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Women in the media

By Amina Hassan

The communication scene is changing in such fundamental ways that many social scientists term it as the dawn of the “Information Age”. Mass media is of limited relevance to the masses, especially those who are living below the poverty line. They can barely meet their essential needs of food and clothing, etc. Buying a cheap transistor set is a luxury they cannot afford. Newspapers and periodicals are out of the question. Thus the access to media and to media exposure can hardly be expected among the rural people, the slum dwellers, and other deprived sections of the society.

In the circumstances, the mass media are essentially ‘class’ media. However, it has far reaching consequences and can be an effective vehicle for social change. Media ascribes prestige and status to new values, norms, and practices, which they portray. There has been an ambiguity on the portrayal of women on the media; it is without clarifying whether it is to provide her, the equality to men or upgrading her status.

There is a belief that society is disadvantageous to women, systematically depriving them of individual choice, political power, economic opportunity and intellectual recognition. It emphasizes the political, economic and social equality of the sexes, advocates for women’s rights. There is a belief that women and men are, and have been, treated differently by our society, and that women have frequent and systematically been unable to participate fully in all social arenas and institutions. One of the tyranny is that women’s image has gone through several unjust projections at the hands of the media.

Cause for concern. Rarely is a woman shown as capable of solving her problems, standing up to indignities or violence, facing challenges on her own, or taking decisions. The image of the educated woman is telecast as insensitive, self-center and uncaring. The economically independent woman is shown as domineering and ruthless. The woman is ideal only when she is in her nurturing roles and as a supportive supplement to man. The portrayal of children in the media especially films and television is also very disparaging. Girls are always shown as looking after the younger siblings and imitating the nurturing role their mothers, whereas boys seek adventure, solve problems, and follow the role model of their fathers. Women specific programs on radio and television perpetuate sex stereotypes and cater to women as housewives and mothers, rather than provide knowledge and skills for their role as economic contributors.

The recent trend towards commercialization greatly expands the hegemonies grip of the fabrics, she does nothing at all. Her face is barely registered, nothing of her personality and achievements is known. The textiles themselves are extremely luxurious. The advertising world continues to use women to peddle its products, and to present women as an object. Advertising also reinforces housework as the sole responsibility of women with household equipment advertisements addressed only to women.

To give respect to women media, literature, art, theatre and music have to be effectively used to communicate messages to the masses. Child marriage, wife beating, ill treatment or abuse of women should be condemned through these media forms and widow remarriage, right to property, and respect for the women’s dignity and person are upheld. Such innovative media, offer considerable potential to empowering women and positive role and attitude towards women.
An important underlying premise for such a communicate both. A flawed argument with reference to women’s health and nutrition is the inference that these were important for the survival and well being of their babies and not as their human rights, even a part from the special needs of pregnancy and lactation. This bias has persisted and is ‘ faithfully reflected in the mass media. It directly continues to undermine that aspect of nutrition education, which could motivate women to feed their girl children, let alone themselves.

Far from advancing her only as a homemaker in life, it would surely emphasize on that she should be nurtured from childhood as a person capable of conscious choice and allowed to learn about responsible citizenship as well as responsible parenthood. it is implicit in such a policy that communication resulting from it would not be addressed to women only but to the society, – and the matching initiative would have to be made to remedy what is communicated for and about men, who are equally the products of the defective social- and the matching initiative would have to be made to remedy what is communicated for and about men, who are equally the products of the defective social system.

Source: The Nation

Date:12/21/2004

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