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Gender Equality And Media: A Critical Analysis On The Objectification Of Women In Media

Media is a means of mass communication, which intends to reach a mass audience through its different platforms such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and the internet. Media plays a vital role in our lives starting from cartoons in our childhood to reality shows, movies, and news all over the world in our adulthood.

Media has the power to influence the audience at large into certain beliefs and manipulate them to act in a certain way that may be detrimental or beneficial to society. With time there has been a rapid development of media which resulted in rapid social change, technological innovation, and the decline of some traditional forms of control and authority.[1] Media through its advanced features of sound, colors, visuals, and motions makes the most appropriate means of promotion and persuading others.[2]

Hence, media plays a very important role as an agent of social change but in this context, one question arises in our mind how media has been playing a role in bringing gender equality. We have seen women as being projected as an object of entertainment or as beautiful objects who have to manage the household as well as work the whole day rising from bed till she drops dead on the bed and still she has to look beautiful. The kind of images of women presented by media largely has an impact on societal perspective towards gender.

Therefore, this paper will look into the stronger impact of media on shaping gender images, a kind of perception of gender stereotypes developed by society, and try to deliberate some suggestions on the role of media in bringing about change i.e. just and equal society.

The Image-Making by Media

Media - a powerful weapon and 4th pillar of democracy has also the power to divert our minds in such a way that we find ourselves becoming a victim of such influence. In this era of globalization and digitalization, we sit in our homes and watch new ads, and trends of big brands revolving all around the world and imitate those believing in what they show or say and even we get ready to tell our friends about new trends. The power of media is sensational and can shape our opinions with what they show as being perfect and ideal.

This kind of image presented by media doesn't represent the majority of society or even a minority of how we should look like.[3] As we sit here watching the new face wash ads or new trending dress of big brands and start to behave like the image that has been created by such advertisements then it shapes our perspective of ourselves. In most cases, often women become a victim.

The media has created plenty of stereotypical gender inequality. In advertisements, men are portrayed to be more powerful and always accompanied by women but women are often shown in a sexual or vulnerable position to sell the product whether it may be an advertisement for alcoholic beverages or shaving creams.[4] This is not a reasonable representation of women how they act and behave, but these types of ads can change her perspective of how they should look like.

It is a fact that we can find in our society where women think that they should have big butts, and big boobs and buy those products to look like them and ultimately they develop a sense of insecurity and tend to be less satisfied with their bodies. It may be argued that how one can blame media for the body image problems of women as women also have their self-consciousness but media is an important force in shaping one's opinions and as such society develop a gender stereotypical representations of women and only create more barriers for women.[5]

It is often shown in movies and ads that women are being tortured and being helped by men. All this representation makes those age-old gender stereotypes stronger and creates inequality in society. Women in media are presented as elegant and glamorous individuals and hence capable of handling everything. The media creates images of women as good and bad according to their performance in prescribed roles.

The media uses women as an object of beauty and finding women behind the camera is very rare. We do not know about Homai Vyarawalla who was first India's first female press photographer. On the other hand, Mandira Bedi, though not a cricket expert became a television anchor for the matches.[6] Similarly, it is not a rare case where news related to the atrocities of women is highlighted to gain TRPs. These issues have been ignored and sensationalized from time immemorial.

Failure Of Media As An Agent Of Social Change

Media is the reflection of society and at the same time, it has an important role in the socialization process. However, it has become more than an agency of social change; an agent for the transmission of traditional patriarchal societal rules, regulations, expectations, and gender stereotypes. The growth and influence of all forms of media, especially those of electronic media on the younger generation have become a negatively influencing social phenomenon.

The existing gender biases in society have become publicized and the societal age-old expectation of women to be thin and graceful and men to be muscular and tall has been portrayed, perpetuated, and over-emphasized in media. We can't deny its influence on our life. The potential of media for a positive impact on society has been rather under-utilized, intentionally or unintentionally, in the modern globalized world.[7]

We can therefore question - Are the women in media liberated? Is it not that the women are still confined to the private sphere?[8] The boundaries remain the same and change is only in the color of the boundary. The imagery of a corporate businesswoman managing the household, and taking care of the children assisted by the modern gadgets, strengthen the gender division of labor. By and large, the media is mute on defining women's participation in the public sphere.

Conclusion and Suggestions:
The way women are presented in media is very pathetic and these issues need to be addressed immediately as soon as possible. Media a powerful agent equipped with the potential of social change shouldn't be only an agent for just policing by maintaining the existing order following the desired and approved social control of the dominating group(men).

There should be necessary structural changes within media to reduce existing gender bias in society as well as to change the gendered role of men and women prescribed by society. In one study by Ammu Joseph 2010, it was revealed that there is a hierarchy of priorities in media settings.[9]

Hence changing the priorities is necessary. It not only became necessary just to change the present image making of women by media but also the fact that media plays a significant role in the transformation of society and withdrawing gender bias stereotypes following from time immemorial.

Not only does the fact role of media need radical changes but also the women's movement has to take a different stand altogether. Rather than asking for the right to education, vote, health, etc., it has to look into the nature of these rights as well. There are many other things for which there should be a struggle like change in the attitude of women and men, and change in the existing social system by changing the social structure. We do need to let women determine their future by undertaking the path of emancipation.

We should empower women but not at the cost of sensitizing the men folks. Media is also a facilitator of social change but its role in projecting and changing gender roles is doubtful. Media should create consciousness among people, especially among the marginalized sections of the society, and help them to organize into viable groups for promoting their life, lead a life of dignity, to develop culturally, and progress economically.

Instead of blaming anyone, there is a need to establish a new society where a spirit of cooperation and supplementary as well as a complementary relation between two equal individuals with equal opportunities for growth and development.

  1. Aruna Gogulamanda, Objectification of women in the India Media,17, Acad,2011.
  2. D. Dwita, IsnaWijayani, Gender Equality in Media Television, 10, NKDT, 44, 44-53, 2018.
  3. A. G., Supra note 1.
  4. Indhu Rajagopal and Jennifer Gales, It's the Image That Is Imperfect: Advertising and Its Impact on Women, 37, EPW, 333-3337, 2002
  5. id
  6. A.G., Supra note 1
  7. Claudia Padovani & Rossella Bozzon, Media gender-equality regimes Exploring media organisations policy adoption across nations, 2020
  8. Acker, Joan. (1989). Inequality regimes: Gender, class and race in organizations. Gender & Society, 20(4), 441-464.
  9. A.G. Supra note 1

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Nikchen Tamang
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