Sex Roles

, Volume 64, Issue 3–4, pp 160–172 | Cite as

Performing Gender: A Content Analysis of Gender Display in Music Videos

  • Cara Wallis
Original Article


This study investigated differences in gender display by male and female performers in music videos. Goffman’s (1976) conceptual framework of gender display was refined and expanded upon as a basis for analyzing 12 nonverbal displays associated with subordination, domination, sexuality, and aggression in music videos by an equal number of male and female lead performers. 34 music videos on U.S. cable stations MTV and MTV2 were divided into 30-second segments, resulting in 253 units that were coded for gender display. Findings revealed that significant gender displays primarily reinforced stereotypical notions of women as sexual objects, and to a lesser degree, females as subordinate and males as aggressive. Implications of music videos’ portrayal of stereotypical gender displays and their role in the construction and maintenance of the gender status quo are discussed.


Gender display Music videos Sex stereotypes 



An earlier version of this paper was presented at the National Communication Association Annual Meeting in Boston, November 2005. The author would like to thank three anonymous reviewers, Irene Frieze, and Rena Rudy for their careful readings and helpful comments on this paper. Heartfelt gratitude as well goes to Margaret McLaughlin for her guidance on several drafts of the manuscript. I also wish to thank Josh Barbour and Xi Cui for assistance with data analysis.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CommunicationTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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