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How Women are Portrayed in the Media

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 2581 words Published: 21st Sep 2021

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Women have been seen portrayed differently from the year 1890s until present. Back in the days, women dress well, covered with clothes to show that they have class, hair done in such a way that when hats were put on, elegance will show. The way women talk, walk and act soon changed over time. For every decade since the early 1900s, women were shown as weak beings, useless in business and politics and sometimes even portrayed as a sex object or a sex icon on many occasions. Even though this case had been dragged on for a very long time, changes came soon after for the females. People’s perception towards women changed, women are no longer as weak as what the society think.

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Moving on, the growth of mass media in the recent years has made a huge impact towards the looks of women in societies. Technological-wise, new communication technologies have become so prominent to people in so many households. With the help of the new communication technologies, the perception of men towards women gradually changes and hence the result is what women are today. Before moving on to what communication technologies had done to empower women, I am going to discuss first on how women are being portrayed in the media from 1990s to present day.

Back in the days in the year of 1990 and after, the portrayal of women were still blatantly stereotypical but it has changed over time. It is the human culture that believes that the men are the stronger being while women are weak and could not achieve anything other than pleasing the men and also to clean after them. When television was invented, media started coming out with television shows to entertain people back at the comfort of their own homes. In these shows, women can be seen portrayed as sex symbols, weak housewives and sometimes as gold diggers. The media has already set a limit for the audience to perceive women in such a way that it is now very common for any human beings to think of women in a bad way.

Advertisement plays a huge role of portraying certain things as well. Even though advertisements are short and simple, it gives a huge impact and an enormous influence towards the viewers as well. For example, back in 1992, an advertisement of Calvin Klein by Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg became very controversial at that time because the mindset of the society wasn’t that open yet. In the advertisement, Kate Moss was pictures half naked and only wearing underwear produced by Calvin Klein in one of the photographs. When the advertisement was released and shown to the public, mixed reactions were received.

Many debated saying that it was inappropriate as the advertisement showed that women are only being used as an object and also to be portrayed as a sex symbol. A trend was then started showing women in skimpy clothing on advertisement as it was the “in-thing” to present women in that manner. There are groups out there that support women from getting bullied or other cases. In this case, pro-feminist cultural critics, Robert Jensen and also Sut Jhally went on to accuse mass media and also advertising for using women as an object in order to promote the goods and services being sold to the public. These women rather than being treated as human; instead they are being used as a living, breathing mannequins to show off the goods better.

I had mentioned plenty of times saying that the media has portrayed women as sex symbols/icons/objects. This can be clearly seen in rap videos by artists such as Lil Wayne, 50 Cent and other rappers in the industry. Women are dressed in almost nothing except for a tight clothing to cover their private parts and are also seen wearing stilettos. These women are only used as props in the music videos to attract viewers. It’s not only degrading for the female community but also very shameful. This is especially hard for the black women as the influence for others towards black women changes as they can be seen in these music videos dressed inappropriately and performing actions that are not suitable for minor. This sexually explicit content in the rap music videos promotes an unhealthy view towards the black women. The view of others towards these women will start to grow in a negative manner and it will also downgrade the positive trait of these women.

As I’d mentioned earlier, television plays a huge role in feeding societal beliefs to the viewers. A television doesn’t just teach the viewers on how a particular gender should act; it also shows how the other particular gender should act as expected by first gender. In the broadcast of the television shows, women are portrayed in several manners. Women are sometimes portrayed as a motherly person to little children, sometimes also portrayed as a passive and innocent woman; examples are like stay-at-home housewives in most American movies. As also mentioned earlier, women are shown as sex objects or can just simply be overlooked as an unimportant existence. Bear in mind all these examples given are from the year 1990 and forward.

As years passed, women were soon coming out as stronger and positive figure in the society. In movies produced in the recent years from year 1990 to 2012, women can be seen running in congress in politics, they are also much more involved in the corporate world, working as a CEO or in other positions. Some women started working in the police force, and women are now even allowed to join the army. After the long run of portraying women as low as garbage, media has took a turn and started to show that women are powerful in certain aspects and they are allowed to hold certain posts as well. With the use of media, women are starting to get more promotions in their career more than they have in the past when women are shunned by the society for being the weaker gender compared to men.

Since media is very influential since a long time ago, it is very important to view the representations on how the media has give to the society. Even though there has been a debate going on over the course of time on how influential the media actually is towards the society, there has been no objections on how media is an agent for socialization contest in which from the beginning of the media broadcast through television, it has been in institution in which the society has already been informed about and also has been socialized into the society.

The media does not only influence the society, it also holds the current societal values of the society and also on the society’s views. Since the media is said to be a very powerful medium, it creates a very solid and united front towards socialization. It is indeed true, according to the theory, “by endlessly presenting endless portrayals of reality in its content, mass communications provide experiences from which we collectively shape our meanings” (Weimann, p. 31). Even though it is so, as television becomes more popular among the society and it has gradually become more of a way of life, it may start to develop as an even more influential medium towards society. The important of media is evident, as I have mentioned several times earlier and also the way women are being used and portrayed should be of vital interest of the society.

Continuing on the topic on how women are being portrayed in the media, I may have mentioned this several times before but since it’s still on the same topic, the women portrayed by media are expected to be both virginal and sexual at the same time in order to attract the attention of viewers. These depictions of women trying to be virginal are seen dressed in a childlike or angelic outfit in order to define their virginal innocence. This may seem ironic as these same women who are being portrayed as virginal are being depicted in a sexual and lustful manner. A clear example of these depictions can be seen in the Victoria Secret advertisements or their collections. In one of the Victoria Secret’s collection, soft pastel colours are seen being used in their clothing line, angelic poses by the models; some were even given white fluffy wings to be worn while they were parading in their outfit, these points are non-forward but yet they are still very sexual photos photographed. These advertisements/collections/photographs are sending out a message saying “we may be innocent in your eyes, but we’re also ready to please you.”

In the media world, media has already set an impossibly high beauty standards and the result of this often leaves women in a losing position in reality. The media has already set firm a message saying that women’s worth is strongly dependent on her sexuality. Women’s sexuality is valued mainly on their beauty and also their performance. Since media has already set such a high standard women’s beauty standard, hence women will spend countless amount of money on beauty products and clothing and also countless time in order to bring themselves up to attain the same level or even higher in order to achieve as what the media has already set. Unfortunately, with the concept that I’ve mentioned above on the virginal and sexual depictions of women, women are being set to be disappointed and fail. This is solely because no women in the world can be both portrayed as innocent and sexual at the same time so women are being forced to choose either one.

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Since no women are able to be portrayed as both innocent and sexual at the same time, they would either fail at being a sexual being by choosing the choice of being virginal or they would fail at being a virginal being by choosing to be sexual. The usual side effect of such cases is very significant and also has shown a very obvious impact on women and also on women defining their sexuality.

Women are very vulnerable and have been treated unequally in every aspect of life. If there is no active participation of women in aspects of life, the world may not function as properly as it can be and it may even fail without women because women occupy half of the population on Earth. In their lives, women should make a stand and realize that they actually do have rights to not only women rights but also to working and good health care, education being provided, economic security and last but not least, the right to have political power. A wise man, Mahatma Gandhi, once said that he firmly believes that the status of women would not change merely by bringing legislations; it must be supported by change in the women’s social circumstances and situations and also man’s sexist attitude towards women.

Even though the idea of new communication technology has been lingering around the thoughts of people and has been around for centuries, the concept of this new communication technology only began to arise to the attention of people as a form of media communications in the middle of 20th century. After surfacing to the top, new media started generating and these new media include the electronic mail, voice mail and fax machines were produced and they were then used for interpersonal communication.

Seeing that media is already a powerful tool in influencing the society, the use of new communication technology can be used to as an effective tool to empower women. With the help of different types of mass media campaigns, they could pitch in to help organizing campaigns to allow society to understand their medium using traditional form of communication such as story-telling, puppetry and several other mediums. With introductions of a more feminist oriented research in order to explore and also to theorized the ways of women have meddled in order to challenge the mainstream media representations of women; themselves by producing several different types of new media where the women’s feminist values can stand in the central of which both the content of the media produced and also the production process has it, the feminist values.

New technologies provide the opportunity for women to acquire new skills that enable them to undertake tasks requiring multiple skills, logic, inventiveness and creativity that in turn increase their motivation to learn more. This may offer more employment opportunities for women in areas that were not available or appropriate for them before. One effect of mechanization and computerization of manufacturing is that it reduces the need for physical labour and increases the need for skilled labour. This opens up new possibilities for women to get employment in manufacturing fields after undergoing technical training. In  the metallurgy industry in China, for example, women used  to comprise only one per cent of the total work force, but  with the introduction of new technologies, the ‘heaviness’  of work has reduced significantly. Further, with the abolition of the distinction between ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ work, it is easier to argue for equal wages for women.

The broad impact of ICT on women has two perspectives: it serves as a tool in gender mainstreaming, but it also allows women to take a more active part in technology development, including the ICT itself. The way technologies develop is now changing: production of ideas alone is no longer sufficient for accomplishing innovation. The workforce of the future has to be multi-skilled, and must involve collaboration between workers at different levels of skills and with different perspectives. Women, through the connectivity provided by ICT, can take a proactive role in technology development: being half the population, they can influence the direction of technology development by bringing their ideas and their consumer perspectives to bear in the shaping the direction of technology development.

It is a commonly held view that women are less engaged with Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) than men. The new communication technologies are actually available for everyone to use and women have to be an equal benefit to the advantages offered by the technology, also the emergence of the use of it from the products and the processes. The benefits accumulated from the knowledge will not need to be restricted to the upper class of the society but have to flow freely to every part of the female population. The series of areas in which the new communication technologies can put a better supervision in the hands of women is very extensive and also continuously spreading. With the ICT after converging with other forms of communication have the actual potential to reach those women who are present have not been reached by any other media, hence empowering them to start participating in economic and social progress, and also to make informed decision on issues that will affect them dearly.

The issues normally faced by women such as gender equality, equity and empowerment of women have now started to become even more significant in these women’s lives as they have a vital role in the growth and also transfer of knowledge, which often forms the prototype of survival for the communities to start to adapt and also to minimize the women’s risk in unfortunate circumstances. Because of women’s biological and social roles, they are generally more persistent than men in the regions of their habitat. Women are therefore much more aware than men of the environmental, economic and social needs of their own territory.


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