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Media's representation of gender

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Amy Midson

on 4 February 2014

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Transcript of Media's representation of gender

Media's representation of gender
Theoretical perspectives
Empowering Women

Media representations of femininity and masculinity

Liberal Feminists
Acknowledgment is given in terms of how media has changed for the better in the way they represent women. Yet they emphasis that men are still dominating the media world.
Marxist and Socialist feminism
Media represent gender in a way to make profit and this is how they create stereotypical views of women and men. Sitcoms, Game shows, Soaps all present 'traditional roles'.
Radical Feminist
Radical feminists. media represents women in terms of their traditional roles. keeping them oppressed. their argument suggests that now women are becoming more equal , achieving greater social, political and professional equality, media is now representing them at sex objects and mother housewives.
Mass Media today challenges the traditional definitions of gender and are actually a force for social change. Emphasis on new media directed at men and their emotional side rather than masculine ideals such are toughness. Do people now have a greater diversity to construct their own identities.
How does the media empower women?

Increases the number of positive female role models
Gives women more career ambitions and aspirations
Shows female independence
Feminises the economy
Our culture has been sexualised
Women are forced to become 'sexual entrepreneurs'
They become 'independent, powerful agents'
This leads to female empowerment
Young women's mags show women as independent.
This is reflected on British TV....
The opposing argument
Content analysis of teenage girls' magazines show.....
70% focuses on beauty and fashion
12% focuses on career attainment
How much really is about image?
These types of magazines provoke eating disorders in young girls
28% of women in advertising had comments made about the way they looked
69% of women said magazines influence their idea of a 'perfect' shape
Easthope (1986) argues that a wide variety of media types, for example Hollywood films and computer games. They both include the view that masculinity is based fully on strength, aggression, competition and violence is biological determined. Also, that they are biologically determined and have a natural goal for boys to achieve.
The 1980’s there was the great emergence of a new breed of glossy magazines, of which were aimed at middle class men. An example is GQ, FHM and Zoo. The content of these magazines suggest several ideas, including the suggestion that;
- Men are emotionally vulnerable
- Should be more in touch with their feminine sides
- Should treat women as equals
- Should care more about their appearances
- Active fatherhood is an experience worth having

Post-Modern sociologists began to believe it was the men’s response to the growing economic independence and the assertiveness of women nowadays. Men were beginning to be seen as a target as a metrosexual man, a type of masculinity that focused on appearance and fashion, as well as being both caring and generous. It was thought that the metrosexual man was highly in touch with their feminine side, and was both helpful in the home as well as being very considerate towards his female partner.
Gauntlett argues that there are still plenty of magazines aimed at men around, those magazines that sexually objectify women. Rutherford suggests that these magazines are the symbolic result of masculinity, the attempt to reintroduce the traditional masculine authority, ‘birds, booze and football’.
65% of women in senior management positions have children
Whannel (2002) introduces the idea that various images of David Beckham are contradictory. David Beckham is represented as both metrosexual and retributive versions of masculinity. He is viewed as having good looks, great at football and having vast amounts of competitive spirit, typically a real man. Yet, other times he can be viewed as the complete opposite, as metrosexual. This involves his being viewed as emotionally committed to his family and spending a great deal of time, money and effort on his image.
Women hold only 5% of positions in mainstream media
Women were the focus of only 19% of news stories about government and politics
Kilby argues that those popular shows in the 1980’s, such as the A-Team and Magnum, represented masculinity as being related to power, authority and aggression. As well as this, sport has always been viewed as being wholly about aggression, strength and action. The media coverage reflects this idea of men and after various analyses it saw that 80-90 per cent of media coverage is dedicated to men’s sport.
In Tuchman’s book ‘Heath and Home: Images of women in the mass media’ Tuchman saw women presented hugely in two various roles. These included the domestic role, as the housewife and mother, as well as the sexual role, as the romantic. Men on the other hand were presented solely as authority figures, workers, breadwinners and sportsmen. His book also mentioned that men outnumbered women by 3 to 1 in television women suffered ‘symbolic annihilation’, where women’s achievements were not reported or even condemned. As well as this, various programmes on television such as game shows and quizzes, displayed that they were highly presented by men.
Butler and Paisley (1980) analysed TV advertisements and due to this, supported Tuchman’s analysis. He saw that 90% of voiceovers in adverts were by men, displaying the idea of male authority. In addition, 70% of woman were involved in domestic chore advertisements, whereas men were only in 10%. This showed that men were viewed as recipients of women’s labours, eating food and wearing freshly clean laundry. However, those advertisements that aren’t based on housework are purely based on the obsession with looks, make up, fashion and dieting. Finally, 60% of women are involved in family roles within adverts, compared to a mere 16% of men being involved.
Ferguson (1983), took part in a content analysis of womens magazines between the years 1949-74 and 1979-80. She argues that, magazines are wholly based around the cult of femininity. Meaning that it promotes a traditional idea that excellence is achieved through caring for others, the family, and marriage as well as maintaining appearance.

Yet Winship challenged Fergusons view. Winship argues that women’s magazines emphasis the independence and confidence of females through images. They present women with far more choices for their identity. As well, magazines also tackle problems that have been previously ignored by the male dominated media, for example, domestic violence, child abuse and sexual abuse.
Wolf (1990), argues that those images of women used by the media, enable women to be viewed as sex objects and to be consumed by the ‘male gaze’. Kilbourne (1995) believes that women are often presented as mannequins; tall, thin, US size zero, very long legs, perfect teeth, perfect hair and skin with completely no blemishes in sight. Wolf argues that the media encourages women to view their bodies as a project, a project of which needs a constant need of improvement and alteration. He believes that it pressures women to look perfect.
Radway (1984) studied women readers of romantic fiction in the United States. Radway saw that women were conforming to the stereotypical women’s interests and roles. Yet believed it was much more complex, instead reading romances gave them more ‘space’ from housework in those patriarchal households. Radway saw it as a sense of rebellion.
Abercrombie (1999) more recently, soap story lines are driven by strong female figures for example, Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders. In the 1970’s where in TV programmes such as The Sweeney, where it was fully male centred and the women were either wives or prostitutes. Nowadays, TV programmes like The Bill and Prime Suspect, females often hold the centre stage and positions of authority.
being gay not necessarily integrated into mainstream media. But when it did appear (television drama) it was a source of anxiety or embarrassment, teasing or bullying.

Lesbianism however was completely invisible.

Watney- 1980's news coverage sterotyped gay people as the carriers of a 'gay plague'. This reflected mainstream society's fear and dislike of the gay community. It implied that AIDS sufferers had their own 'immoral and unnatural' behaviour to blame for their condition or death.
Dyer (2002)- male homosexuality dominated by camp characters. Stereotypically have high voices.
This is a safe form of sexual stereotype- unchallening to traditional masculinity.

TV Drama and Comedy- kinder to homosexuals

Brookside and Friends
- portray lesbian relationships in a

- major homosexual characters
plot tends to focus on homosexuality as a problem + on gays coming to terms with their sexuality

Homosexual storylines constructed for heterosexual audience and viewed through a
heterosexual gaze (homosexual issues presented from heterosexual view- in the opposite way)

Male homosexual characters overwhelmingly white and middle class.
Gross (1993)
= there are no 'just plain gay folks' in the media

1999 TV Series- Queer as Folk

Main characters young, stylish + gay- gay characters far from nice
Russell Davies (creator and also gay)- criticism from both homosexual and heterosexual people. He said gay represent actions in media had grown up. Gays could be selfish now, not just representable representatives of the gay community.

Gays may be stereotyped as evil or devious in television drama, as sexual predators or people who feel tremendous guilt about their sexuality.

Although tabloids relish in the idea of 'deviant sexuality' the media tends to see one to one sexuality as natural, normal and desirable. As time has passed, media is more accepting of homosexuality and so focuses more on paedophilia (moral panics).
- lesbian, gay and bisexual people are still under-represented in most mainstream media
things are slowly changing for the better.

He suggests
- tolerance of sexual diversity is slowly growing in society, images of diverse sexual identities that audiences are unfamiliar with may assist in making people more comfortable and accepting with these alternative sexual lifestyles.
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