Women have always been seen as the weaker gender, there to cater to the needs of the men, whereas males have typically fitted into the roles of breadwinner, earning money and taking care of the family in a protective, “manly” way. Women have been housewives, cleaning, cooking and taking care of children with strong maternal instincts. Women have been disregarded as the more disposable gender, fragile and “girly”, unable to possess physically strength or the ability to take care of themselves without the help of a man. However, if you compare the way that women are seen in society today, against those in the Victorian Era, you would see that they are seen as a lot more empowered, as actual beings who are able to do as much as a man, rather than objects or “arm-candy”.
This is one of the most prominent factors used in media, with women still being seen as sexual objects. An example of this is film sequences, or more specifically films such as The Wolf of Wall Street. The movie portrays a young Jordan Belfort making his way in the stock market, selling shares and slowly getting richer and richer. He is illustrated as a very powerful man, the stereotypical masculine role that a male leader would have. Along the way, the only women we see are the ones being used as sexual objects, wearing little clothes, being disregarded and rebuffed and used mainly for sex. It suggests that the roles of women have changed from housewives, but only on a slightly more positive note, to become mere sexual objects for men, but as women holding a relatively high authority and having a high worth. It denotes the idea that women have changed from fragile stay-at-home people to women who can earn their own money and do what they like with their time, yet still ultimately living to please men and get money off them, in return for their own morals.
Another example is the theoretical aspects that you would typically see in media, i.e. mise en scene. A typical scene between a man and a women would consist of the woman wearing make-up (the man would not), being well-dressed whilst wearing less clothes than the man, with the man having a wider, bigger stance, maybe positioned over her, and the woman wearing softer, more feminine colours. The man would be there to look powerful and strong, “masculine” as it were, whereas the woman would be there to be something to look pretty, of no real stature. However, whereas in older films, where the roles of men and women had a lot more contrast to them, the woman may now be a breadwinner, or at least earning money to support herself and not have to be taken care of by a man. She would typically be seen working in an office rather than babysitting at home, looking after herself. Still, she would be the main character to clean, and would still be wearing clothes that show her more as an object. She would be dressed and wearing make-up to enhance her beauty, whilst the man may be doing the same to enhance his power.
Demographical factors are a key independent variable that you would need to consider in order to determine whether or not roles of women and men reflect how gender has changed in society, due to the fact that whilst metropolitan British films may show women as being empowered, if you were to watch a movie from Swaziland, the outcome would be a lot more different, due to the fact that women aren’t even allowed to wear trousers, let alone play a part of key importance in a production.
To conclude, the changing roles of men and women reflect how gender is represented in society to such an extent that the media is documenting it every step of the way. Despite changes over the past few centuries to the portrayal of the sexes, women are still seen as the more fragile gender, there to be protected and desired y men. Whilst the majority of movies and film sequences stick to this ideology, the stereotypes do not penetrate the entire range of films on the market. Every so often you will see a movie about a single father raising his children whilst his wife works at the office, bringing in enough salary for the two of them (although this would likely be for the basis of a comedic element). You may see a movie where the woman is a builder (although she would likely be the only female in the group), or a firefighter, or an infantry soldier.