Magazine Article Analysis The purpose of this project is to have students explore media gender socialization through analyzing a magazine article that sends messages about gender. This assignment requires you to analyze a magazine article that gives descriptive or prescriptive information about men and/or women. The article can be descriptive or prescriptive. A descriptive article explains what men and/or women are like, e.g., “Men are like power tools, women are like doilies,” “Why men can’t be faithful to one woman.” Prescriptive articles give gender-specific advice, e.g.,
“How to meet and marry a man in 30 days,” “Ten pick-up lines that are guaranteed to drive women crazy.” The text can focus on one sex or on how the two sexes are different. In the first part of the paper you will describe the article and its main argument. In the second part of the paper you will analyze the paper from a social constructionist
perspective, i.e., you will look at how the text constructs the meanings of men and/or women. Your analysis should address the following four questions:
1. What is the basis for the text’s claims about men and/or women, e.g., biology, socialization, personal experience of the author, the spiritual realm. These bases should be critiqued from a social constructionist perspective, which argues that gender differences between men and women are based on meanings that people give them. (It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a social constructionist; play the role of one for the purpose of this assignment.)
2. Does the argument of the text support traditional constructions of what it means to be a man and/or woman or does it support alternative constructions? For prescriptive articles, another way of thinking about the question is: If the reader follows the advice, will they be performing a traditional gender role or an alternative one?
3. What are the possible consequences for the text’s readers if they accept the text’s argument? For the prescriptive articles, this means: What are the possible consequences of following the text’s advice. For descriptive articles, this means: What are the possible consequences of believing men and/or women are like the article says they are?
4. What are the possible consequences for society if many people read the text and accept its argument? Focus not just on the consequences for the readers, but for people whose lives they might affect. For instance, if many men were to follow an article’s advice on how to attract women, how might it affect women? Other men?
You may choose to address other issues in your analysis, e.g., the role of race and class in the article. You may apply appropriate concepts from course readings and lecture as necessary.
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