A glimpse into media messages about women.

Happy Monday 💛. I would love to welcome my esteemed readers. It’s been two weeks since I published an article; my apologies. Today’s article is a summary of the article I published on media portrayal of women weeks back. In case you missed it, here is another chance. I initially submitted this particular article to a women’s organization that requested women around the world to submit articles on issues that affected them for a digital book. Unfortunately, I haven’t received feedback from them and am assuming my submissions; this article and a poem, Silent Whispers which I will share this Thursday were not picked. However, that won’t stop me from sharing them with you, my wonderful readers. Hence, If you didn’t understand media Portrayal of women then I’m sure this is the article for you. It is well summarized and hopefully you will gain better understanding of what I was trying to elaborate in the earlier article. Thank you and happy reading lovelies.

Love, Muzhinga ♥️

In the age of information and technology, women are supposed to be backed up by the media in their fight against inequality, violence and discrimination. However, it is a different matter all together. Women all over the world face lots of challenges in relation to gender based violence, inequality and discrimination. These challenges have their origin from the patriarchal structure of society that oppressses women and results into physical, sexual and psychological harm and suffering of women all over the world. It is a manifestation of the prevalent unequal distribution of power between men and women resulting into male dominance and women discrimination in society. During  the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) held in 1979 during the UN general assembly’s adoption of the international Bill of rights of  women, it was discovered that the media, instead of helping alleviate sexist societal challenges that women face was rather escalating these challenges through limited representation of women in media, the media’s persistent focus on covering events that demean women while shifting the attention of media consumers away from successful women’s stories onto other issues as well as through media messages that stereotype women and sexualize them through a portayal of women’s body image negatively. 

The percentage of women representation in media is lower when compared to the  men’s in that nfluential and powerful women all over the world are not given the full proof coverage on news stories as men do hence, the increase in women’ s discrimination in matters of importance like decision making and leadership. There are powerful African women like Edith Nawakwi, Leymah Gbowe and many more who have brought positive developmental changes to the their countries and the entire world yet, their efforts are not as appreciated as those that have been achieved by influential  and powerful men. Evidently, the most talked about politicians, businessmen and leaders on television and other kinds of media are men while women receive little or no attention on their achievements,  rendering them non-existent or rare in the world of crucial decision making processe and positions.

On this note, it is vital that the media takes up a pivotal role In the eradicattion of discrimination against women by firstly, ensuring that an equilibrium of media representation of both men and women is achieved. Men and women both should be awarded deserved recognition and approbation for positively helping change the social, political and economic sectors of the their respective countries and the world at large. 

Furthermore, it is also important that the media shuns from biased reportage of women’s stories to demean them while avoiding coverage of stories that uplift women in society.  The use of the Agenda Setting Theory in the creation of media messages by the media fraternity is quite alarming globally in that the media is able to shift the attention of media consumers from an important matter to a a event that is seemingly trendy to woo over an audience and most of these stories involve women resulting into slander and negative portrayal of women in society with the help of editing and filtering technology. For example, the coverage of events of rape whose reportage is only focused on the victim while the perpetrator is left off camera by editing out or filtering parts of the information to suit their needs. This kinds of coverage gives a controversial angle to the story and  allows people to question the girl’s innocence in the event.

Meanwhile, women’s societal stereotypes are not the only challenges that women have to face in that they also have to endure the consequences that media stereotypes places upon them.

According to the media  such as movies, women are depicted to be sensitive, vulnerable, dependent on men’ decisions and weak while men are dipicted as strong and dominat beings. Such messages have helped escalate violence and discrimination against women. Morever,  most television shows and movies depict women as sexual objects and these kinds of messages usually spill and find their way into society,  making women prey to sexual assault, rape and molestation. 

Addiitionally, it is also evident that there is need to readdress media content freedom, guidelines and ethics. This is because media especially entertainment media condones female nudity in movies, advertisements and  television shows as a way of attracting media consumers or audience but, such content puts women in the position where men see them as a commodity available for male consumption and robs them of their sexual liberty and identity at home, workplaces  and in the street. 

However, the media can still help women receive fair and equal treatment in the world by establishing  shows that consistently allow women to exercise their freedom of expression by speaking out against violence and discrimination as well as establishing professional media guidelines, campaigns and codes of conduct that are against violent, degrading material concerning women  in media as well as society in view of addressing the imprevalent issue of gender inequality, discrimination and violence. 

By Muzhinga Kankinda

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