The Codes of Gender

In this documentary film, Erving Goffman’s innovative analysis is applied to the contemporary commercial landscape, detailing how one of American popular culture’s most influential forms communicates an ideal standard about masculinity and femininity, the connection between gender and power, and the everyday performance of cultural norms.

In striking visual detail, this film explores Goffman’s central claim that gender ideals are the result of ritualized cultural performance, uncovering a remarkable pattern of masculine and feminine displays and poses.

The Codes of Gender goes beyond advertising as a medium that simply sells a product and the focus of biological differences or issues of ideals, to give a viewers a clear-eyed view of the two-tiered terrain of identity and power relations.

With its sustained focus on how our perceptions of what it means to be a man or a woman get reproduced and reinforced on the level of culture in our everyday lives.

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