Academic journal article Journal of Research in Gender Studies

The Modern Woman Image as Reflected by Current Media

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Gender Studies

The Modern Woman Image as Reflected by Current Media

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The study reveals the strategies through which current press journalists, when reflecting the image of the modem woman, especially that of the woman politician, introduce gender related stereotypes framed by pejorative clichés. Gender related prejudices are more detrimental to women than to men and when analyzing gender related comments within the written press one realizes that discriminatory messages are implied or clearly stated, thus perpetuating a gender related imbalance of powers.

Researchers spoke of a symbolic annihilation of women through mass-media, regarding TV policies which are both misogynistic and aimed to minimize value, through which the image of women was stigmatized, made trite and marginalized. This research focuses on the press reflection of three different images of the modem woman: the woman-politician, the successful woman and the pseudo-star. It will be noted, through examples that the picture of contemporary women created by journalists is not impartial, objective, but on the contrary, mostly misogynistic.

2. Media Construction in Portraying the Modern Woman

Media critics have tried to underline various ways in which media have interpreted the status of women, and some of their studies set out to emphasize that "aspects of the media's portrayal of women transcend cultural and class boundaries."1

Some conclusions of such studies refer to the fact that most of the stereotypes existing in the media's portrayal of women are originated in the common belief spread in the whole society. On the other hand it was demonstrated that media tends to portray the deviations from the stereotyped roles imposed to women in a negative manner leading to the assumption that media is a "reactionary force."2

The question of intellectual power and high social status of women is stressed out mostly in the quality specialized press, in articles in which their qualities are enhanced, qualities that determine a superiority gained in fields usually seen as men's domains. In such magazines women are represented as being intelligent, active, independent, they are models of competence, highly motivated to overcome the difficulties, and they are praised for not allowing men to victimize them. Women are seen as more likely to preserve a harmonic, beneficial medium for their coworkers, due to their empathetic skills, they are conscious of their value as equal partners in a double gendered cooperation. All these features are stressed out in those portrait interviews, typical for the feminist celebrity press.

The study "Image of Women Politicians in the Kosovo Media,"3 published in 2009, analyzes the media portrayal based on the methodology of gender studies, pointing out that "inclusion of the gender aspect in the regulations of the Independent Media Commission would have a positive influence serving for more sensibility of Kosovo media towards women activities in politics, in favor of a fair presentation of genders." Moreover the researchers consider that journalists should be aware that the ways women politicians are portrayed in the media are important segments of the process of democratization of the society. The authors come to the conclusion that due to the fact that the model represented by women in politics is closely related to their social status, the already existing gender stereotypes strengthen a predetermined model of a female politician. Because of the great importance of the role of media in portraying gender roles, journalists should modify their approach towards women and construct "a more adequate and fair portrayal, which then also helps in achieving gender quality."

The associate professor in Political Science from the University of New Brunswick, Joanna Everitt, writes about "gender bias in the media" 4 and underlines the fact that journalists are more likely to account for the reasons why women politicians do what they do, namely they tend to interpret women's behavior more, and they "punish" women who assert themselves and who adopt traditional masculine behaviors such as combativeness, roughness, aggressiveness. …

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