The stereotypical representation of women in Media

Women have historically been underrepresented or misrepresented in stereotypical roles within mainstream media. The representations of women in the media have known a rather rapid development and changed at the same pace as the cultural and sociological changes of any given society.

Female stereotypes, however, continue to appear in some media outlets. Women were often represented in roles linked to gender stereotypes, particularly those related to housework and motherhood: a good example of this would be the washing powder advertisements of the 1970s, in which mothers and small daughters would be seen working together, cleaning the dishes while men and boys were the ones covered in mud or worked manual jobs. Laura Mulvey, a feminist film theorist from Britain, argued that the Male Gaze occurred in film because heterosexual men were in control of the camera. The male gaze of the camera puts the audience in the perspective of the heterosexual men: the man, therefore, emerges as the dominant force, while the woman is almost passive under the active gaze of the man. Since the beginning of 1970, women started occupying a much wider range of roles, and equality with men's roles of women in society has changed considerably since these historical analyses of women’s representations. In recent times, several films are being directed and produced with a ‘strong' female lead. These characters are portrayed as fierce, tough and resourceful, and thus arguably subvert hegemonic concepts of masculinity. A number of female heroines have featured as the lead characters in various action 2000s movies, such as Terminator 2, Kill Bill, The Hunger Games, and many others. However, it could be argued that such films still perpetuate the ‘beauty myth’ as all the lead female characters are portrayed to be slim and fairly attractive. With the introduction of the web and graphical browsers, the gender balance knew a shift on the Internet. Though the use of the Internet differs from one gender to another, the internet population was evenly divided between men and women by 2000. Scholars in communication, psychology, sociology, and anthropology have carefully considered and studied the issue of media and how the presence of women affects the audience. In a rather institutional masculine domain of news and media, professionalism and objectivity are the prime constituents of journalists’ daily work.

The gender subjectivity assumed of journalists fits with overall structures is masculine: journalists might vary their approaches within the confines of these constraints. The media may influence the general behavior of the audience, by contributing to the creation and perpetuating gender stereotypes, and that through the news, advertisement and shows. Some researches have shown that by familiarizing individuals with groups other than themselves, may provide positive learning opportunities that help overcome stereotypes and prejudices in the media scene.


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