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Women still stereotyped in TV commercials: report

While society moves toward the diversification of gender roles, TV commercials’ portrayals of women are still bound by stereotypes, the National Human Rights Commission said Monday.

In its report on 2,046 TV commercials aired in 2010, it found that men were flexibly depicted, moving away from fixed perceptions of them in patriarchal roles. Women, however, were superficially and prejudicially portrayed based on stereotypes.

Researchers of the agency marked 1 point if an advertisement showed stereotypical content such as men showing macho or chauvinistic characteristics and women displaying sweet-tempered, modest sides. Minus 1 point was given for clips that did the opposite. If an advertisement was set at a work site, factory or other “masculine” place, it was given +1 for men or -1 for women. If it depicted a home or family, it gained a +1 for women and -1 for men.

Their study found that the roles of men have diversified, with images of men now taking up traditionally feminine roles: Their index marked -0.922.

In one baby food advertisement, famous TV show host Kang Ho-dong, was portrayed as an “at-home dad.”

Actor Won Bin cooked for his girlfriend to sell electronic cookers and pop star Lee Seung-ki danced and chatted with his mother by a refrigerator in a commercial for a kimchi storage unit.

However, advertisements featuring women received +2.388, a reflection of businesses still favoring a traditional portrayal of women as aesthetic beings.

Most of time, ad models were young and “pretty,” and featured largely in commercials appealing to consumers’ emotional side.

“Men are perceived as more sensible, emotional and family-friendly, breaking from fixed ideas of them as patriarchal figures. It is a reflection of the actual trend on gender roles,” Kang Hye-ran, lead researcher, said.

“However, women are still tied to stereotypes. They should be perceived and described to reflect their changed roles,” she added.

By Bae Ji-sook (
Korea Herald Youtube