The representation of women in the media and advertisements is an example of the exploitation of women that is prevalent in contemporary society. The exploitative representation has been criticized by advocates of women rights. The mass media including television, newspapers, magazines, the internet, and movies portray women mainly as objectives that are meant to satisfy the sexual needs of men (Albertazzi and Cobley 418).
This is evident in advertisements that sell beauty and food products to customers. On the other hand, the media portrays women as inferior and weak and therefore, in need of assistance from their male counterparts (Carilli and Campbell 34).
This has created several stereotypes and perceptions that limit women especially those who pursue careers such as engineering, law, politics, and medicine. The notion that women are weak and fragile is a stereotype that is baseless and inconsiderate. Advertisements and the media objectify women and portray them as weak, fragile, and inferior to men.
Portrayal of women in the media
The rapid growth of mass media in the last few decades has led to the emergence of an inappropriate trend of objectifying and portraying women in negative perspectives (Szymanski, Moffit, and Carr 5). The representation of women in today’s media is an issue of great concern. Young people are constantly bombarded by information through media platforms such as newspapers, magazines, films, televisions, radio, and the internet.
The media should play a key role in empowering women and providing equal opportunities for economic and social development (Carilli and Campbell 35). It was projected that the ongoing technological revolution would provide an avenue for uplifting women and enhancing gender equality in society. However, it has morphed into a source of ridicule and an avenue for female exploitation. Research has shown that the portrayal of women in the media is unsatisfactory and largely exploitative.
The media continually reinforces gender-based stereotypes that degrade women and relegate them to inferior positions in society (Albertazzi and Cobley 418). The gender roles of women are limited to motherhood and marriage. As such, they are viewed as helpers who are supposed to follow in the footsteps of their men. Women are also portrayed as weak and inferior to men (Carilli and Campbell 36). Many media outlets describe men are more intelligent and capable than women.
This stereotype has limited the advancement of women in careers such as politics and sports. In many organizations, women are restricted to certain roles. Very few women hold managerial positions that give them the power to make major organizational decisions. The media promotes gender insensitivity because even though issues of women objectification and exploitation exist, they are not addressed appropriately (Szymanski, Moffit, and Carr 19).
For instance, the media engages in criticism of women who pursue political careers because politics is considered a male reserve (Carilli and Campbell 36). The media does not highlight the diverse roles and contributions that women make in society. Instead, they focus on promoting stereotypes that do little to uplift women. Scarcity of women in certain fields is evidence of this degradation by media outlets.
For instance, fields such as politics, engineering, law, and medicine are dominated by men due to the stereotype that men are tough and more intelligent than women and therefore fit for such challenging careers. However, the success attained by certain women in those fields has revealed that women can accomplish as much as men do only if they are empowered and given opportunities.
The media portrays women as weak and in need of protection that can only be provide by men. This has made women dependent on men and thus limited their potential for development and growth. The media is supposed to act as a tool for women empowerment in order to support their critical role in society (Albertazzi and Cobley 421).
In music videos, the portrayal of women promotes unfavourable evaluations and descriptions of women. Women who take part in music videos are usually regarded as immoral due to their styles of dressing and dancing (Carilli and Campbell 41). This portrays women in negative light because even though men are included in those videos, they are always well dressed.
Pornography is another source of women objectification in the media. In pornographic films, female sexuality is characterized by submission, cruelty, and degrading treatment. It depicts sexual violence as a normal occurrence that women should enjoy and treasure (Carilli and Campbell 44).
On the other hand, it presents the notion that treating women cruelly is an important trait of a man who is able to express his sexuality. These notions promote sexual violence against women. Pornography also reinforces the notion of female inferiority and that women are supposed to give in to sexual advances from men. It shows women as objects of sexual satisfaction that are easily accessible to men. The only role of women in pornographic films is to satisfy the sexual needs of men involved.
This propagates the culture of physical aggression, name calling, and violence against women (Carilli and Campbell 46). Women are always shown to react satisfactorily to aggressive acts meted against them in pornographic films. This propagates the ideology that women love to be submissive and dominated by men.
These films develop negative attitudes in men that spread other aspects of life that involve interactions with women. The inferior role of women in society is also portrayed in movies and films. In many movies, men play leading roles while women play smaller roles that portray them as inferior to men.
Television is another media platform that exploits women. Television stations have experienced severe criticism for the sexual exploitation of women mainly through their physical appearance. This is done mainly to attract more viewers. Blonde women have been presented as the most appropriate image for screens because of their hair.
This has propagated the notion that blonde hair is more beautiful that other types of hair. Exploitation of women in television is more rampant among teenagers than adult women. A report released by the Parents Television Council (PTC) revealed that the degree of sexual exploitation of women in TV programs has increased in the past ten years. Teenage girls are used more in scenes that involve sexual exploitation than older women therefore presenting sexual exploitation as humorous (Carilli and Campbell 53).
Portrayal of women in advertisements
Advertising is the main source of income for many media platforms. Therefore, they exploit it fully. The standard image of a woman as presented in advertisements is characterized by sex appeal, beauty, and seductive features. Advertising is the major channel that is used by mass media to exploit and demean women. One of the effects of advertisements on women is low self-esteem and adoption of unhealthy eating habits (Albertazzi and Cobley 422).
In advertisements, the image of a perfect woman is represented by a tin body, flawless skin, and sex appeal (Frith, Ping, and Cheng 59). This encourages women to adopt unhealthy eating habits in order to attain such bodies. The use of a slender body frame as a standard for female beauty has resulted in negative effects such as social discrimination of fat or big-bodied women. In social media platforms such as Facebook and twitter, such women are ridiculed and criticized in ways that affect their self-esteem.
The vague representation of women in mass media is most detrimental to young people especially female teenagers (Frith, Ping, and Cheng 63). The media determines the type of clothes to wear, the appropriate body shape and weight for a beautiful women, and the most appropriate physical appearance (Albertazzi and Cobley 423). This is aimed at selling certain products and services. Young people fall prey to such marketing gimmicks used by companies and media platforms.
In beauty and entertainment advertisements, women are presented as sexual objects that are meant to satisfy the needs of men. This is most demeaning portrayal of women in the media. Women are usually shown naked in order to reveal their sex appeal. This demeans and objectifies them. According to the objectification theory, women perceive and interpret their physical appearances based on the perspectives of other people and from observing other women (Szymanski, Moffit, and Carr 23).
The media provides channels through which women make these observations in efforts to develop their identities. The media socializes women to objectify their physical appearance and thus propagate the role play by advertisements in objectifying women. The sexual objectification propagated by different media platforms plays a key role in shaping gender roles and stereotypes that are commonly used to describe women (Szymanski, Moffit, and Carr 24).
Men participate in advertisements. However, they are not presented as sexual objects. The media initiates self-objectification that occurs after women observe the presentation of the ideal female body in advertisements. In this case, women become more concerned with their appearances because of the awareness that other people will be comparing them with women in advertisements and judging (Szymanski, Moffit, and Carr 31). This objectification makes women assume social and gender roles that demean them and limit their capabilities.
In the past decade, objectification and exploitation of women in the media has been on the rise. Technological advancements have led to proliferation of gender base stereotypes against women. The media portrays women as weak, inferior, sexual objects, and less intelligent than men. Female objectification is the dominant feature of advertisements.
They present the ideal image of a beautiful woman as characterized by a thin body, flawless skin, and sex appeal. The media continually reinforces gender-based stereotypes that degrade women and relegate them to an inferior position in society. Many media outlets describe men are more intelligent and capable than women. This stereotype has limited the advancement of women in careers such as politics and administration. The media portrays women as weak and in need of protection that can only be provide by men.
This has made women dependent on men and thus limited their potential for development and growth. Television stations have experienced severe criticism for the sexual exploitation of women in sitcoms and other programs. Advertising is the major channel that is sued by mass media to exploit and demean women. The standard image of a woman as presented in advertisements is characterized by sex appeal, beauty, and seductive features. Advertisements and the media objectify women and portray them as weak, fragile, and inferior to men.
Albertazzi, Daniele and Cobley Paul. The Media: An Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print. Pg 418
Carilli, Theresa, and Campbell Jane. Challenging Images of Women in the Media: Reinventing Women’s Lives. New York: Lexington Books, 2012. Print.
Frith, Katherine, Ping Shaw, and Hong Cheng. “The Construction of Beauty: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Women’s Magazine Advertising.” Journal of Communication 55.1 (2005): 56–70. Print.
Szymanski, Dawn, Moffit Lauren, and Carr Erika. “Sexual Objectification of Women: Advances to Theory and Research.” The counseling Psychologist 39.1 (2011): 6-38. Print.