The mass media plays a very vital an instrumental role in today’s modern world. This is through broadcasting current information and issues in a fast pace and entertainment to a large number of people world over. The media consists of the press, books, television radio and the internet, which has apparently taken the world by a storm in this new era. The internet has been excessively developed over the years and it is one of the media platforms that are used by a vast majority of people. The television also comes in close and has an extensive influence on people all over the world. The media creates certain types of messages in the form of advertisements, news, and entertainment. These messages created by the media play a vital role in the society, and it has the power to manipulate people’s ideas, opinions and attitudes towards particular things in the society. The media, therefore, has a very powerful influence towards the ideas that are passed within the society. These ideas are passed on to the media users through music, magazines, TV, video games, social media, and they have a strong influence on how people see the world and what they expect the world to be like. Most often than not, the ideas obtained from the media influences people to want to act in the same manner as they have borrowed from the press.
Examples of gender stereotypes
The information and ideas received by through the media have a significant influence on how they think and therefore lead to the formation of stereotypes. This happens as people change their knowledge about how they view the world and their surrounding environments by sorting and synthesizing the information they receive from the media. This information leads to the formation of schemes, which influence our view of the world by representing the opinions of certain groups and how these groups see other different groups (miss representation, 2011). These views, therefore, lead to stereotypes, which are internalized during social engagements and thus can be passed to others within the society. Theses stereotypes, however, present subjective incomplete and at times false information and images of the reality. These stereotypes especially femininity and masculinity stereotypes portray different genders in such a way that limits the actions of boys and girls in the society. For example, the media most often than not portray men as financial providers of the family and women as mothers, wives who stay at home to look after their children. Men are therefore seen as career focused individuals who are assertive and independent while women, on the other hand, are considered to be responsible for raising children, doing house chores and hold small and weak positions in the work environment (miss representation, 2011). I therefore strongly agree with the notion that portrayals of women in the media are inaccurate (Frith & Karan, 2008).
In the current era, the media through advertisements, movies, and video games portray negative female stereotypes in the form of images of what women should look like and in most cases; these pictures in reality demean and degrade women in the society (Ross, 2012). This can be evidenced by most music videos especially Hip-hop and rap music videos where women are seen to be skimpily dressed in almost no clothes. The women who feature in these music videos are used as props for attracting more viewership (Frith & Karan, 2008). These images do not only degrade the entire women community, but also very shameful. These sexually explicit images and content in the music videos promotes a negative view towards women thereby downgrading the actual characters of women within the society.
Examples of stereotypes in the media
The media also portrays the images of what they perceive as the “ideal” woman. These pictures show women that are young, slim, tall and who are perfect with beautiful long hair, perfect skill tone, and nice teeth (miss representation, 2011). These images are put up on the cover of magazines, put in advertisement billboards and they are splashed all over social media. These images are most often manipulated and exaggerated with unattainable beauty standards.
The current world also changes their view about women, and they picture those images from the media as that of the ideal woman thereby imposing these beauty standards to women (Ross, 2012). These images end up making women feel inadequate, and as such, most women are forced to go an extra length so as to attain this beauty. Women are seen to go for plastic surgeries; they purchase weight loss equipment including drugs. Most of these adverts and images are for commercial purposes with the aim of making women buy beauty products and clothes not knowing that they impact negatively on the self-esteem of the women (Frith & Karan, 2008).
Media influence on gender roles
My other point is that women are objectified as sexual symbols. The images portrayed by the media not only show women as beautiful but also as “sexy.” These pictures also put a lot of pressure on women so that they can be sexually attractive (Ross, 2012). This is evidenced in adverts and video games where women are portrayed to be dressed scantily and exposing too much skin. This sends out the idea that sexy women are supposed to dress in such a manner. This objectification portrays women as sexual objects, and their beauty and sexuality are linked to beauty products (Frith & Karan, 2008). The media, therefore, portrays women as objects rather than human beings.
As I had said earlier, the media does not portray women as career individuals but rather as home keepers who are not independent but rather depend on men who are described more as career people and the sole financial providers for their families. This has led to women being discouraged from entering certain career paths that are in most cases affiliated to men. This is seen in careers such as politics where women were not allowed to take political positions in the past. This has been carried to the future with only a few women in leadership positions. This was also applicable in the sporting field where until recently only men were allowed to officiate games such as soccer. This subjection by the media is wrong and portrays women as lesser beings as compared to men.
From all the above reasons, it is evident that the media negatively portrays women in an inaccurate and unrealistic manner (Ross, 2012). Therefore, to combat this stereotype, the media needs to change its perception about the woman and appreciate the women in the society by acknowledging their beauty and having respect for them. This will modify the communities view the women and help in the growth and development of women in the community.
Frith, K. & Karan, K. (2008). Commercializing women. Cresskill, N.J.: Hampton Press. miss representation. (2011).
Ross, K. (2012). The handbook of gender, sex, and media. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.
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