Feminism has been a recognised social philosophy for more than forty years, and the changes that have occurred in womens roles in western society during that time have been nothing short of phenomenal. Yet media representations of women remain worryingly constant. Does this reflect that the status of women has not really changed or that the male-dominated media does not want to accept it has changed?Representations of women across all media tend to highlight the following: Beauty (within narrow conventions) Size/physique (again, within narrow conventions) Sexuality (as expressed by the above) Emotional (as opposed to intellectual) dealings Relationships (as opposed to independence/freedom) Women are often represented as being part of a context (family, friends, colleagues) and working/thinking as part of a team. In drama, they tend to take the role of helper (Propp) or object, passive rather than active. Often their passivity extends to victimhood . Men are still represented as TV drama characters up to 3 times more frequently than women, and tend to be the predominant focus of news stories.
The representations of women that do make it onto page and screen do tend to be stereotypical, in terms of conforming to societal expectations, and characters who do not fit into the mould tend to be seen as dangerous and deviant. And they get their comeuppance, particularly in the movies. Think of Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) in Fatal Attraction or, more recently, Teena Brandon/Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank) in Boys Dont Cry. America seems to expect its women to behave better than their European counterparts - British viewers adored the antics of Patsy & Edina in Absolutely Fabulous, but these had to be severely toned down (less swearing, NO drug taking) for the US remake, High Society.
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