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The Exposed Problems Of Sexism In The Media Media Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 1855 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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For many years now the media we are exposed to every day has been filled with gender inequality (sexism) even though we might not always notice it. Gender inequality is a problem we as humans have been facing for quite a few years now and more often than not the media has been part of the problem and not the solution.

Problem statement: Does the media promote sexism and outdate views of male/female behaviour?

What is media sexism?

The Oxford Dictionary of Sociology defines sexism as being “the unfair discrimination on the basis of sex”. This kind of discrimination tends to operate in favour of men and against women; however the obverse is not entirely unheard of. From this we can assume that the term “media sexism” refers to discrimination on the basis of gender that we perceive from day to day in the media.

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As easy as the term may seem to be to grasp, it’s a much more abstract term in the way that we aren’t always aware of the sexism that takes place in the media. For example, the percentage of newsreaders covering important news stories that are male dominates the amount of female newsreaders covering important news stories. This is quite subtle and most people don’t notice this, whereas the amount of female sex workers seen in the news is much more than the amount of male sex workers seen in the news. Sexism of any kind, including media sexism can occur on many different levels and range from being covert to being outright blatant.

Yes – the media promotes sexism and sexist behaviour

From my point of view, yes, media does promote sexism and sexist behaviour. I say it does promote sexism because women, or to be more specific “women’s bodies” and “specific women body parts” are used to advertise new products.

How many adverts have we seen in magazines where new gadgets are being advertised with half naked woman holding it? Cars, TV, graphics card, cell phone, laptop, etc, are all being promoted and it is being associated with women and their body. The adverts on TV are mostly being advertised by women. And if look at these commercials most of them the women have nothing to do with the product that is being advertised, one of the example is the advert for fruit juice where woman were being splashed with different fruit and fruit juice. If we also look at the computer games and their characters we can clearly that its promoting sexism. As they make the women characters look very attractive and expose their bodies.

This is not the only place where media promotes sexism, if have we look at the movies and series, we can see that the men are the ones playing the important roles in the movie and women are there just as the hot sex icon, we can take Transformers for example, where Megan Fox who is the one of the main characters in Transformers plays a sex icon in the movie. If we remember when the Transformers 1 and 2 came out many men went with their friends to cinemas to watch the movie not only for its great action and effects but went to go watch it to see Megan Fox. I can remember many of my friends talking of going to watch it just to see her. This clearly shows that women, in this case Megan Fox, are used to advertise the movie so that it can sell better.

We can clearly see that media does promote sexism after we have given and discussed different fields of media where media sexism is being used. This is not good as there are many disadvantages from advertising women in such a way. Women are being used as objects. This has influence on men’s mind, as it changes the way they view women and how they treat women in general.

No – The media does not promote sexism and sexist behaviour

For many years the media has been dominated by male presenters, reporters, writers etc. Women were seen as inferior to men and their voices were not heard in the media. However, this has now come to pass…

According to the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), a global survey that is taken every five years, in 2005, 57% of all television news presenters were female and throughout the world women are more frequently becoming strongly represented in newsrooms. These figures also remained stable during the 2010 survey. It showed that while men were more likely to report domestic news stories (70%), women were much more likely to report international news (61%). Also worth mentioning is that 83% of news stories focusing on women were also presented by female journalists.

Their findings from 1995-2010 for reporting and presenting the news read as following:












%Stories presented on TV and Radio








As can be seen from the above table taken from the GMMP 2010, the percentage of males and females presenting news stories on television and radio have been rather stable and more importantly, equal for the last 20 years. This is a good example of how gender inequality and stereotypes are starting to dissipate from the media we are exposed to in everyday life.

This change was brought about thanks to various different approaches to the issue of gender equality in the media that include, but are not limited to:

Bringing gender balance to the institution of media;

Creating alternative media for women to tell their stories and to let their voice be heard;

Empowering and hiring female journalists;

These approaches aren’t mutually exclusive. They all play important roles in gender equality in the media today as well as the fair portrayal of females in the media.

In conclusion, males and females are slowly but surely starting to enter a balance when it comes to equality in the media. The days of gender stereotypes are drawing to a close and we welcome female journalists and newsreaders into the previously male dominated field where they prove themselves to be equals to their male counterparts.

How the media portrays men and women and the effects thereof

Through sexism in the media, stereotypes of how men and women should act and the roles they should adhere to are developed. The media has the power to influence the masses and by communicating sexist ideas the media is creating stereotypes by which they expect the public to conform to. Adverting campaigns such as the “Bar One Man” launched by Bar One and Windhoek’s “Always Keep it Real” advertising campaigns are typical examples of the media dictating how men should act.

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Women used for advertising and television programmes are most times abnormally thin and skinny. Women viewing this believe that this is the norm and are driven to unhealthy diets and eating disorders in order to obtain what the media has portrayed as the ideal body. Young girls and women can suffer from anorexia and bulimia while trying to conform to what the media has portrayed as the perfect body size. Men are portrayed as being very strong, masculine and muscular. Men spend hours at the gym trying to obtain what has been presented to them as the perfect body and sometimes turn to supplement such as steroids for help which damage ones health. As a result of not achieving the perfect body, people can suffer from anxiety, depression and a range of inner conflicting emotions.

Men and women are glamorised and portrayed as completely flawless in the media, this prompts everyday people to waste large amounts of money on cosmetics so that they may conform to this flawless image. Women spend money on expensive make-up, perfumes, clothes, jewellery and accessories while men are prompted to buy colognes, after-shaves and other costly cosmetic products in order to make themselves look appealing to the opposite sex. Some people would go as far as to pay to have cosmetic surgery done to improve their bodies.

In the media women are presented as sex objects to be used by men. This leads to decay in the self esteem of women as they begin to believe that the only way to get attention from men is to present themselves as sex objects. This also has a negative impact on men as they loose respect for women and are led to believe that there are many beautiful women in the world that are easy and willing sex partners.

In the media men are often seen doing something stupid or potentially dangerous to gain the attention and approval of a woman. This is seen in a lot of First for Women advertisements on the television and in magazines. This encourages men to act recklessly to get a woman’s attention.

The way the media portrays men and women is not an accurate representation of reality, but a false portrayal of how the media expects men and women to be. The way media portrays men and women creates an extremely high expectation of reality. People become obsessive about meeting that expectation and damage their health and emotions in the process. Men and women face disappointment when the opposite sex does not live up to the high expectation the media has created of them.

Using sexism to help promote or sell products does not always work in the favour of the companies advertising. Sexist advertisements that appear in the media can often annoy and enrage the gender that is being exploited or ridiculed in order to promote the product. This causes negative feelings and emotions towards that advertisement. By using sexism in advertising a company can gain the attention of its audience but can also leave people feeling angered and opposed to buying that specific product.

Group opinion

After discussing the topic and considering all the information we gathered throughout this assignment we as a group decided that the media definitely promotes sexism and sexist behaviour particularly in favour of males. The female body is often being exploited to sell products; females are less frequently used to present important news and less than 30% of journalists covering important stories worldwide are female (GMMP, 2011). Hopefully in coming years this will become a thing of the past, but for the time being media sexism is a very real problem that we face.

In conclusion

It would appear that the media is still representing females as being inferior to males or at least to a certain degree. Despite this however, females are starting to fight back and are proving to be worthy equals to their male counterparts. Organisations such as the GMMP are trying to ensure gender equality in the media and are slowly, but surely achieving their goal. This is a mindset that might take many years to get out of, but it is a necessary change that will have to take place if we are to truly progress as a species. In our opinion, males and females are equal and it should be portrayed that way in the media and in any walks of life.


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