Assess the ways gender and sexuality are represented in the mass media

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Representations of gender and sexuality in the media.

Representations of femininity, masculinity, sexuality and homosexuality gradually start to deviate from hegemonic definitions (those dominating the society), in which the media play a dominant role. As role of women in society advances, so does the variety of female representations. Similarly, representations of masculinity are changing in response to feminisation. Homosexuality becomes more visible in the media, signifying changing perception of LGBT community. It is argued the media plays the key role in shaping youth’s view of sexuality, however its coverage in the media is still subject to stereotypes and hegemonic values. Despite positive changes in representations, women tend to be more sexualised by the media still. Moreover, issues of homosexuality are largely still marginalised.

The media shape youth’s understanding of sexuality and expressing it, which means its representation in the media is highly significant and should promote positive messages. BACHELOR argues the positive aspect of representations of sexuality is that importance of contraception and consent are emphasised in the media. However, he acknowledges that contraception is seen as female responsibility, while men are seen as pursuers of women. Representation of gay teenagers is extremely limited, although there are positive tendencies. More importantly, sexually active girls are represented as a problem and are usually a subject of moral panics, whereas boys are represented as naturally sexually active, which signifies existence of double standards in representations of sexuality.

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Homosexuality is increasingly visible in the media, signifying gradual shift in attitudes towards homosexuality, according to GAUNTLETT. TV representations, especially in soap operas, have massively improved for homosexuals. Series like Queer As Folk focus on the lives of gay people without limiting characters’ identities to their sexuality. However, even in soap operas, homosexuality can be still seen as a problem. Some argue that increased representation of homosexuals is aimed at the ‘pink economy’, i.e. Homosexuals with large disposable incomes, to increase consumerism among gay people. Alternatively, GILL argues, homosexuals are presented on TV to attract straight audiences because such ...

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