Semiotics – What are meanings attached to visual codes of gender.



Many of today’s signs for genders are split up into different categories. Society itself has made up this division . For instance hair length, colour/style of clothing, physical build and height. All of which is a representation into different symbols from the media. Many of which change as time progresses. One example would be the change of pink from being a boys colour in the 19th century to the transition to a girl’s colour to today’s time. In the ‘1960’s, with it’s anti-feminist, anti fashioned message’.(Maglaty, 2011) Unisex then became in fashion, with pink removed from the masculine section. Another reason for transitioned was the fact that due to boom of unisex clothing it meant  baby’s from the previous generation were passing on their clothes to the next. Therefore companies pushed for a different rhetoric. This was female pink colours.

This colour perception however is just social construction as there isn’t hard proof evidence that we are attached to these visual codes .For instance ‘in 2007, Research conducted at Newcastle University asked adults for their favourite colour. The colour which come out top, for both men and women was red and blue’ (BBC future, 2014). On the contrary you could still argue that the perception for boys wearing pink would be acceptable in comparison to a girl wearing blue.


However these visual codes have not only just stemmed from the colours of clothes.  Society has manipulated us to believe in certain ways according to our gender. For instance kids from a young age are put into two different sections of toys. With the boys encouraged to play with action man toys and girls encouraged to play with the Barbie dolls. This problem has led to boys and women getting bad influences from visual codes based on their gender. With many visual codes leading women to be influenced that women have be skinny. Research found Girls “aged five to six were more dissatisfied with their shape and wanted more extreme thinness after seeing Barbie doll images than after seeing other pictures”(Hains 2014). This has led to constant added pressure particular on young females to be this certain way even though it is impossible to achieve for most. This pressure is the same is with boys as it could be said that boys are aspired to be strong and headstrong with a women by their side rather than lettign out their gentle feminine side.


BBC News Future (2014) University of Newcastle Evidence on male and female colours.At: (Accessed on 8/05/16)

 Maglaty, J. (2011) When Did Girls start wearing pink. At: (Accessed on 8/05/16)

Hains, R. Reason to Not buy barbie dolls. At Developmental Psychology (Accessed on 7/05/16)


Fairytale – In what ways might Propp’s structural analysis be helpful when analysing stories?

Vladimir Propp’s theory was the constant repeating plot devices which appeared in Russian Folk tales however this theory can also be applied to Western Folk-tales as well.  With the structure stemming into classic folk-tales like sleep Beauty and Cinderella. However also ‘in more modern works like labyrinth, the lord of the rings,Star Wars and Pan’s Labyrinth.’ – (Propp’s Folk-tales, 2015).


Propp’s theory is broken down into many different structures relating to the story. One being the uses of characters in the story. In terms of characters Props usually divides the characters into key-roles which also occur in many of the stories today. This structure of narrative in most cases starts with the opening in which the characters are most likely in some form of neutral setting. Although in some cases such as Cinderella we already are presented with an obstacle. For instance in the story Cinderella, we already have the villain’s being the ugly step daughters. As they stop her from going to the ball.


As the story of Cinderella goes on she is met by her fairy godmother. This is the donor. As she presents Cinderella with the Abilities to go to the ball. This is also accompanied by the Helpers ( the mouse’s) who aids Cinderella. This leads onto the saving of the prince which in this case is a role reversal of the cliche, damsel in distress.


This structure however is not just used in fairy tales. We can also compare this structure to most films nowadays. For instance Avatar is a story which also opens up like Cinderella in which he is at a disadvantage as his brother is successful. This all changes when dispatcher needs Jake’s help to become an Avatar, this is the dispatcher. He then meets Grace who at first is unimpressed with Jake’s abilities however eventually acts as the Donor as she gives the knowledge  to become part of the indigenous people. In this involved with the indigenous people he meets Neytiri the princess who Jake falls in love with. However the conflict happens when Colonel Miles the Villain in this movie tries to fulfill his mission.


Propp’s use of strategy is very good at breaking down stories into clear and easy plots. However in terms of author’s basing their stories around his theory I don’t think happens very often. With JK Rowling for instance  basing her characters around a story instead. In addition to that there have been many of other theories for films for instance which also do the same thing  in breaking down the story.

(see fig. 1.)

For instance Syd field uses a similar structure but in this case for films. This theory is mainly used for the Hollywood movies. In which they use Goal-Oriented methods in their film.


 Figure 1. Syd Field Structure (n.d) (Accessed 1/05/16)



Propp’s function of Folk-tales, (2015) At (Accessed 1/05/16)