The Marginality Of Women In The Media

1100 words - 4 pages

Historically, women have been marginalized and underrepresented in many areas of the mass media, most predominately advertising. Billions of dollars annually are allocated for businesses in marketing schemes and advertising. They include subliminal messages, which most likely are geared directly at a particular gender. With society becoming more aware of the influence of the mass media, and exposure increasing, inaccurate views of gender continue to twist reality by altering viewer perception. These gender stereotypes, both visible and invisible, need to halt the casting of women in traditional and inferior roles, and begin placing them in equal roles comparable to that of their male counterparts.

When one thinks of the decades of feminist mobility, there is a definite degree of gratitude. In the past 40 years the roles of women have changed dramatically, thanks in part to activists, lobbyists, and women everywhere. However, there is a definite need for change in the world of advertisement. As one of the largest media outlets, it connects to millions of women daily, most being young women. In being our next generation, the idea of equality in sex needs to be instilled early to counteract the stereotypes of the media. According to Jean Kilbourne in her book, Deadly Persuasion, the media has "made possible a kind of national peer pressure that erodes private and individual values and standards" (Kilbourne, 1999: 129). These new values are destroying a young woman's authentic self, in a sense she is selling herself into the media's stereotype. Women have become objectified in advertising at a very young age.

Take for example, Mattel's world of Barbie and friends. Since her development in the late 1950's Barbie has become one of the most profitable toys ever, in a sense, Barbie has become a kind of role model for girls. However, Barbie emulates nothing real and has upset many women for years. Anthony Cortese states in his book, Provocateur, that if Barbie were blown up to life-size "her measurements would be 38-18-34" (Cortese, 2005: 62). Recently, because of feminist complaints, Barbie has undergone a makeover slimmed her bust and thickened her waist, which sadly, resulted into losing her longtime lover, Ken.

Even though Barbie does not fit into the strict sense of advertisement it does impose a stereotypical impression at a very early age. One should realize that the cognitive level of adolescent girls is very high and because of this, advertising can be a potent messenger. Kilbourne agrees and states that "girls are extremely desirable to advertisers because they are new consumers, are beginning to have significant disposable income, and are developing brand loyalty that may last a life time" (Kilbourne, 1999: 131). Advertising agencies view women as a profitable source, using them as both consumers and producers.

In 2004, Paris Hilton was used to promote the Six Dollar Burger from Carl's Jr. Scantily clad in a leather...

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