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)


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