Representation of women in the media : should it go on as it is?
Media, an inseparable organ of our daily lives now, has made its way to our drawing rooms and bedrooms in such a way like never before. Think of ads on male apparel, deodorants, cell phones, or for that matter, a detergent powder or an international brand of watch. Come to think of it, women, for that matter need not necessarily feature in the ads of such products which have no association with them whatsoever. But what is being noticed in the last few years or so, is that, not only are women being used to endorse such merchandise, but are rather being exploited in a way that shows them in a negative light. Why, you ask me? Well, portraying scantily clad women in a sensuous way, that often borders on vulgarity, doesn't that hurt the modesty of womanhood, in general? And this strikes as something eye-catching more often than not, as the product concerned does not need such skin-show at all.
Leave alone that aspect. What about media, that tends to feature women with bodies skinnier than a normal woman can attain, thus putting women at large, under pressure to live up to such a hackneyed image. According to the Canadian Health Network, an average female model is not only much taller than an average woman, but also weighs around 20% less. It is such exaggerated emphasis on appearance that psychologically compels a woman to stress unnecessarily on her diet and her looks. She is somehow made to believe that she shall be subjected to laughter and condescension if she is not “up to the mark” in terms of how she maintains her figure and looks. Who sets such parameters and who judges them? It is the media that propagates such fallacious notions and establishes them in the psyche of individuals.
Also, simple facts that are often overlooked such as the airing time of women’s sports is far lesser than that of men’s sports, video games etc. have female characters that are usually skimpily dressed and highly sexualized. According to a recent UNESCO report (2009), describing the litany of the image of women that’s commonly upheld in the media, is that of “the glamorous sex kitten, the sainted mother, the devious witch, the hard faced corporate and political climber.” The report drew our attention to the fact that at the current rate of stereotyping women in the media, it will take another 75 years to achieve gender equality in media.
However, since such phenomena have become a part and parcel of our lives, it is much easier to ignore things and let them be. But the need of the hour is to wake up to this misrepresentation, because the attitude and beliefs of women towards themselves can be moulded in a large way by such depictions. The impact of “celebrity culture” has already taken a huge toll on the mindset of today’s women, if advertisements, news media, and fictional representations continue to show women in a stereotypical manner, the various legal measures that are being implemented to enforce equality between men and women will not be a complete success. Because, at the end of the day, the women themselves need to decide how they picture themselves and how they want to be seen by the rest of the world. Of course, they are much much more than how the showbiz would like to represent them.