GENDER AND THE MASS MEDIA: AN ANALYSIS OF GENDER REPRESENTATION IN TV COMMERCIALS AIRED DURING PRIME TIME NEWS ON CITIZEN TV STATION.

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ABSTRACT
This research project sought to investigate the portrayal of each gender, gender representation and stereotypes propagated in TV commercials. Although great strides have been made in the area of gender equality in the society it is interesting to note that TV commercials in Kenya do not reflect this change. There are still TV commercials that portray men and women in stereotyped roles even with changes in society on gender equality. This has contributed greatly to the thought that television commercials do not emulate the advancement of the gender equality movement which has made great strides especially in recent years (Eisend, 2010). The research method used was Content Analysis of 24 commercials aired on Citizen TV during prime time news. The findings of this study showed that the most prevalent roles for women were Home maker and Mother which ultimately contributed to the most common stereotype for women which is the Housewife. These women were consistent with the expectations in Africa, where plump women are the benchmark for prominence, virility, elegance and well being. The study also revealed that the most prevalent role for men among the sampled TV commercials was the Traditional man. This contributed greatly to the most prevalent stereotype for a man which was the Buffoon. He is the man of the house and rarely shown participating in the house chores. This has led to the conclusion that it is therefore important that brands should be careful with the roles and messages they pass across ensuring that they don’t deceive their target customers on the benefits. It is therefore important that TV commercials consciously represent African ideals of beauty while avoiding objectification of women. There should also be equal representation of each gender in narrations and in roles such as parenting.

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