, students will understand that culture impacts our lives as well, just like geography and economics, and that in fact, culture forms the foundation from which we perceive the world. This media analysis activity models the skills they will need to demonstrate in the archeological research dig, the first assessment method in the unit.

Purpose: The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the concept of culture. The concept of culture will be illustrated by examining gender roles, illustrated in advertisements. Students will then assess how accurately these ads portray American culture by relating the ads to their own experiences.

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Objectives and Materials

Objectives: Students will be able to...

1. Define culture, gender, gender roles and sex from an anthropological perspective.

2. Analyze and interpret advertisements as an expression of our culture.

3. Compare and contrast how gender roles are portrayed in the media with their own personal experiences.


1. Packet of advertisements from Vogue, Esquire, and Newsweek, or any other popular magazine.

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I Anticipatory Set:

1. Ask: What is your favorite TV commercial or advertisement? Have them write their answer on a blank piece of paper. Have them save this sheet of paper-You will use it later to evaluate the lesson.

2. Discuss: Have students share their favorite commercials with the rest of class. Ask students to explain why they choose that commercial.

3. Transition: Explain to students that the media, commercials, and advertisement play an important role in American culture. Play on the responses of the students-everyone knew what a commercial was and could easily pick a favorite.

4. Ask: From our discussion we can see that commercials are an important part of our culture. Bur what is culture? Can anyone define culture?

5. Transition: Discuss "What is culture?"

6. Tell them: Emphasize that culture is a social creation, meaning, that culture teaches us to play roles so we can easily relate to each other. One type of role we play is gender roles, something we learn from birth.

7. Ask: Gender roles are displayed in commercial and advertisements. Can anyone define gender roles?

8. Discuss: Continue discussion on definition of gender roles. Help students differentiate between gender and sex so that they are using the correct anthropological terms.

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II Group Activity

1. Divide: Students into groups of five. Hand out advertisement packets.

2. Ask: Students to address the following questions in the group activity, writing the answers on sheet of paper (let them know you will collect this at the end of class-you will use it to evaluate the lesson):

--According to these ads, what are the characteristics of an attractive man and woman?

--How do these ads reflect "who is successful" in our culture. How do the ads measure success?

--What are the characteristics of ads with men in them?

--What are the characteristics of ads with women in them?

--In the ads with both men and women in them, how are the two portrayed together?

3. Walk around classroom, jumping into the group discussions in order to highlight the subtleties of the ads to further their analysis and interpretation. For example-What kind of colors are used in male/female ads? What do these colors symbolize? Is pink feminine?

4. Allow 20 minutes for activity.

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III Class Discussion:

1. Ask: What were the characteristics of male ads? List on board under the title "Masculine." Examples-rugged, tall, dark, muscular, etc.

2. Ask: What were the characteristics of female ads? List on board under the title "Feminine." Examples-skinny, tall, pink, etc.

3. Ask: How are men and women portrayed together in the ads? Who is in control in the ads?

4. From the list and discussion have students create generalizations about the roles of women and men, as illustrated in the ads. List generalizations on board.

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IV Closure

1. Ask: How do these generalizations from the ads compare with your own experiences? Do they reflect the gender roles in America?

2. Discuss: the points made by the students encouraging them to base their arguments from specific examples, such as the ads or their own experiences.

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V Evaluation:

1. Ask: students to analyze their favorite commercial(the one they picked in the anticipatory set) in terms of gender roles. Have them write it on a the blank piece of paper they used in the anticipatory set and collect them at the end of class. From their answers, determine whether students were able to apply the skills used in this lesson to analyze media and gender roles.

2. Have each group hand in the list they created in the group activity. Determine from list if they were able to analyze and interpret the ads.

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