Where is the helpful husband? Not on TV! If women find their husbands reluctant to fold the laundry or wash the dishes, they may want to hide the television remote. And have you noticed that advertisers are targeting pre-adolescent girls, trying to sell them make-up and scanty clothing?

At Abercrombie & Fitch, little girls were sold thong underwear tagged with the phrases “eye candy” and “wink wink.” In Britain, preschoolers could learn to strip with their very own Peekaboo Pole-Dancing Kits?complete with kiddie garter belts and play money. And ‘tween readers of the magazine Seventeen discovered “405 ways to look hot” like Paris Hilton. This kind of sexualization of ‘tween girls?those between the ages of 8 and 12?in pop culture and advertising is a growing problem fueled by marketers’ efforts to create cradle-to-grave consumers.

New research shows that men, in particular, are influenced by television commercials that more often portray them in a career environment than doing domestic duties. Sociologist Valerie Hooper discovered that men are portrayed as the main character of commercials more than women (55.5% vs. 44.5% women). Most of the commercials featuring women focus on selling home products, such as food, cleaners, personal care items and furniture (51.5%).

Men are most likely to be engaged in work behavior in commercials (34.2%). Women are least likely to be portrayed working outside the home in commercials (13.1% of women).Only 2.1% of commercials featuring men showed them performing domestic tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, or caring for children. TV commercials are certainly behind the times, since over half the married women in the US work outside the home.

Men who viewed commercials with a male main character in a traditional, stereotypical male role were more likely to favor life goals related to a career, while men who viewed commercials with a male main character in a nontraditional, nonstereotypical male role were more likely to favor life goals related to the domestic sphere.

Researcher Gigi Durham says, “A lot of very sexual products are being marketed to very young kids.” Hooper agrees and says, “Commercials may affect the way that people think about their own gender, and contribute to the ongoing social stratification of genders in our society.”

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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