Cultural hegemony is an idea created by Marxism philosophy. It is the idea that there is a dominant culture that influences and has power over the culture of society. When referencing the ideas of cultural hegemony with the show Game of Thrones we have to look at the idea of a dominant group having president over another group. Cultural hegemony is represent in the show through gender and culture.




            It is clear when watching the game of thrones that there is a dominant race, that race being white. All major characters in the show are white and any ethnic characters are slaves, barbarians, whores, cheats, and pirates. My first outrage with this is why all of the powerful characters are white. Is this an example of white privilege?

The idea of this show is that many people believe that they have the right to the iron throne and they battle for it. However why are none of the warriors ethnic? The first show of ethnicity in the show is with the Dothraki culture. The Dothraki are a powerful native clan. Now this could be considered a plus for ethnic cultures because they have a non-white group showing power. However this power does not come from the idea of royalty, riches, or anything else you many descried as power. This power comes from the idea of fear, people fear the Dothraki because they rule with the ideals of rape and murder. They are savage barbarians who believe in men being the dominant gender and women are only useful for sex. This gives the general public the idea that any ethnic group can only represent a barbaric mindset. The show continues to have little roles for ethnic characters.

Three black characters were introduced into the show in the 3rd season two were slaves and one was a high rich noble. Many believed that the black character as a noble would be a great stepping-stone to have successful ethnic character. However that was not the case. The black noble was discovered to be considered an evil character wanting to force Daenerys into marriage and taking over the population with force. The noble now tainted with the idea of being an evil character was killed. I find it surprising that any sort of chance an ethnic non-white character has of gaining a major role is tainted. I first believed that this was a problem with the author of the novel however; he came out with a statement saying that “It is true that we’ve lost several black characters who appear in the novels” (Martin). This brings up the question, is it the media that surprises ethnic characters? If so why? Game of Thrones is just one example of a show that has dominant white characters. The problem is why can there not be a show with dominate ethnic characters?

This Cultural hegemony is not only represented with race and culture but also with gender.

 Many people praise the show for having Daenerys Targaryen as a dominant female character. She is a role model for many women being that she is independent, strong, and determined. Her goal is to revenge her father’s death and gain what is rightfully hers, the iron throne. However, I disagree strongly with the majority’s idea. Before this dominant female character was created she was first very submissive. Daenerys was being used as a pawn to gain an army. Her brother sold her to the Dothraki for the use of marriage. During that period there were many scenes of her being forced to have sex with her husband and also scenes of her nude. During these episodes it is clear that the dominant culture is male. Daenerys was sold by a male (her brother) to a male (Dothraki leader) in order to please a male (have sex). Once her husband died Daenerys’ independent female role came through she ousted her brother and took control of the Dothraki to help her complete her goal. My outrage with the show is that in order for her dominant character to form she has to be represented as submissive first. She has to be raped, sold, and have her breasts displayed on the screen. However, when we discuss the male characters in the show none are put through this. Why can’t we have a dominant female character from the beginning? Why does she have to be nude? This problem is not only with the character Daenerys but with most woman in the show. The majority of female characters in the show have been nude at some point and not only nude but in a whore house working for men.  Media seems to portray females as sexual beings and prizes and that is wrong, again Game of Thrones is just one example and in order to change we need to address this issues with all shows.



Blurred Lines: Exposure of Nudity and Emphasized Femininity

Cultural Hegemony refers to an influence or a power that gives dominance to a specific group of people or country who manipulates the culture of the society. In this case, cultural hegemony would refer to a dominant and influential group on others. The media that I want to concentrate on is Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, a hit song on Billboard Hot 100 that received harsh criticisms after the music video hovered around due to its hints of male dominance and sexual objectification of women, which I have identified from its lyrics and music video.



Click to view: Unrated Version / Official Music Video

Blurred Lines’ music video by Robin Thicke includes a lot of sexual representations and nudity of women. I reviewed both unrated and the official music video, for I thought it was important to look at both music videos because it was both published on YouTube, which means that it was already exposed to the audience. In this technology advanced generation where pornography is easily accessible to teenagers and even children, it is highly likely that their audience will include viewers that are under the age of eighteen. Thus, it is important to reassure what is being presented and perceived by the audience.

 The unrated version of the music video includes a number of women dancing in nude tone thongs. The womens’ breasts are fully shown and the ‘nude’ tone thong gives an effect that implies nakedness to the audience. I think it is important to look at the silky spotless and hairless body that are being presented here. In media, it is interesting to question that, even if they had not worn their thongs, would they have shown the pubic hair on women’s body? Or would they wax it? I would go with the latter choice because the majority of our society thinks that body hair could give a manly and unsanitary image of a person, specifically for a woman. The publicity of pubic hair or body hair in general was mentioned in the second posting of our blogs. According to Gothamist, American Apparel Mannequins are presenting pubic hair to the whole public. It is depressing to see that this image is seen as abnormal. And so, if this was the case in this music video, I would highly raise a hypothesis that to give a sense of emphasized femininity, their pubic hair would be waxed. Also, due to the music video’s excessive nudity, it is easily observable that women are being extremely objectified and sexualized. It also displays male dominance over women because the men, fully dressed in suits, are in the position of choosing the naked, ‘attractive’ women, who seem to be putting much effort to sexually seduce the men in the video. Furthermore, the only yet a major difference that is observable between the unrated and the official video is the added piece clothing of the women in the official music video. Why are men dressed in suits when women are barely wearing any clothes? It is important to question if this is an acceptable imagery to be shown to the audience of various age groups and gender, because it leads to a significant misconception about gender roles and the superiority of a specific gender to another.

Women who were chosen to cast in this music video are highly attractive according to the society’s beauty standards. They are beautiful bright skin toned, tall, have a perfect body shape and are overall very attractive. However, one thing to notice is that women in the music video are trying to appeal to the men, which as mentioned in lecture, is described to be the emphasized femininity. Emphasized femininity is a term that refers to form of idea and femininity that women must comply with the needs and desires of men. Therefore, in order to meet the needs and desires of men, women are being sexualized. Being in the position that emphasized feminism must be diminished for there is no need for women to live their lives for the men’s standards of beauty and satisfaction, I contend that this image portrayed in the video is highly misguiding. Emphasized femininity itself is highly rooted to male dominance, and since the audience for this music video varies in age, this music video is not acceptable to be presented, especially to audiences in the younger age group.

            In conclusion, various portrayals of men and women in the media are socially constructing the gender roles, as well as the standards of how women should act and look like in front of men. In the beauty aspect, this is why TV programs like the Swan is appearing to change the women’s faces in order to fit into today’s society. Also, due to the frequent exposure in the media in regards to the ideal body shape of women, many women become sensitive to how they look and strive to lose weight in order to be considered attractive.  As mentioned in lecture, Killing Us Softly portrays a good image of how we are blind to the process of women being sexualized in media. It is despondent to see that these sexualized, unreal imagery of women is being standardized by the society. Moreover, Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines arises a major issue of such illustrations, where women are being chosen rather than being able to choose. In this process, women are being sexualized with bare minimum clothing. This is an aspect of cultural hegemony since the sense of male dominance and the sexualisation of women is strongly appealed in the music video.

Carlson, Jen. “Photo: American Apparel Mannequins Now Sporting Full Bush.”Gothamist. Gothamist, 26 Jan. 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.

Thicke, Robin. “Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines Ft. T.I., Pharrell.” YouTube. YouTube, 20 Mar. 2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.

Thicke, Robin. “Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines (Unrated Version) Ft. T.I., Pharrell.”YouTube. YouTube, 28 Mar. 2013. Web. 19 Apr. 2014

Orange May Be The New Black, But White Is Still The Dominant Race

          The Netflix phenomenon Orange is the New Black has been the topic on every North America’s mind since the release of its first season in July 2013. With the second season coming to Netflix this June I decided to watch this series for a second time, but this time I made the decision to analyze it as I searched for undertones of cultural hegemony. Originally based on a book written by Piper Kerman depicting her experiences in a women’s prison, the television show takes this inspiration and creates a hyperbole in order to achieve laughs. While this show does a fantastic job in representing many races and ethnicities, as well as housing one of televisions few representations of a transsexual woman, the show contains major culturally hegemonic issues which all seem to favour the white community.  This trend is one that we have seen for centuries, as white has been viewed as the dominant race or cultural form, but Orange is the New Black does a relatively good job of hiding this theme unless you are directly searching for it.




            Cultural hegemony can be described as the predominant influence over other groups. Although some believe that all people are equal and society has achieved equality, there is still a person or group that has power or influence over other people or groups. When watching Orange is the New Black, I saw this theme benefiting the white population. This hegemony is clear within the first 20 minutes of the first episode. Firstly, it seemed as if almost all of those who had special privileges or were trusted to do important jobs in the prison were white. There is the white inmate, Morello, who is trusted to drive new prisoners into the prison following their strip search. The woman who is in charge of cooking the food for the entire prison is another white woman named Red, with all white inmates helping her. The inmate who is in charge of the chapel is yet another white woman named Tiffany Doggett. Jones is a white inmate who is allowed to teach her own yoga classes. I find it interesting that even when incarcerated, we can see this theme of cultural hegemony benefitting white inmates. The prison seems to be split into racial groups, with each race sitting together during meals and staying together during their free time. When questioning why this was, one reason that I came up with was that black inmates understand the struggles of other black inmates, just as do Latinos and Latinos, and white inmates with white inmates. Because the prison system does not involve equality within incarceration, those of similar races may stick together because they feel that they cannot identify with those from any other racial group. Fights that are shown in the show usually occur between women of different races, possibly because they don’t feel a connection to each other.

Along with the inmates having dominance, I noticed that the majority of the prison guards are white. This display of supremacy is more apparent than that of the inmates as the guards clearly exhibit theirs. The guards use degrading names towards the inmates, along with treating them like animals instead of people. Guards have been accused of rape, with a certain guard commonly making sexual remarks. This display of not only cultural hegemony, but also patriarchy is degrading and offensive to all inmates, including those who are white. Making the women feel like they are no longer people, the guards have clear control over them.

            Another example of cultural hegemony within this show, and also real prisons is the Prison Industrial Complex refers to the practice of private investment in mass incarceration (Tolmie, 2014). The PIC aids in securing the authority of those whose power is based on economic, racial, and even structural privileges. Those who benefit from this complex are primarily white, American people who are wealthy. The PIC is directly related to cultural hegemony in prisons, as it is clear that this hegemony is not only evident in prisons, but also for those outside operating and investing in them. By dehumanizing people, dominant groups can gain more superiority and power. An example of the PIC in this television show is seen through those who run the prison. The executive assistant to the warden is a white woman who dresses well and clearly flaunts her wealth and authority. In the second episode, she tells the new inmates during their orientation that she is available to talk anytime about anything relating to their needs as women. When an inmate tries to ask her a question, she states that she is only there as a formality that day. This woman’s dominance and ability to profit off of the incarceration of these women is even more dehumanizing to the inmates.

            Although I didn’t notice it very much the first time that I watched this series, the cultural hegemony is very clear in Orange is the New Black. The superiority and privilege of inmates who are white allow them to maintain jobs within the prison that women who are of other races are not allowed to do. The guards are also predominantly white, reinforcing this hegemony. The Prison Industrial Complex is seen in this show through those who run the prison, again being predominantly white, and displaying the wealth that they have made through the incarceration of these women. These displays of privilege is disappointing for viewers to see, as it shows that even when people are taken out of society and put into a prison, the inequalities that they face on the street are still apparent within the stone walls and barbed wire fences.


Herzing, Rachel. “What is the Prison Industrial Complex?.” Defending Justice. N.p., 2005. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. <;.

“I Wasn’t Ready.” Orange is the New Black. Netflix. 11 May 2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.

“Tit Punch.” Orange is the New Black. Netflix. 11 May 2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.

Tolmie, Jamie. “Prisons, Intersection of Race, Class and.” Queen’s University. Kingston. 28 Jan. 2014. Lecture.

“Tinker Bell” and Our Sexualized Culture

Cultural hegemony refers to the domination that emerges in societies with a diversity of cultures. The dominant culture, or ruling class, has the power to influence the culture of that society, including it’s values, morals, and norms, to create an image for the society on an international stage.  The ruling class essentially decides the dominant ideology of the society to justify their actions within the social, economic, and political structures that they have designed.  Accepting these structures makes it beneficial for everyone because power and order is agreed on, rather than certain social constructs that only benefit the ruling class.  That being said, cultural hegemony is engrained in societies all around the world. Cultural hegemony is displayed and exercised on many different levels, ranging from political structures to mass media.  However, this hegemonic approach to structuring society has its implications. While it is appealing in terms of creating a unified cultural identity, cultural hegemony is a key factor in the emergence of tension, within cultures and between them on a global scale.

Before analyzing its negatives, it is important to understand the positive impact of cultural hegemony.  Cultural hegemony demonstrates the importance of understanding privilege and the responsibilities that are required to take on in this dominant role.  It teaches the ruling class to consider it’s positionality.  Positionality refers to soft reflexive knowledge that individuals must exercise to understand the power they hold in a hierarchical society in order to keep it unified, enabling levels on the hierarchical latter to overlap in everyday courses of action.  It is a process whereby individuals learn to be self aware about their own assumptions when interacting with other cultures – by watching yourself you are better at watching others.  It allows people to become aware of their position within power relations and social hierarchies. Acknowledging certain privileges that are especially important to reflect on include gender and race.  Positionality becomes very important when cultures are interacting on an international level.

In most societies, the idea of cultural hegemony and gender, for instance, refers to a patriarchal system, where males dominate and hold power.   Tension emerges within these societies for two reasons: women battle for agency and men do not acknowledge their positionality.  This dynamic then leaks into larger-scale relationships across the globe.  Tension and hate almost become universal identities for many cultures because much of our identity is based on how others perceive us.  Each society is of course extremely complex with many intersecting layers of social life, but for some reason cultures tend to identity other cultures by their misfortune, and in this case, certain cultures are known for their oppression of woman.  That being said, man and woman both must understand their positionality in relation to each other.  If the relationship is unhealthy where both genders fail to acknowledge their positionality, this behaviour becomes the culture’s hegemonic response to the kinds of relationships they will have with other ones across the globe.  Cultures are very unique, in terms of how gender and race is perceived, and therefore positionality helps to acknowledge these differences without sacrificing other’s cultural identity as well as your own.  It is the accepting nature of positionality that has the ability to steer cultures away from tension by avoiding the potential for cultural hegemony to encourage nations to exert their power over.  The same goes for race.  Race plays a big role in creating an image for the culture because certain societies tend to form their cultural beliefs in line with their religious commitment and practices.  A culture defined by race has had historical consequences, where one culture limits another’s multi-layered identity by categorizing it by race and using power to justify hatred toward that race.  To make matters worse, the mass media then comes into play using stereotypes that reinforce hatred and justify hate crime towards cultures grouped by race.  In the media, gender and race are subjected in ways that encourage the negative effects of cultural hegemony.  An excellent example of gender intersecting with cultural hegemony is displayed in Disney, specifically as seen in the latest movie, “Tinker Bell”, directed by Bradley Ramond.

In the film, the main character Tinker Bell, is extremely sexualized.  She starts off clothed in a robe that covers most of body, presenting herself in a decent way.  As the story goes on and Tinker Bell is undergoing character development, her robe is cut into a skimpy dress.  She is a skinny, blonde fairy, with unnatural curvy hips and visible cleavage, and only then do the male characters in the movie notice her and attracted to her.  The term sexual orientation refers to being romantically or sexually attracted to people of a specific gender.  Our sexual orientation and our gender identity are separate, distinct parts of our overall identity, and Tinker Bell quickly becomes known for her sexual appeal from a male perspective. This dynamic between gender roles causes serious problems.  Gender roles are a set of rules, activities, expectations and behaviors assigned to females and males by society.  Our culture recognizes two basic gender roles: masculine (having the qualities attributed to males) and feminine (having the qualities attributed to females).   Our identities become apparent when our actions as they reflect either masculine or feminine features.  That being said, gender expression then refers to the ways in which people externally communicate their gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, haircut, voice, and other forms of presentation.  Gender expression also works the other way as people assign gender to others based on their appearance, mannerisms, and other gendered characteristics.  From analyzing Tinker Bell’s character transformation, the movie is demonstrating that in order to fit into society individuals must conform to standards.  Tinker Bell was an outcast however once she over-sexualized herself and conformed to the standards of a “female”, the male characters identified her as “sexy” and only then was she able to integrate successfully into this new culture.  What does this say about gender roles?  What does this say about young children developing a sense of who they are within society as a whole?  Does identity become a matter of conformity?

The movie and many other Disney movies demonstrate how gender is socialized.  Judith Butler explains that gender is what we do.  In the movie, there is a diversity of male characteristics, but the females, especially the main characters, are given one or two characteristics, usually in body shape and sexual appeal.    The cultural hegemony is expressed in this movie in terms of how societies view woman, and that what makes a “woman” is about appearance.  Males in the movie are defined by the culture they are in by their work and positions of power.   Tinker Bell has entered the new culture and in order to fit within the conventions and the societies hegemonic ideals, Tinker Bell becomes sexualized.  As Butler explained, there is a panic, fear, and sense of anxiety around gender norms.  What would have happened if Tinker Bell did not, as the culture would have described it, “fulfill her potential” as a female member of the society?  The socialized and sexualized gendering of females becomes an issue when individuals choose to resist the cultural norms and choose to identify themselves beyond the constructed and designated role that they believe does not identify them correctly.  Tension emerges when cultures deal with resistance poorly.  When the subsequent behaviour of dealing with this tension and resistance, such as oppression of woman and racism, emerges it then factors into the social structure and cultural hegemony as a way to justify exerting power over certain groupings in order for the ruling-class to remain on top.  Resistance is seen as a threat to the system and therefore stereotypes are used in the media, for example Disney, to reinforce hierarchy and other longstanding social structures like patriarchy and colonialism, for example.

It is clear how gender and media intersect in this movie.  The media is so powerful because it promotes gender socialization by showing its audience what is normal in a certain culture.  Disney is designed to appeal to a young audience and the movie “Tinker Bell” has demonstrated how society can attempt at masking stereotypes and cultural hegemony by “sugar coating” it using fairies and cartoons.  Media is a universal phenomenon that has mastered its reliance on certain images to convey a message.  Without the media, can we imagine a world without hatred and oppression?  If you think about it, how else would stories of colonialism, patriarchy, and other forms of socialized structures be passed on through generations?  The media is an extension of the past, and although cultures today are working towards a more ethical cultural hegemonic identity, as long as the media leaks itself into our lives, images of the past with forever linger in the midst of all the progress.

Is Beauty Always White?

Imagine the first time your heart was broken, the pain and anguish you felt when the love of your life left you. Alone you sat thinking, racking your brain around all the things that could have gone wrong, struggling to find a reason, a reason why he or she left you. You needed a reason because without one you were lost, confused, and hopeless. When out of nowhere a reason pops up and it was not your personality, hair colour, lack of humor, or even your crazy family driving him or her away, but it was the colour of your skin. The pigment forced on you at birth, the pigment that represents your genes and culture, the pigment that determines your self-worth. All that confusion and hopelessness you were feeling before is now replaced by hatred, hatred for the colour of your skin and dreams that you could change it. You need to change it to win him or her back, but what can you do? It’s impossible.  When BAM out pops a magical cream that can change your skin colour, making it lighter and “more attractive”. A cream that can single handedly wash away all of your genes and culture showcased by your skin colour and make a brand new ‘better’ you.

Ridiculous right? Well that is not what the advertising agency of Ponds cream thought when they were creating a commercial (Ponds advertisement). They believed that the fictional scenario I described to you earlier was the perfect way to manipulate and convince viewers that Ponds Cream is desirable. In the ad there is what appears to be a South Asian couple breaking up in an airport, the male is clearly leaving the female and not the other way around.  The ad then goes forward into the future by 3 years when the female from earlier sees her old boyfriend in a magazine with his new girlfriend (who is white). Later in the advertisement the male and female form earlier pass each other on the street, with the males new love on his arm. The South Asian female looks longingly at the couple as they pass. We then see the South Asian female looking at a television screen in a window that is displaying the product, and the tag line is said “new ponds white beauty gives you a radiant pinkish white glow, pale white or pinkish white, ponds, white beauty” (Ponds Commercial). After seeing that ad the South Asian women grabs the necklace that was given to her by her Ex-boyfriend and has a look of determination in her eyes. It is implied that with the knowledge of this new cream, that can help to make her skin whiter she can get he loved one back. The ad ends with “to be continued…” (Ponds Commercial), this is because this commercial is not that only to the story, in fact the company made a whole story using this idea. Without getting into to much detail, the ads all put together make a love story about how the South Asian woman used the Ponds cream to make her skin white and she was able to win her boyfriend back.

Here are all of the ads:


I have many problems with this advertisement, the main one being how openly racist it is. Of course the ad never clearly states that the only way to be beautiful is if you are white, however the implication is there and visible. It is clear when looking at the first commercial and comparing it to the last, the South Asian woman is a lot lighter and almost white when she wins back her old boyfriend. The message given to viewers is that the only way to be beautiful is if you become white and if you do not then you will lose your man and he will go to a woman that is lighter. What kind of message are we sending to society? Especially when children can access televisions so easily. Simple advertisements like these are going to be the cause of our population taking many steps back and becoming racist again. The reason for that is because children can access the media much easier nowadays, now that the Internet is available. The problem with this is that although some adults can see the problems with these ads, children cannot and they are learning from them.

This is evident in the studies done by Anderson Cooper and Bridgit Vanhoult called Black or White colour chart and Black doll vs. White doll. The first study is done by having two identical dolls beside each other the one difference between them is that one is black and one is white. They gather kids of a wide variety of culture and ethnic groups (black, white, Mexican, etc.) and ask them a series of questions.

1)   Which doll is the black doll?

2)   Which doll is the white doll?

3)   Which doll is the pretty doll? Why?

4)   Which doll is the nice doll? Why?

5)   Which doll is the bad doll? Why?

6)   Which doll do you like to play with? Why?

7)   Which doll looks most like you?


We as a society would like to believe that the answer for questions 2-6 would be neither they are both the same. However this study showed that that was not the case. The majority of children when asked which doll was bad and ugly would reply that the black doll was and the reason for that was plane and simple “because it’s black” (Black doll vs. White doll). That was even the majority answer when black children were asked about the dolls. I blame the media for this. The media constantly portrays beauty and niceness with white people in books, movies, tv shows, and advertisements, because of this they have put a stigma on races that are not white and that stigma is not good. There was also a shocking percentage of kids who preferred the white doll to the black, “15 out of 21 children chose the white doll over the black” (Vanhoult). This is very alarming because this could be a representation of picking significant others in the future based off of their skin colour.

Some argued that maybe it was just this study that showed this outcome, so CNN and Anderson Cooper came up with another test. This study again was with a mixture of different races and culture but instead of dolls they used a sheet of paper showing the different colours of race, starting at one end with black and ending with white. The questions they asked were:

1)   What skin colour do you want? Why?

2)   What colours do adults not like? Why?

3)   What colour do adults like? Why?

4)   What colour do you look like?

5)   Which is the ugly child?

6)   Which is the smart child?

7)   What is the good child?

8)   What is the bad child?


Some of the answers gathered from the study were:

“I just don’t like the way brown looks because brown looks nasty for some reason

She’s ugly because she’s a lot darker

She’s bad because she’s black black

He’s dumb because he has dark brown skin

He’s the mean child because he’s brown” (CNN)


The clear racism is not what breaks my heart in this study, what breaks my heart is the look on the children of colours face’s when they are asked at the end which doll or which picture looks most like them. The sadness that shows on their face when they realize that all the stereotypes they just placed upon the doll (being dumb, ugly, not wanted, etc.) are what stereotypes are on themselves.

You can watch the studies here:


This study alone shows the impact advertisements like Ponds cream makes on children in todays society and if we do not put an end to them and try to show children that beauty, intelligence, and worth fullness are not dependent on ones skin colour. Then society will spiral back into what it was like before, when racism was so open and accepted.