The Parallel Between Gender Roles in Pop Culture and Society


Victoria Betancourt, Writer

Throughout all of history, men and women have never been seen as equal and this continued today. Although women now have the same rights, it doesn’t mean that the way they are viewed or represented has changed. Today’s representation in pop culture still sticks to the old as time stereotypes and rarely challenges them. This causes society to be pushed back in its advances towards the depiction of and regard for women.

This needs to change if we want any advances in the near future. 

A popular teen tv show called “The Vampire Diaries” was on the television network The CW from 2009 up to 2017. The show follows two vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon Salvatore, and their love interest, Elena Gilbert, who try to live their everyday lives in Mystic Falls despite all the issues they encounter.

A big part of the show were Gilbert’s friends, Caroline Forbes and Bonnie Bennett, along with the character’s doppelgänger, Katherine Pierce. Gilbert and Forbes are constantly portrayed as girls who need a knight in shining armor to save them, and the show does have one of the male characters come and save them from eminent doom every time. 

On the opposite side of the spectrum are Bennett and Pierce, who are shown as strong women who can fend for themselves. Obviously, that can’t be it. Bennett is seen as strong, but is facing constant turmoil and seems to never be able to breathe. The character faced such harsh storylines due to racial injustices happening behind the scenes, but that’s for another time. Meanwhile, Pierce is a constant villain throughout the 8 seasons the show endured. She has infinite power, but is seen as evil and a horrible person. Some may argue that women act like this in the everyday world, but this simply isn’t true. 

This is just a stereotype casted due to shows and movies like this that many seem to believe and still continue to since it is still constantly used in the industry.

Speaking of industries, there is an excess amount of prejudices in the music industry and many are afraid to even speak about it.

“The Man” is a song off of Taylor Swift’s Lover album that speaks about all the personal issues she has faced in her time throughout the music industry. The main issue discussed: sexism. Although society has come far, sexism still exists today. Swift has faced many battles with industry heads, male celebrities, and so much more. She uses her music to open up to the world and her fan base and show them what has been happening behind closed doors. 

Throughout the tune, the songwriter gives different examples as to what she is facing. In the song she states, “What I was wearing, If I was rude, Could all be separated from my good ideas and power moves.”

When it comes to a women’s success, she is showing that everything gets psychoanalyzed for absolutely no reason; it’s simply the sexism that has to be dealt with in the industry. 

Just to spite societal norms and make a point, Swift went to the 2019 VMAS and Teen Choice Awards wearing similar outfits. She did this to get her point across and simply prove that what she was saying is factual; that’s exactly what happened as well. Many started to point this out and question whether she did this on purpose or if she just doesn’t have the best fashion sense. This is one of many ways people can stick up to societal norms, but if people in the public eye don’t even try then there’s no point in even hoping. 

Back to fictional characters, remember the classic movie musical Grease? Everyone loves the movie and even fantasizes having a fun, simple life like that. Excuse me, what? This movie is the poster child for poor representation and bad stereotyping for women. The main character, Sandy, had to change the way she looked just to get the guy she liked. Women don’t obsess over men and aren’t addicted to them like candy.

Also, let’s not forget Rizzo’s storyline or how the T-Birds spoke about women. Rizzo’s storyline was unnecessary and shows a stereotype for women and what the T-Birds said about women was deplorable and disgusting. If they truly respected women and were chivalrous, they wouldn’t speak about them like that. 

How people glorify this movie and say they miss the good old days truly astounds me if this is what they’re going off of. Some can argue that this was just the way of the times, but the movie was made in the ’70s and not everything was completely accurate either way. In the ’70s, women already had equal rights and many were outspoken. This movie doesn’t go with what was happening during the time of its creation and is set back in representation in pop culture. 

The solution? Very simple. Have more movies like Wonder Woman, Tomb Raider, and The Hunger Games and change the way they treat women in pop culture. Breaking stereotypes is a must as well. This can be difficult due to many companies only caring about money and success, but if they truly want to change society for good they should start with representation in pop culture.