Gender Representation in the Media

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Gender representation has been debated for a long time forming one of the major movements against the traditional and cultural misrepresentation of women although there has not been much of a change. This is especially depicted in the media where women are seen as the gullible and soft human beings that can be manipulated easily. While the media is plagued with these misrepresentations, the information depicted on TV screens is much of a daily issue in actual people’s lives. The media has the ability to manipulate people’s attitudes into thinking in a specific way to the point that women have been blamed heavily for being behind sexual exploitation and similar predicaments. The media, as a whole, has misrepresented women for a long time and the vice continues to shape ideologies in the modern society.

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One of the areas in which women are seriously stereotyped is gender roles. For a long time, women have been perceived as the caretakers of their homes while their husbands go out to work and provide for them (Gill, 2006). This is in spite of the fact that women are now getting involved in more roles that have been traditionally viewed as masculine and performed exceptionally well in them. The media also portrays women in a way that it appears they are only concerned with beauty rather than anything to do with development. In many ads and movies, women are portrayed as loving wives and responsible houseworkers while their male counterparts are portrayed in a much dominant way where they are perceived like independent, career assertive, and protectors of the house not to mention financial providers. Many agree that there is nothing wrong with gender roles provided they are not enforced on the individual. If a woman wants to become an engineer, the society feels that she is overstepping and traditions force them to do a different thing which is direct oppression. Although feminist liberation movements have had a significant impact on changes to these roles, a lot still needs to be done as women are still being viewed in a similar way although not as pronounced.

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In most TV shows, women are underrepresented. Men are accorded a role in that they are the ones that coordinate activities in almost all the important sectors of the shows. In the event that women are put in charge, they constantly have to rely heavily on their male counterparts in order to get approval or to get anything done. Such underrepresentation sends the message that “men are the cultural standard and women are unimportant or invisible” (Wood, 1994, p.31). The women that struggle amidst these men and become powerful are portrayed as lacking the characteristics of a woman who should be charming and submissive to the males. Whenever the women become successful, they are portrayed as not caring and not pretty or desirable as compared to the thin, beautiful, and generally good to socialize with not to mention less outspoken.

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In most TV shows, ads and movies, women are portrayed as sex objects. Usually, all of the attention is directed to the most beautiful women in the show. When it comes to ads, only the most beautiful women appear in ads which sends a message of sexual attraction and lust (Wang, 2016).  This is especially the case when a product being advertised is directed at men or when the director of the show wants to manipulate an evil male character. Other women, especially those that are not considered beautiful or sexy, do not get nearly as equal attention as the beautiful ones and in some films, boys compete to see who will get in a sexual encounter with the most beautiful girl around; particularly those high school films. This objectifies women as sexual objects that are available for men to use. Moreover, it is easy to note that in most films women are portrayed naked at least severally while the same is considerably difficult for men. This brings in the idea of weakness and ease. When women are assaulted in the movies, they are usually blamed for dressing improperly and tempting the male. As research indicates, “the sexual objectification of women in the media affects men’s beliefs about women’s bodies” (Chrisler, J. C., & McCreary, 2010, p. 171).

Since the current world is plagued by perceived ideologies concerning gender where one’s gender should determine what they should do, how they should dress, and how they should look, the media just cements and makes these ideologies appear in real life by constantly showing them to the young minds and poisoning them. The content that constantly comes from the media is considered dangerous because it determines how the kids behave when they grow up (Knorr, 2017). Since the media portrays the ideal women with nakedness, how does the society expect these kids to behave when they grow up if they ‘know’ that being naked means being beautiful. “A narrow and unrealistic standard of physical beauty is heavily emphasized across media platforms” (Waterton & Watson, 2010, p.132). How would they expect to end sexual exploitation and have a morally upright society if the guy in the movie raped the most beautiful girl and got away with it?

In conclusion, the portrayal of women in the media has been improving. However, there is a lot that needs to be done because most men still view women as sex objects and as second-class human beings that can be manipulated anyhow. The media has prompted the development of misguided ideologies concerning beauty and what it means to belong to a certain gender like viewing women through nakedness.

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  1. Chrisler, J. C., & McCreary, D. R. (2010). Handbook of gender research in psychology. New York: Springer.
  2. Gill, R. (2006). Gender and the media. Cambridge: Polity.
  3. Knorr, C. (2017). What media teach kids about gender can have lasting effects, report says.
  4. Wang, Y. (2016). Sexual Objectification of Women in Advertising. Munich: GRIN Publishing.
  5. Waterton, E., & Watson, S. (2010). Culture, heritage and representation: Perspectives on visuality and the past. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate.
  6. Wood, J. T. (1994). Gendered Media: The Influence of Media on Views of Gender.
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