American Culture and the Gender Role
Social psychologists generally argue that American popular culture continues to reinforce rather than challenge traditional gender roles (Baron and Byrne 195-197). While many popular cultural icons such as film stars, rock singers, and athletes may reject traditional gender roles in favor of greater autonomy and androgynous identities, the vast majority of male and female cultural icons continue to depict traditional gender roles and stereotypes in which women are seen as sex objects and family caregivers and males as aggressive, competitive breadwinners and leaders (Baron, Byrne, and Johnson 202-203).
This writer and most family and friends tend to respond to the mass media by accepting much that is presented as valid, particularly with respect to popular sports, film, television, and music stars whose lifestyles are often emulated to the extent possible by ordinary people. The most influential such individuals today appear to be rap and hip hop singers among younger people, film stars such as Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie, star athletes such as Lebron James, and others too numerous to mention. These individuals influence human and social behavior by suggesting that their lifestyles are desirable and their behaviors and attitudes should be emulated. When these individuals lend their names to consumer goods of lifestyle choices, the popularity of these items increases and they gain in status.
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