Mass media is especially harmful toward women because it constructs negative perceptions of women and reinforces a set of cultural norms for them to fit in society. This paper will address its focus on women and how the tools used by media shaped images of women, how they are represented and how their identity is perceived in society. Media influences their audiences in many ways, one of which is done through advertising. People prefer to believe that they are not being affected by advertisements however “advertising’s influence is quick, it’s cumulative, and for the most part, it’s subconscious” (Killing Us Softly). Advertisements are everywhere, found on televisions, buses, on the sides of buildings, on the Internet and in the magazines we read.
This aspect describes a reluctance when viewing women as equals to men. There is a natural intention of the society to oppress women and had been seen to be a common aspect. A patriarchal society had contributed much to the development of sexism among people. The belief that men are the heads of the families as well as the breadwinners had reduced the position of women in the traditional society. In this case, women have been seen to be feeble and supposed to carry out domestic chores.
Sometimes they sell addictions” (Kilbourne, Beauty and the Beast). When the average person is bombarded by 2,000-3,000 ads a day (Kilbourne, address), it is impossible to remain unaffected by the aforementioned concepts and stereotypes (Still Killing Us Softly, video). Ads use insecurities to promise betterment with the purchase of a certain product. They are breeding grounds for stereotypes; most, if not all, are negative. They provide impossible body images for women to strive towards, and sadly, many women do.
“Almost about seven out of ten women felt angrier and more depressed following the viewing of fashion model images” (“Media Influence”). It has portrayed an illusion of the unachieveable to men and women, causes atrocious effects, and has compelled millions of young girls, women, men, and celebrities feel the need to change. Media has negatively influenced the way people think of their self image. People presume that in order to be accepted into society, they must resemble the looks of models, actors, and actresses in television shows and magazines and this makes the average people insecure of their looks. Media makes minors believe that in order to fit into society, they must become "thinner" or "prettier".
Likewise, women have also been victims of society as they are constantly targeted by sexism and misogyny; leading them to feel inferior to men in society. The novel A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hossieni is an excellent exemplar of this treatment. Hossieni introduces readers to two Afghani women, who are brought together as a result of their battle against sexism and misogyny which is present within their community. The analysis of this plotline and research from secondary sources helps to prove, that the premise that women within a misogynistic society are degraded is true and is reflected through discrimination within the education system, misrepresentation of women in the media and the categorization of stereotypes. In Afghani society, women are victims of domestic violence, inequality and other types of abuse; however, the lack of education also takes an equal, if not greater toll than the abuse these women persevere through on a daily basis.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story The Yellow Wallpaper demonstrates how women in the late 1800s felt trapped to their husbands, how men typically thought less of women, and how men made the house hold decisions. Before the women’s rights movement got started in the late 1800s woman had little rights causing them to feel trapped to men. One of the reasons that women would sometimes feel trapped to men is because women at the time could not own their own land, and society looked at them as either their father’s belonging or when they got married they belonged to their husband. Women wanted to be able to own their own land and to be able to form their own identity by what they have accomplished in life (Gender Issues and Sexuality). Since the fathers or husbands “owned” the women of that time this could sometimes make the women feel trapped.
The impossible-to-achieve standard of beauty causes pressure, body dissatisfaction, and eating disorders in women. Women can be pressured when it comes to the ideal image of beauty. Many women, especially in the media thinks they have control of their bodies and think that they are expressing themselves, when really they are not. Mary Kosut informs, “Younger generations of women have been socialized to embrace a more sexualized appearance as a form of empowerment . .
Girls get the message from early on that what is most important is how they look. No matter what a woman accomplishes, her self-worth and value will always rely on appearance. Media devalues women through music, video games, television/film, even women in politics are undermined. Most of the time, women are stereotyped into being perfect people with silky hair, perfect teeth, incredibly skinny bodies, etc. Media tends to reinforce these stereotypes as that is not a true representation of actual women.
Sexualizing women are seen in media such as; movies, advertisement, television show and music video, where their main focus is providing the audience with an image of women as sexual objects rather than a human. This is detrimental to society since the media is producing social stereotypes for both genders, which can further result in corrupted social habits. Objectification in media are more focused on females than male, these false images of women leave individuals with the wrong idea of the opposite sex. As media continuously use sexual contents regarding women, the audience starts underestimating women. Specifically movies, it allows media to shape the culture’s idea of romance, sex and what seems
A Distorted Perception of Beauty: Media’s Influence on Body Image In today’s society, young women are developing a distorted perception of beauty because of the affects of media: advertising, magazines, and television and movies. Almost every image in the media features a picture of a young woman who is edited almost beyond recognition. It seems that every image of a young woman is the media’s “perfect lie,” that is hardly any image is pure or untouched. This perfect lie negatively effects young women’s perception of their look, style, and body. These false images cause severe consequences in young women’s physical and emotional aspects, negatively effecting how they perceive themselves.