Mass media plays a significant role in the any society. The media streams programs to educate and reprimand the society on areas that it goes wrong. Through the social media, one can understand the culture of any society even without having to interact with it (Hines 49).
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Moreover, by watching a television program or a film episode, one can easily identify the theme of the film as well as the target audience. Besides, it is possible to identify the level of gender interaction in society covered in a film. Since the medieval times, gender stereotyping has been a pertinent issue from one generation to another.
This behavior is depicted in films, television programs, and different writings. Films are form of the many avenues that propagate gender stereotyping. In the Titanic miniseries, gender stereotyping is prevalent across all the four episodes.
This paper critically reviews the first episode of the Titanic miniseries produced by Julian Fellows. The paper also brings out the nature of gender stereotyping in the episode and relate it with how people perceive gender in the modern world.
Preferred reading of the text
The media uses different signs to send messages by giving different meanings to varied symbols especially when it needs to deliver a coded message to a particular target group (Hines 52). In the Titanic, the film uses different signs to send messages.
The film portrays the ship as having numerous compartments that host different classes of people as a way of hyperbolizing the big size of the ship. Moreover, it portrays women in the first-class cabin as having big hats.
In a way, the director intends to emphasize that the people travelling in the first-class cabin were wealthy. Everyone in the ship is jubilating to signify how happy he or she is to travel in the ship.
Based on how the film is produced, it is evident that the film targeted all classes of people ranging from the rich through the middle class to the poor. In spite of the film indicating that the people travelling in the Titanic are divided based on their social status, the film goes ahead to show a high level of interaction among the different classes of people.
The idea of portraying a high degree of interaction among the social classes makes the film attractive to all classes of people (Sandler and Gaylyn 19).
It would have been hard for the middle class and poor people to watch a film that only shows the rich enjoying in the ship. On the other hand, the rich would not enjoy watching a film that comprises of the middle class and the poor people only.
For decades, societies have been contending with gender stereotyping. In most cases, gender stereotyping comes in the form of gender discrimination. More often than not, women suffer greatly from gender stereotyping, where men treat them as objects for satisfying their desires (Hines 53-57).
In spite of people understanding the dangers posed by gender stereotyping, they continue to propagate it for the sole purpose of solving their greedy motives. In the Titanic miniseries episode one, different forms of gender stereotyping are evident. One of the many stereotyping cases reflected in this episode is sexism.
Sexism refers to the prejudiced behavior towards a person or persons of the opposite sex. In the first episode, sexism is portrayed by the role given to Jenna-Louise Coleman. She is a beautiful woman who works as a cleaner in the ship. Normally, men tend to employ beautiful women as their house cleaners with an aim of using them to satisfy their sexual desires (Sandler and Gaylyn 23).
Coleman has the responsibility of serving the Italians travelling in the first-class cabin. This group comprises very arrogant Italian men and women. The first class is restricted from the middle-class people. Nevertheless, due to Coleman’s beauty, she wins herself the privilege to slip in and out of the cabin.
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Harry Widener is one of the characters in this episode. He is an American tycoon. Harry briefly dances with Georgiana and all of a sudden, he falls in love with her. He hardly takes time to know her. The relationship between the two is doubtful.
Harry takes advantage of his wealth to draw Georgiana close to himself for self-satisfaction (Sandler and Gaylyn 25). It is hard for people to fall in love within the first few minutes of their encounter. Individuals require enough time to understand one another. Nevertheless, the case between Harry and Georgiana is completely different.
Like a majority of men, Harry knows that it is hard for a woman to resist the advances of a wealthy man and he uses his affluence as a weapon to attract Georgiana.
Linus Roache is another person that brings out the level of sexism in society. Despite being a nobleman, he is a philanderer. He uses words and actions that demean women and portray them as sexual objects.
Apart from sexism, patriarchy is also dominant in the episode. It is possible to determine the level of patriarchy in a society by just looking at the role played by the different genders. In a society where men are conventionally superior to women, they tend to assign all the noble tasks to women.
Looking at the Titanic, the first episode depicts women as responsible for the noble tasks. For instance, Coleman is working as a house cleaner. This aspect signifies that even in the modern world, women are still inferior. Harry is another character that signifies the level of patriarchy prevalent in the United States.
He shows the level of the misconception that men are capable of luring any woman into love and submission. He dose not take time to learn about Georgiana, but he uses the first opportunity to lure her into loving him.
Besides patriarchy and sexism, the episode also portrays the tendency of women to rely on men in the society. A majority of women in the contemporary society continue to depend on men for providence as well as protection. Initially, the film portrays Georgina as an independent woman, who stands against all sorts of injustices perpetuated by men.
However, her encounter with Harry brings out her true character. She immediately starts relying on Harry for barely everything making the viewers to doubt her autonomy. As the ship starts sinking, Georgiana realizes that she cannot survive without depending on Harry, which shows how she has already submitted herself to Harry for protection.
Besides the stereotypes discussed in class, the episode also brings out other stereotypes. They include the belief that women ought not to play heroes in times of disasters. In the episode, as the ship starts to sink, Georgiana cries to Harry for assistance.
It portrays the perception that women can do nothing without the help of men in times of challenges. As Coleman slips in and out of the first-class cabin, she leaves everyone in the cabin fascinated by her beauty. This reflects the stereotype that women should appear attractive in order to gain attention.
These stereotypes relate to all the concepts in chapter eight in one way or another. All the stereotypes bring out the level of feminism in the society and portray the perceptions held by each gender.
From the episode, one can argue that these stereotypes are entrenched in people’s minds such that no gender complains of discrimination by the other. Every person appears to perpetuate the stereotypes as he or she goes about his or her activities.
Gender reversal refers to a situation where a person from one gender tends to play the role of the opposite gender. Conventionally, a man is supposed to make the first advance towards a woman (Hines 60-67). However, this move should not be emotional.
On the other hand, when a woman gets attracted to a man, she gets emotional and always uses all means to show how she is deeply in love with the man in question. It is hard to see a man expressing his emotions even if he is deeply in love with a woman.
Nevertheless, in the first episode of the Titanic miniseries, there is an instance of gender reversal. After Harry meets Georgiana and they dance together, he starts admiring her.
Eventually, his “love” towards Georgiana grows strong. Rather than waiting for the woman to reciprocate her love and express her emotions towards him, Harry becomes emotional and starts expressing his attraction towards Georgiana.
Men are mostly associated with all sorts of bad things. Most scandals tend to implicate men for rarely do women get involved in scandals. In most cases, women are polite and honest, which helps them to evade falling into scandals.
Besides, men fear involving women in their shoddy deals due to the fear that women might bolt away because of indecision and fear. However, the Titanic brings out Dorothy Gibson as a completely different woman. She stands out as a hot-tempered woman, a character that is mostly associated with men.
She dismisses Aubart from her breakfast table because she is from France. Moreover, Dorothy spends most of her time drinking. She is always with a bottle of brandy.
Women are not frequent drinkers not unless one is going through some kind of depression. However, Dorothy is not under any form depression. She voluntarily opts to take that line of life, which in most cases is associated with men.
Modern gender perceptions
In the past, gender tolerance was a nightmare. It was hard for men to tolerate women who engaged in activities preserved for men. On the other hand, men that engaged in activities meant for women were treated as inferior by not only the male folks, but also the entire society.
Today, civilization is gradually changing the perception of gender roles (Prince 82). Technological advancement and improvement in the education system is merging the different roles that once belonged to a particular gender.
Today, men are tolerant to women who engage in careers like engineering and mechanics among other areas that men dominated in the past. From the Titanic movie, it is evident that the modern society does not believe that only men are supposed to make advances on women.
Besides, the society believes that any gender has the right to be emotional when expressing its feelings. It is possible to see men crying when they are hurt by the people they love.
Moreover, in the contemporary times, women make advances on men they feel attracted to; however, if a woman made advances on a man in the past, she was sure that the man would turn her down. However, today, men freely accept women who make advances on them and the society has no problem with that behavior.
Heteronormativity refers to a set of lifestyle standards, which maintain that genders are complementary and have natural responsibilities in life. Heteronormativity holds that heterosexuality is the only conventional sexual orientation (Dreyer 23-27).
Consequently, the heteronormativity perception is one that entails the configuration of biological gender identity, sexuality, sex, and gender roles. The first episode of the Titanic miniseries reinforces the heteronormative perception of the world. From the episode, it is clear that both genders observe their different roles without any complaints.
Conventionally, women are believed to be responsible for duties like housewifery and house cleaning among others. In line with this perception, Coleman works as a house cleaner in the Titanic.
On the other hand, men are believed to engage in the most taxing careers like piloting and engineering among others. The captain steering the Titanic is a man. This role is in line with the world’s view that women can hardly deliver satisfactory results in such fields.
Besides, the film is in line with the world perceptions regarding gender identity. People identify themselves with a particular gender depending on their actions and behavior. Men are believed to be domineering, while women are seen as submissive.
The film reinforces this perception. For instance, Harry meets Georgiana on the dance floor for the first time and after dancing for a few minutes, he uses his affluence to lure her into love him. Men hardly resist the attraction to beautiful women. They use everything at their disposal to make sure that they win any woman they encounter.
This aspect happens to Harry who uses his wealth to make sure that he wins Georgiana. On the other hand, Georgiana confirms the perception that women are always submissive. She agrees to be submissive to Harry even though she meets him briefly. Eventually, she ends up realizing that she can do nothing without his help and thus she surrenders herself to Harry.
Link between sexuality and gender
The relationship between sexuality and gender is politically and theoretically contentious. Until now, it is hard to identify a clear distinction or link between the two. Nevertheless, gender influences one’s sexuality (Prince 78-80). In the contemporary world, gender standards play a significant role in controlling one’s sexuality.
Gender dictates on how men and women are required to carry themselves in public. Men are expected to be macho, aggressive, controlling, and dominant. On the other hand, women are required to be submissive, honest, and caring (Prince 81-84). Titanic successfully links sexuality and gender.
The film shows how gender has influenced the different behaviors exhibited by the various characters. Sexual orientation pushes Coleman into assuming the role of a house cleaner in the Titanic.
Male dominance in society forces women to assume roles aimed at making men comfortable and happy. The fact that Coleman is a woman makes her submissive and charming. These qualities are attractive to men, thus she secures a house cleaner’s job.
The Titanic film portrays gender and sexuality as a permanent quality of identity. The different characters use gender and sexuality to identify with varied activities throughout the film. For instance, Coleman identifies with the house cleaner’s job due to her gender and sexual orientation.
For a long time, the role of house keeping has been linked to women. On the other hand, Harry uses his gender as the source of identity. The fact that he is a man gives him the courage to try to convince Georgiana to love him even after meeting her for the first time.
Male gaze in the media industry refers to a situation where the media advertently sexualizes female characters, and focuses on them from a male perspective. In other words, it is a situation where media portrays female characters in a way aimed at satisfying the male greed (Calogero 21).
In Titanic, the film highlights on male gaze by portraying some female characters as attractive and charming. For instance, the film portrays Coleman as attractive and charming and thus every man in the ship yearns to see her. The way in which the film portrays Coleman leaves me fascinated.
Moreover, every man finds her attractive. In addition, the film highlights on male gaze through Dorothy. She is an attractive woman, who is fond of drinking. The film portrays her as a prostitute dressed in clothes that look attractive to men. In spite of Dorothy appearing uncouth to madam Aubart, she is attractive and this aspect compels men to like her.
Female form objectification
Male domination over women at times allows men to treat women as objects. Occasionally, men use women as objects who help them to meet their goals and have no value for women at all (Calogero 16-20). In the first episode of the Titanic miniseries, female form is not clearly objectified.
Nevertheless, there are instances where men have used women as bridges to meet their needs. Harry’s desire to have a companion pushes him into luring Georgiana into live.
The period the two spend together is not enough for Harry to claim that he loves Georgiana. Nevertheless, he needs a companion, and thus he sees Georgiana as the only person who can give him the consolation he greatly needs.
Since the medieval times, gender stereotyping has been a pertinent issue from one generation to another. Films underscore one of the many avenues that propagate gender stereotyping. Television programs and films are produced with a certain level of gender stereotyping.
For instance, in the first episode of the Titanic, the roles that the different characters assume portray gender stereotyping.
Besides the stereotyping, the film also portrays gender reversal where some characters engage in actions believed to be of the opposite gender. The film also shows how gender influences the contemporary sexual orientations as adopted by different people.
Calogero, Rachel. “A test of objectification theory: the effect of male gaze on appearance concerns in college women.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 28.1 (2004): 16-21. Print.
Dreyer, Yolanda. Hegemony and the Internalization of Homophobia caused by Heteronormativity, Pretoria: University of Pretoria, 2007. Print.
Hines, Sally. “What’s the Difference? Bringing Particularity to Queer Studies of Transgender.” Journal of Gender Studies 15.1 (2006): 49–67. Print.
Prince, Virginia. “Sex vs. Gender.” International Journal of Transgenderism 8.4 (2005): 78-84. Print.
Sandler, Kevin, and Studlar Gaylyn. Titanic: Anatomy of a Blockbuster, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1999. Print.