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Women in the Global Media. Sydney Gilbert, Brandi Clarke, Sarah Mazur and Sarah Moran. Why is this important?. Every aspect of our life is influenced by mass media (Jenitta, 2011) Even if we feel above the impact of the media, we're rarely unaffected

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women in the global media

Women in the Global Media

Sydney Gilbert, Brandi Clarke, Sarah Mazur and Sarah Moran

why is this important
Why is this important?

Every aspect of our life is influenced by mass media (Jenitta, 2011)

  • Even if we feel above the impact of the media, we're rarely unaffected
  • It becomes part of who we are, entwined in our sense of self (Orbach, 2011)
why is this important1
Why is this important?

The media the ability to empower women when it comes to medical decisions, body image, self-worth, psychological health, and political influence.

You can't be what you can't see

  • The IWMF Global report identified glass ceilings for women in 20 of 59 nations studied
  • The IWMF found that 73% of the top management jobs are occupied by men, 27% occupied by women. Among the ranks of reporters, men hold nearly two-thirds of the jobs, compared to 36% held by women
  • Men outnumber women 5:1 in Jordan in reporter positions
  • In both Egypt and Israel,women are well over half the journalism workforce in the companies surveyed. (It is possible!)
  • Women have increased their ranks in the top management jobs, compared to a study in 1995 that showed women occupying on average of only 12% of the top management positions in 239 nations. The new global study shows women in 26% of the governing and 27% of the top management jobs.
  • Men outnumbered women by 2:1 in 5 nations – Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Ecuador.
  • The second pattern of gender lines was that of a glass ceiling: an invisible barrier beyond which women advanced in only small numbers. Glass ceilings were especially noticeable in:
    • Canada
    • Dominican Republic
    • Jamaica
    • Puerto Rico
    • United States
why is this important2
Why is this important?
  • Media is often a reflection of those who are reporting it, and if the majority of reporters and high up positions belong to men, we're not hearing the view of over 50% of the population.
  • How can Journalism and news coverage promote gender equality if there are evident inequities in media companies?
  • A free flow of information is an essential ingredient of open and democratic societies.
bad media
Bad media

"Bad media hurts real people. Better media would help real people."

  • "I want democratic media because: public TV just said that a family with lesbian mothers is unfit to be acknowledged on the network you and I pay for"
  • Perpetuates stereotypes about not only women, but other oppressed groups

(Jackson, 2005)

why is this important3
Why is this important?
  • Normalizes stereotypes
  • Sets a standard for how we "should" act
  • Shapes social norms and therefore our behavior
  • Women are predominantly portrayed as:
    • Trivial
    • Shallow
    • Pinned against one another
    • Sexualized
    • Overly-emotional
health effects
Health effects

Sets “body perfect” ideals that are artificial and biologically inappropriate that link to behaviors that include:

  • Unhealthy dieting regimes and problematic eating behaviors
    • Starving, bingeing, and purging
  • Clinical eating disorders
    • Anorexia, bulimia
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Extreme exercising
  • Unhealthy muscle-enhancing behaviors in boys and men
    • Taking steroids or other supplements
  • Also linked to depression, anxiety, sexual dissatisfaction, and low self-esteem

(Ossola, 2010)

objectification and violence
Objectification and Violence

"Not only are girls seen as objects by other people, they learn to see themselves as objects."

(Jean Kilbourne, Ed. D., 2011)

"The APA has found in recent years that self-objectification has become a national epidemic...The more women and girls that self objectify, the more likely they are to be depressed, have eating disorders, have lower confidence, have lower ambition, have lower cognitive functioning, and have lower GPAs."

(Caroline Heldman, Ph.D., 2011)

objectification and violence1
Objectification and Violence

“When sexual violence is portrayed, there is frequently the suggestion that despite the initial resistance the victim secretly desires and eventually derives pleasure from the assault."

  • This leads to the systemic ideas around rape and the victim-blaming angle society usually takes.
  • Violence is sexualized
    • advertising
    • movies
    • video games
    • and music...adding to messages about sex and sexuality that viewers are constantly receiving.
  • i.e. grand theft auto, pretty much any horror movie, crime shows
  • Correlated with higher violence and assault rates around the world.

(Malamuth & Briere, 1986)

questions for iep interviews
Questions for IEP Interviews
  • How are women portrayed in the media in your culture?
  • How would you compare that to what you have noticed about women in US media?
  • How would you describe the gender roles in your society? How do you feel these roles were established?
iep responses
IEP Responses

From the interviews with IEP students from China:

  • Cute and young = Pretty and beautiful
  • European/American look is idealized (i.e. light colored contacts, white skin, high nose, light colored hair)
  • Plastic surgery is a popular means to get this effect
  • Difference between U.S. and Eastern Asian media
  • Gender roles are similar to U.S., but more extreme in Eastern Asia

From the interviews with IEP students from Saudi Arabia:

  • Lacks women in the media and in politics because of religion
  • Huge difference between U.S. and Saudi Arabian media
  • There are different gender roles for men and women in Saudi Arabia. Men are expected to work and make money to support their families.
saudi arabia
Saudi Arabia

Popularized by the elite of seventh-century Arabia, the facial veil and head covering worn by a woman on the beach at Jiddah contrast with youngsters' colorful dresses. Veiling became fashionable during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad, perhaps in imitation of his many wives, who covered themselves in public at his request.

—From “Women of Saudi Arabia"

saudi arabia1
Saudi Arabia

While many cultures have been extremely impacted by the Westernization of our world, it seems that Saudi Arabia has maintained a sense of independence in regards to women's rights and portrayal in the media.

Oftentimes Saudi Arabian culture is criticized for their interpretation of women's rights, though it is important to recognize the cultural differences.

(Parker, 2010)

saudi arabia2
Saudi Arabia

Because of the traditional clothing that Saudi women wear, the eyes are emphasized as a way to express personal attractiveness.

(Parker, 2010)

saudi arabia3
Saudi Arabia

As documented by our interview with Naif, women are gaining rights in Saudi Arabia and are working to become a more prominent part of the working class. He menioned that his mother is a teacher at a local all girls school. After doing some research, I have found that women are able to work in Saudi culture but that they are limited to areas such as: a female schools, banks and other segrated working environments (Cochrane, 2010).

Another important aspect of the media's influence in Saudi Arabian culture is that most of the media outlets are owned by large conglomerates, which is similar to the state of media in the US, but in Saudi Arabia, the government is the largest stakeholder in these media companies. This creates a culture of fear, where reporters are oftentimes criticized or punished for reporting negatively about the government.

(Cochrane, 2010).


Obsessed with being kawaii (cute).

  • Big eyes
  • Doll like eye lashes
  • Dressing like a young girl
  • Having blonde or light colored hair
how kawaii is destructive
How "Kawaii" is Destructive
  • Cuteness is one of the most dominant pop-culture trends
  • “Kawaii” can be seen as a hierarchical adjective because it was used only by older or superior people to negate younger or inferior people
  • Motherhood, marriage, and women’s domestic lives continue to be idealized in Japanese commercials
  • Younger women are presented as sexual objects behaving in a cute, infantile, ignorant, and stupid manner
  • Women are highly vulnerable to male-controlled messages from the media

(Akita, 2005)

why don t japanese women fight this oppression
Why don't Japanese women fight this oppression?!
  • In Japanese culture, individualism = selfishness
  • “Human Rights” and “Women’s Rights” may be common in America, but are understood differently in Japan
  • Women are expected to support others to maintain social harmony, which is a norm created by men
  • Women want to become the ideal objects for the male gaze, driving them to seek the latest information about fashion and goods from various media
  • MAIN POINT: Japanese women do not talk about this sort of degragation simply because it helps them project their subservient and supportive socio-cultural role

(Akita, 2005)


Purikura (photo booths) that make eyes appear larger, and skin smoother/lighter(Japan Probe, 2010)

japanese mcdonald s commercials
Japanese McDonald's Commercials

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrfM0z0Xx_E (Ronald McDonald's Son)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gr6Wwb6Std0 (Ronald McDonald's Daughter)

  • 4 men for every woman gets news coverage
  • Slight rise of female subjects since 2000 (from 18% to 21%), but the fact remains that the European Union does not score well in relation to women’s voices in the media.
  • Women are central to a news story 10% of the time, this has not changed since 2000 and this is half of the U.S. rate.

(European Women's Lobby, 2010)

  • Goes beyond the news:
    • Only 32% of main TV characters are female
    • Women athletes are only 2-9% of TV airtime devoted to sports
    • Certain groups of women receive less airtime than average (migrant women, elderly women, disabled women, lesbian women, etc.)
    • Stereotyping as homemakers, victims and sex-objects is widespread (European Women's Lobby, 2010)
  • Fashion industry is known for eroticising increasingly younger models, and adopting the visual images of vulnerability common in pornographic media.

In recent news (2012, May 8)

  • Vogue magazine pledges to use only "healthy", age appropriate models rather than models that look like this:

(European Women's Lobby, 2010)

what you can do
What YOU can do!
  • Measure yourself by your accomplishments, and not by how you look.
  • Every time you downgrade your looks, remember that a girl is watching and that is what she is learning.
  • Reflect on the ways you might contribute to sexism.
  • Stop the girl hate! Stop the destructive behavior that we inflict upon each other, and ultimately on our selves.
  • Support media that champions accomplished women.
  • Boycott magazine, TV shows, and movies that objectify and degrade women.
  • Go see movies written and directed by women. And go on opening weekend, especially Friday.
  • Write your own stories and create your own media about powerful women in nontraditional roles.
  • Teach those around you to look at the media critically.
  • Ask your school to start a media literacy course focuses on gender issues.
  • Speak up! Don't be afraid to challenge your friends if you hear them saying derogatory things about women.
  • Find healthy role models and be a mentor to others.
  • Encourage women to become leaders, and support them in the process.
  • Make empowering other women and girls a priority.

(Newsome, 2011)

what you can do1
What YOU can do!

“To make change, people need both to see that something is wrong and -- crucially -- to believe that there is something they can do about it” (Jackson, 2005).


Akita, K. (2005). Cuteness: the sexual commodification of women in the Japanese media. In T. Carilli, & J. Campbell, Women and the media: diverse perspectives (pp. 44-57). Lanham: University Press of America, Inc.

Byerly, C.M. (2010). Global report on the status of women in the news media. International Women’s Media Foundation. Retrieved from http://iwmf.org/pdfs/IWMF-Global-Report.pdf

Cochrane, P. (2010, October). Saudi arabia's media influence. Arab Media & Society,Retrieved from http://www.arabmediasociety.com/articles/downloads

European Women's Lobby (EWL). (2010). EWL Beijing's +15 report on women and the media. Retrieved from http://www.womenlobby.org/spip.php?rubrique40&lang=en

Jackson, J. (2005, May 13). Media reform for what. Women in media & news. Retrieved from http://www.wimnonline.org/articles/janinejackson_NCMR.html

Japan Probe. (2010, August 24). Purikura – Japanese Print Club Photos Make Your Eyes Bigger & Skin Lighter. Retrieved from http://www.japanprobe.com/2010/08/24/purikura-japanese-print-club-photos-make-your-eyes-bigger-skin-lighter/

Jenitta, M. I., & Chidambaranathan, C. (2011). Role of mass media in women health. Global Media Journal: Indian Edition, 1-5.

Malamuth, N., M. & Briere, J. (1986). Sexual violence in the media: Indirect effects on aggression against women. Journal of Social Issues 42(3), 75-92

Newsom, J. S. (Producer), Newsom, J. S. (Writer), & Newsom, J. S. (Director). (2011). Miss representation [Motion Picture]. United States.

Orbach, S. (2011). Losing bodies. Social research: An international quarterly, 78(2), 387-394

Ossola, A. (2010). The media’s effect on women’s body image. Hamilton Bicentenial. Retrieved from http://www.hamilton.edu/news/story/the-medias-effect-on-womens-body-image

Parker, A. (2010, June 30). Sex and the saudis. Vanity Fair, Retrieved from http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2010/08/saudi-arabia-slide-show-201008