Portray Or Betray? Women In The Media
February 3, 2013 Leave a comment
The female image has become an increasing concern amongst teenage girls and women in our society today. This is due to the consistent sexual representation, which we have become accustomed to. The fast paced demand for this type of image is evidently due to the many conflicts of stereotype within the media. It is clear that teenage girls as young as eleven are looking up to the many digitally enhanced women perceived as beautiful. These youngsters are taking inspiration from these images, and placing an unhealthy focus on the promotion of sexual exploitation, and this is increasing in modern times. From history to current day women have experienced male repression, then the feminist movement, to the current sexual degradation of the female form and image we witness each day.
Mega-stars like Madonna and Kylie have been sexual style icons since the 1980’s, their image intensified the rate, which established this acceptable sexual portrayal of women. However in this era, there was also the fun option of leg warmers, iridescents and hair perms, which was quickly eclipsed by the media influence of the sexual style icon. In the last 30 years it is eminent from the dressing, posture, and portrayal of female images that there has also been an emergence of women using their sexual allure to obtain power. A prime example of this is millionairess, media socialite and glamour model Katie Price, who has exploited her sexual power to obtain success, status and wealth.
As time progressed from the 80’s there became an acceptable passion for following the escalating sexual representational image. Female icons in the industry began to build their fan base around their power to make a living from unobtainable seduction – presented in an illusive, obtainable manner. Common images of women in the general Media were listed under stereotypical categories such as; the Glamorous Sex Kitten, who today would be the typical pop star Katy Perry; the Sainted Mother, soon to be Duchess Of Cambridge Kate Middleton, and the Political Climber, American Politician Hillary Clinton.
The incline in the imagery of female sexualisation is astounding when you look at actual figures. For example in the 1960’s, researchers found that 11 percent of males and 44 percent of women were sexualised on the cover of renowned magazine Rolling Stone. Years later, studies took place again within the noughties, revealing that 17 percent of men and 83 percent of women were now sexualised on Rolling Stone. Among the sexualised images of men and women, 2 percent of men and 61 percent of women were sexualised in an almost soft porn manner.
The portrayal of women in the media has been a continuous point of strong international debate. In November 2012, a group of young campaigners gathered outside the News International offices in East London with a 6ft high birthday card for The Sun for its 42nd anniversary of Page 3. One half of the card was showing the typical way in, which women are portrayed in some of the tabloids – semi naked or topless. The other side showed how some of the males are portrayed. “Spot the difference” was the tagline, which accompanied the poster. The public response was “Clothes!”.
Furthermore, men were portrayed as respected professionals whilst the women were portrayed as sex objects.
Tabloids like the Sun have been using fairly immoderate images of young women in their issues for a long time now. National tabloids have developed an audience over the years, and Page 3 has been a popular feature amongst men for 42 years. The egregious representation of women continues, and it seems it will continue to do so throughout the consistently expanding media industry.
Pictures of women guarantee the sale of newspapers. In her day, Princess Diana contributed to thousands of tabloid coverage demanded by the public. Modern day Page 3 model, Sam Cooke from Middlesex has also been good for the sales of the Sun newspaper. In the competitive media market, editors are delivering exactly what the readers crave. If that means undressed royal women, then they will push to these boundaries. Ironically this is regardless of the gender of the writers. Within the media, women are presented in a very small minority when it comes to social roles of respect and prestige. Men on the other hand, are presented in a full range of social and occupational roles. The media is keen to present women to emphasise their domestic, sexual, consumer and marital or family status. They tend to ignore the fact that the large majority of British women go to work, and that these women are a valuable contribution to the economy. In comparison, men are predominantly defined by their career, position and status within the workforce. The female gender is placed into two categories by feminist thinkers: the unpaid domestic homemaker (domestic goddess) and the female stereotype career roles outside of the home like Dinner Lady, Lollipop Lady, Secretary and Nursery Nurse.
It is currently unlikely that the sexual exposure between gender equality in the media will balance equally, as statistics are fixed at 80/20, and have been for some time. The way men communicate is different to the way women communicate, and studies show that “men use about 15,000 words per day, but women use 30,000” according to Dr Karl, ABC Science. Also each gender has its own stereotypical genderlect. A man will tend to dominate mixed sex conversations; he will use more taboo language and interrupt more than women.
Male group talk will focus more on concrete, impersonal and fact related subjects due to the way the male brain operates. The conversation is also structured in this manner to maintain his strong male status. This communication imbalance among the two sexes can cause misunderstanding, undermining and competitiveness between the two sexes. Could it be this simple; the fact that the competitive communication battle between the sexes contributes to the reason why women are reduced to a sexual portrayal?
It is well known that during a job interview process, there is gender preference in relation to the potential post. Priority is given to a man if a woman is being interviewed for the same job, who share similar experience, qualifications, is equally attractive, but the role is traditionally carried out by men. For example, if the interview were for a job such as a Crane Operator, then regardless of the woman’s reputation, or experience in relation to this role, the man will gain preference. In the same way, if a man and woman were interviewed for the role of a hotel receptionist, the preferred candidate would be a woman due to the historic gender nature of this role, therefore she would get the job.
Unlike sex, which is a biological concept- gender is a social construct, specifying culturally designed roles and attributes that men and women are expected to follow. The investigation of the way discourse carries certain ideas about gender helps to maintain traditional attitudes towards gender. Women are noticed to be more emotional than men and tend to speak of their feelings more. Men on the other hand, like to perceive themselves as strong and dominant, their attitudes can sometimes seem blunt and unsympathetic and their mind always seems to be on a tangent, or a work related issue. For centuries, this has caused disputes between men and women due to a lack of understanding of the genetic diversity of both genders in thought and action.
In studies of Nature versus Nurture it is openly debated about what gender traits we are born with, and what gender habits we adopt due to society, media, friends and family influence. Arguably to some people gender is the way we perform and behave, rather than what can be seen in our appearance. The way we perform as a male or female can be how we are raised as a child. For example sometimes men are raised in a background which emphasises femininity, just as some women are raised in a background which emphasises masculinity. Additionally some would also argue that this can influence sexual preference, and homosexuality can be adopted by either sex as a result.
So what does the future hold for the image portrayal of women? Indicators point to women gaining more political power. Government has the authority to filter down its standards, views, ideas, and morals. Therefore with an influx of women in political power this may influence the direction of the female portrayal in the press and media. An infiltration of positive image for women in society could have the potential to change the world to a more sexually wholesome environment, contributing to the protection of the innocence of children and unrealistic sexual expectations of men.
On the other hand is the issue of female sexualisation ingrained deeper than we like to imagine? For example when Rebekah Brooks took over the Sun Newspaper in 2003, she could have risked using a dynamically creative campaign to replace Page 3. If she had been outraged enough about the portrayal of the female form at the time, this would have been initiated with immediate effect.
This example also raises the question of female unity…are we our worst enemy? Is there too much discord, competition and resentment toward one another to really stamp out the injustices against our image?
Women will always want to be admired, captivating, desired, rescued, protected, adored, and sought after, however the majority of women if honest, would prefer their sexual allure to be exposed in an intimate and personal setting, free from studio lights and public exploitation.
The general consensus amongst women is that they do want to be the Sex Kitten, but with someone they respect and who respects them in return. For women, sexual expression is prefered away from outside the prying eyes of the general public, as well as exempt from anonymous observation and critique. There is liberty for a women when she is free from comparisons and unrealistic standards of beauty. She is most sexually accommodating when in privacy, love and acceptance of all her “normal” imperfections.
What men need today: http://searchwarp.com/swa322153.htm