Special issue :Traditional Gender Roles Enacted by Men and Women in Azerbaijani Cinema

This article aims to demonstrate traditional roles and relationships depicted in Azerbaijani films in order to dismantle and address some of the alarming gender attitudes and mind-sets that continue to have a toxic effect on lives of the nation. Nowadays television, radio, and the Internet are major sources of information, and film is inevitably a very powerful form of extremely popular art. People learn from movies and media more than from any other source of information. Therefore, if we want to understand our society and its gender problems, we have to understand the images and stories that people encounter. This article analyzes scenarios with (often disparaging) portrayals of women that contribute to the under-representation of females in positions of leadership and build stereotypical expectations. Scenarios where roles are enacted by males and females showcase men in traditional masculine stereotypes while women tend to be in purely decorative portrayals or in mother roles, which is the ultimate feminine achievement in Azerbaijan. The article provides comparative analysis of widely watched “classic” movies along with modern-day motion pictures directed by young filmmakers in the attempt to bring positive changes. It is the objective of this article to present films directed in different times that distinctly demonstrate the negative impact of traditional gender roles and its molding effect.

Zumrud Jalilova

Zumrud Jalilova

Zumrud Jalilova holds a M.Sc. in Gender and International Relations from the University of Bristol. She did her internship with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN ECE) in Geneva and is a graduate of the Advanced Programme in European Law from the Riga Graduate School of Law University. In 2019, Zumrud won the Social Impact British Alumni Award from the British Council. Zumrud is currently working on a social project called Unpuzzle Gender Equality, which is an illustrative jigsaw puzzle of cities that have achieved gender equality.

1. How do the different forms of media affect the way we see, hear and perceive gender roles and how can we change it?
2. Based on the constructivist theory and in words of Richard Leppert, “images show us a world, not the world.” Do you agree that media does not represent our world, especially when it comes to gender roles and interactions but instead, “re-presents” it and largely affects our perceptions and interpretations. In case of agreeing or disagreeing, please elaborate in a critical way.
3. Sandra Bern (1981, 1983) argues that because gender is a powerful "schema" that orders the cognitive world; one must wage a constant, active battle for a child not to fall into typical gendered attitudes and behaviour. If we agree with her statement, that media does shape people’s minds, and that there is freedom of press and pop culture is full of diverse messages and visuals, what is the best way of counteracting some of the rigid ideas about gender we get from media?
4. Do you think that with more local adverts and movies representing men in homemaking, cooking, and child care images of the sexes will perpetuate more realistic, less stereotypical, and less limiting perceptions? And what is the best approach to shifting the mindset of the nation considering the above mentioned continuous trends?'

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