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How are Women Effected by their Representation in the Media?

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How are Women Effected by their Representation in the Media? Feminism has been a recognised social philosophy for more than thirty years, and the changes that have occurred in women's roles in western society during that time have been nothing short of phenomenal. Yet media representations of women remain worryingly constant. Does this reflect that the status of women has not really changed or that the male-dominated media does not want to accept it has changed? Representations of women across all media tend to highlight the following: * Beauty (within narrow conventions) * Size/physique (again, within narrow conventions) * Sexuality (as expressed by the above) * Emotional (as opposed to intellectual) dealings * Relationships (as opposed to independence/freedom) Women are often represented as being part of a context (family, friends, colleagues) and working/thinking as part of a team. In drama, they tend to take the role of helper (Prop) or object, passive rather than active. Often their passivity extends to victim hood. For several months now, there has been a furore of negative press surrounding a game by Simon & Schuster: Panty Raider. The objective of the game is to shoot "goop" at unwitting supermodels, which dissolves their clothing and exposes them in revealing lingerie. ...read more.


This is partly because of the increased media focus on masculinity - think of the burgeoning market in men's magazines, both lifestyle and health - and the increasing emphasis on even ordinary white collar male workers (who used to sport their beer-gut with pride) having the muscle definition of a professional swimmer. Anorexia in teenage males has increased alarmingly in recent years, and recent high school shootings have been the result of extreme body-consciousness among the same demographic group. As media representations of masculinity become more specifically targeted at audiences with product promotion in mind (think of the huge profits now made from male fashion, male skin & haircare products, fitness products such as weights, clothing etc), men are encouraged, just as women have been for many years, to aspire to be like (to look/behave in the same way) the role models they see in magazines. This is often an unrealistic target to set, and awareness of this is growing. Whilst some men are concerned about living up to the ideal types represented in magazines, others are worried by what they perceive as an increasing anti-male bias in the media. There is growing support for the idea that men are represented unfairly in the media. ...read more.


There is a need for women to re-define themselves in order to begin the reversal of gender oppression. We cannot accept patriarchal definitions of our bodies and ourselves. We need a new goddess, a new woman, a new cultural female icon that does not limit women. As Kim Chernin has written in Reinventing Eve: Modern Woman in Search of Herself, we need to reflect on the "Woman Who Is Not Yet": "These reflections on the Woman Who Is Not Yet are linked together by a fascination with food and by the general questions why food is forbidden to modern woman. Thus, the tyranny of slenderness encourages us to regard food with a sense of dread because eating leads us away from the present cultural ideal for slenderness in women and back to an older, frightening imagery of female abundance (Chernin xiv)." Recognising that the present ideal of slenderness has not always been the case at all times or in all cultures is the beginning of a new definition of our bodies. For centuries, women have shaped their bodies in accordance with men's needs and desires. Our lives have been immobilised in the process. In order to combat the pervasive effects of advertising on women's body images in our male-centred culture, our self-definition is essential. We must reinvent our bodies in a way that does not limit them. Grace Showell - Media - Representation 03/05/07 ...read more.

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