With advances in technology, the media has become an integral part of everyday life. Media channels such as television, newspaper, and radio influence people’s perception on a myriad of issues. In these varied media channels, the images and traits of both men and women are presented through different approaches geared towards achieving a certain goal, especially in advertisement. In this perspective, these channels create meaning in regard to gender and play a substantial role in influencing people’s understanding sex as a component of history and identity. In most cases, the roles men and women play in media reinforce and echo the values and ideas related to femininity and masculinity.
In most of the media channels, women are portrayed as individuals with unsuccessful careers while men are depicted as having higher sustainable careers, which inspires their success. Underrepresentation of women is common in movies whereby, the plot revolves around portraying them negatively. For instance, in the movie Pretty Woman, Vivian is portrayed as a low-class street hooker who besides being self-employed, attractive, and independent cannot succeed in life (Newman, 2016). Contrary, Edward is depicted as a visionary man who manages to change the character of Vivian. In this view, the media portray femininity as a moving goal, which depicts behavioral and cosmetic expectations of a woman. Masculinity, on the other hand, is associated with aggression, empowerment, and dominance (Fiske & Hancock, 2016). For instance, the act of Edward transforming Vivian into a valuable member of the society represents empowerment. In real life situation, women are often seen as caregivers who rely on men for economic provision.
Media channels present man and women in stereotyped approaches that inhibits people’s views of human capacity. Often men are depicted as powerful, adventurous, and sexually aggressive individuals who are not concerned about human relationships. In contrast, women are presented as young, attractive, dependent, and passive sexual objects who in most cases are dump and incompetent (Smith, 2013). According to Scharrer (2013), the presentation of the media on both women and men is consistent with most of the cultural views. For instance, in real life, women dedicate their energy and time to enhancing their physical appearance and taking care of children and homes. Holtzman and Sharpe (2014) argue that the media pervades the lives of a significant number of people through gender misrepresentation and thus, nurturing a misconception on what is seen as desirable and normal for women and men.
The media portrays females are passive beings and men as aggressive people who are violent against women. Newman (2016) ascertains that a significant number of media messages foster violence and abuse of women by creating a notion that it is normal for the feminine gender to encounter abuse in marriage or in a relationship. Some of the most common forms of gender-based violence in the society include sexual harassment, rape, obstetric violence, and prenatal sex selection. A research conducted by Scharrer (2013) concluded that there is a desirable correlation between the rate at which women accepts violence as part of their life and exposure to media content related to sexual harassment. In regard to men, constant exposure to media materials related to sexual violence creates a belief that is acceptable to abuse women (Fiske & Hancock, 2016). Such media messages increase the likelihood of men engaging in rape and domestic violence.
In conclusion, the conduct of men and women on the media shapes people’s perception of femininity and masculinity. Often, the media reinforces gender roles in accordance with cultural views. Media representations impact the conduct of men and women in real-life situations by creating a notion of what is deemed acceptable.
- Fiske, J., & Hancock, B. H. (2016). Media Matters: Race & Gender in US Politics. Routledge.
- Holtzman, L., & Sharpe, L. (2014). Media messages: What film, television, and popular music teach us about race, class, gender, and sexual orientation? Routledge.
- Newman, D. M. (2016). Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality. McGraw-Hill.
- Scharrer, E. L. (2013). 15 Representations of Gender in the Media. The Oxford handbook of media psychology, 267.
- Smith, B. G. (2013). Women’s studies: The basics. Routledge.