Today’s American culture constantly tells us that women are strong, independent, and equal to men. With images of butt-kicking leading women and popular female athletes, we easily blind ourselves to the true gendered situation at hand. Gender roles are adamantly pounded into our heads, often under the pretense of being gender neutral or “breaking the mold.” As I re-watched countless movie clips, television series, and commercials and looked at popular clothing, websites, lyrics, and doors signs, I saw gender stereotypes in nearly everything. Many of the artifacts made an attempt to break those stereotypes, but failed miserably as they focused on one aspect and ignored so many others that make up the traditional gender identity of men and women. Even the seemingly non-stereotypical shirt that says “Real Men Wear Pink” doesn’t break stereotypes because it uses spotlighting and even further tries to separate femininity and masculinity by expressing that truly masculine men can do anything they want to and still be a stereotypical man. The butt-kicking women and popular female athletes are noted not for their performances, but for how they look doing it. These types of contradictions found in American culture are what hinder the ultimate eradication of gender stereotypes in society.

In addition to the contradictory artifacts mentioned above, I want to zone in on some of the other artifacts that provide evidence for this undercover divide of genders. In the popular Axe Body Spray commercials, women become very sexually aggressive with the men who wear the spray, which outwardly breaks the stereotype that men are usually sexually aggressive. However, the men still control women’s actions in these commercials by wearing the spray, promoting the overarching dominance of men.  Another artifact that supports the illusion of gender neutrality is the standard restroom sign that hangs above or near most public bathrooms. Although these signs look relatively neutral, showing no faces or body shapes of men and women, they still promote the idea that women are identified by feminine clothing. The dress on the woman is the one thing that separates the two figures. Contradictions are also found in the hierarchal structure of the business in “Lie to Me,” the sexual harassment scene in Legally Blond, the opening scene of Matilda, and numerous other of artifacts in my portfolio.

While many movies, television series, commercials, songs, etc. try to break gender stereotypes (though they usually fail), many artifacts still exist where traditional gender roles are unashamedly promoted. For instance, women are almost always the people using cleaning products in commercials, as seen in the Swiffer duster commercial. They are also portrayed as emotional and attached to relationships in movies like Wedding Crashers and television shows such as “The Hills.” Additionally, the expectation that princess crowns and big smiles represent femininity can be seen everywhere from first hand accounts at Party City to photographs of female sports teams. These obvious portrayals of stereotypes continue to dominate much of our culture.

Due to so much of the contradiction I found while assembling this portfolio, my eyes were really opened to how far Americans have to go in ridding themselves of gender stereotypes. I do not know if that will ever happen since most people’s genders largely define who they are. In my opinion, the majority of people do not want gender stereotypes to disintegrate enough to take action.  Women enjoy verbal rapport. Men enjoy “manly” activities. These things are what make a lot of people happy, so perhaps stereotypes that incorporate those things will never go away. If people really do want to eradicate traditional gender roles, however, the amount of blatant and subtle stereotypes promoted in things we see every single day are definitely keeping us from moving in that direction.