With each passing year of the Super Bowl, American society never fails to identify new controversies based on questionable depictions of women. Although the days of using a woman’s body to sell various fast food items may almost be behind us, one of this year’s ads in particular upheld the trend of using demeaning representations of women as a selling point. Not only does this ad for the videogame World of Tanks show a stereotypical, Real-Housewives-esque depiction of motherhood, but it includes imagery of masculine superiority through force and violence. This dated portrayal of masculinity and femininity boil down the complexities of gender identity to create a societal binary that depicts women as the inferior counterpart to men.
On page 88 of the Keywords for Children’s Literature essay entitled “Gender,” author Erica Hately notes how girls are often presented as domestic mothers-in-training that restrict the courageousness of men. This phenomenon is exemplified in the above commercial as well as in Laura Ingles Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie. First of all, the videogame advertisement uses gender stereotypes to define femininity in terms of emotion, fashion, and domesticity, while masculinity is defined by aggression and physical dominance. No matter its intention, this commercial implies that masculinity can bulldoze over women at its leisure, displaying messages of male authority. Second of all, the scene in Little House on the Prairie where Laura’s mother scolds her for yelling like a cowboy uses similar gender stereotypes. Not only is a cowboy being categorized as a masculine identity, but Laura’s personality is flattened, as her mother reminds her that “It [is] not ladylike to yell like that” (166-167). Both of these texts give implications for gender-based expectations of how one should act based on societally constructed binaries. Despite the temporal and stylistic differences in these two examples, they represent timeless stereotypes while suggesting the role that motherhood plays in policing gender. What were once societal pressures to act ladylike in Little House on the Prairie, are now stereotypical, entertainment-based interpretations of motherhood that have become normalized. No matter the medium, society is constantly reminded of a gender binary that distorts images of womanhood to flattened, domestic inferiors to men.