Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Women, Gender, Children, Inequality, Social Issues, Men, Media, Family

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/10/05

Argumentative Essay

There have been debates concerning gender inequality in the contemporary society. These debates have been pioneered by majorly gender rights activists driven by the desire to create equality between men and women (UNDP). However, it is evident that similar issues in gender equality have existed from as early as the 1900’s. Researchers have come up with various principles and theories geared towards providing explanation on the continuous existence of gender inequality despite the efforts made to eliminate it (UNDP).
One of the principles that have been recently discussed is the “Smurfette Principle”, which describes scenarios that are propagating gender inequality in the society. The smurfette principle is a term that was coined by Pollitt Katha in an article she wrote in the New York Times in 1991. Pollitt Katha describes the Smurfette principle as a scenario where television series are characterized by several male actors and only a single female actor who is usually given a ‘back seat role’. She argues that this is one of the channels existing within the current media that has propagated gender inequality to an extent that child from as young as ten years could note (Pollitt, 1994). In her writing, she describes how some female children have undergone emotional breakdown after realizing that their favorite TV series actors are male. This discussion will attempt to support Katha’s argument, providing various scenarios to indicate that her argument is valid.


The concept of gender inequality is based on the existence of unequal perception or treatment among men and women. Research indicates that the existence of gender inequality stems from socially constructed roles and responsibilities between males and females. There are certain factors that have been considered the propagators of gender inequality in the contemporary society (UNDP). The media is one of them as discussed by Katha Pollitt in her writing about smurfette principle. Apart from the social stereotypes that are usually directed towards one gender dimension in the society, Katha believes that the manner through, which the media portrays men and women plays a major role in facilitating inequalities between men and women. She describes how men are usually portrayed as heroes in the media while women are exhibited as minor subjects of love and romance. She believes that this situation has a major impact on the younger generation (Pollitt, 1994). Taking into consideration one of the current TV series Hawaii Five O, the smurfette’s principle is evident from the first episode of the movie to the last: It describes a scenario where four police personnel are making efforts to curb criminal activities in Hawaii. However, the most surprising issue with these series is that the major roles are played by three male police officers, while one female police officer is portrayed mostly performing office tasks.
Childhood development is also another social facet that has greatly impacted gender equity. Apparently, during the early years of child development, many parents usually strive to different gender roles among their children. The girl child is usually taught how to undertake roles associated with women while the male child is trained to behave like a man. In most cases, parents tend to associate their children with actions or behaviors perceived to be fir for their genders for instance: A male child is provided with a toy car while a girl child given a baby doll. This is another issue that has propagated gender inequality in the contemporary society by impacting child development.
Apart from Katha, other stakeholders such as the United Nations Development Program, has attributed gender inequality as a major barrier to social and economic development. In an article published by the UNDP, it is indicated that women and girls have achieved major developments since the early 90’s, but have not attained a complete gender equity scenario. Katha’s smurfette principle has been regarded as one of these reasons. Additionally the UNDP report indicates that inequality among men and women leading to discrimination among women has not only been evident in the media but also in allocation of resources for instance: Health services provision, political representation, labor market as well as in education. This is an indication that gender inequality is still a current social problem.

Katha attributes social phenomena such as media and child development as the major factors of gender inequality. However, certain natural or biological conditions can also be attributed to the gender differences. One of these differences is the fact that biologically men and women are different in that; in parenting women breastfeed children, a scenario that usually leads to a natural attachment between the child and the mother. In this case, it is normal that a child will have more attachment to the mother as compared to the dad. On the other hand, women tend to make decisions through emotions in comparison to males. In this case, a woman’s tendency to care for the child is emotionally driven thus women will have more emotional attachment to the child as compared to men. Therefore, it is normal that a woman will tend to many needs of the child as compared to men.


Human Development Reports. (n.d.). Retrieved January 21, 2015, from http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/gender-inequality-index-gii
Hawaii Five-O [Motion picture on DVD]. (2012). Paramount.
Pollitt, K. (1994). Reasonable creatures: Essays on women and feminism. New York: A. Knopf

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