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The role of women on television

In the 1950s, the nuclear family was widely represented in situation comedy, while in contemporary television programming, divided families, single-parent families, and non-traditional families vie with the nuclear family for television time. Gender is also represented in the advertising, which can be more problematic. Commercials have as their object selling products, and they generally treat all viewers as malleable clay to be shaped into the sort of buyer desired. Children are particularly vulnerable to advertising for products of interest to them and pick up messages about gender roles from characters and situations in commercials as in programs.

One problem noted for television is the distorted image given of women and minorities in particular. The Report of the United States Commission on Civil Rights stated that minorities and women were underrepresented on television: "When they do appear they are frequently seen in token or stereotyped roles" (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights 3). In the 1950s, says the Commission, women had particular roles as homemakers:

Television households were always spotless and smoothly managed, but the women who maintained them usually looked as though they spent most of their time in the beauty parlor. Women were rarely portrayed outside the home or family situation. When they ventured into the occupational world their roles were stereotyped (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights 8).


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