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Role of Media in Reinforcing
Gender Perceptions
Dr. Mithlesh Jayas Mukherji
PhD (Pol Sc)
1,18,59,58,045 people in India
Nearly
50%
Women
Media & Entertainment Industry…??!!
• Advertising {OOH, Direct marketing, PR…}
• Broadcast, Cable, DTH, IPTV
• Filmed Entertainment
• Print- Newspapers, Magazines
• Publishing- Books
• Radio
• Upcoming convergent platforms- Mobile
and telecom, Gaming, Internet & Social
networking….
Indian Media Journey in Numbers
MEDIA THEN NOW
Newspapers
and Periodicals
3000 in 1947 including
300 dailies
93,985 registered
publications by Dec 2012
Television Two-hour/day
transmission on ONE
channel and 41 TV Sets
in 1962
850 channels with 24X7
telecast and from 127
million in 2008 to 253
million households in 2010
Films 280 films in 1947 and
had 150 theatres in
1921
1250 productions in 2010
having 13000 Cinema halls
Radio 1 AM radio channel in
1947
Multiple Stations: AM ,
FM, Community, Campus
Internet Inception in 1995, 4.55
million users in 2004
160 ISPs, 71 million
‘claimed’ users
• Till 1959, radio main means of communication.
• Newspapers limited reach in literate areas.
• TV in early days controlled by State.
• Advent of colour TV in 1981-82 brought crowds with
explosion in viewership in 1990s after onset of satellite
TV and airing of epics.
• Spread of mobile phones in the 2000s and advent of
smart phones with internet TV has revolutionized
information spread.
MEDIA- What does it do?
• MIRRORs the Society…..
• Creates MARKET by selling you ideas,
products, services…..
• MEDIATES experiences of its audiences….
• Provides MYTHs…..Circulates and
sustains them……
• CREATES definitions of NORMAL
Depiction of the ordinary Indian woman !!
Forging a cultural identity !!
QUALITIES expected of SEXES
WOMEN
• Passive
• Submissive
• Domesticated
• Delicate
• Pretty
• Cute
• Caring
MEN
• Active
• Aggressive
• Daring
• Stud
• Strong
• Tough
• In-Charge
Behaviour expected from SEX
WOMEN
• Agree with what
others say
• Behave as
expected in a
given role
• Defined
boundaries of
movement
MEN
• Take control of
situation
• Lead others and
given discounts to
women as stupid
• Can do anything
Valuation attached to SEX
WOMEN
• What they do in
house is not of
much value
• If she is working
outside and
independent
she is ignoring
family
MEN
• IF they do any
work in house
they are
obliging women
• If he is working
from home,
helping wife, he
is good husband
Portrayals of Women
• Mainly as news subjects
• Sensationalisation and objectification
• Glorified in certain roles like mothers
• Most often as a body rather than a PERSON
• Usually to support the sex stereotypes
• Usually silent, passive, not important person
• Most often shown in house and if shown
outside house than in domesticated roles
Why difference in these women!!!
• Media likes to show women as suffering,
sacrificing, submissive, silent, subdued,
passive individual driven by others.
• Media creates stereotypes of mother-
daughter-wife-sister which fits into
subordinate roles.
• Media promotes women as body- worker
without strength- person without own power.
But this image has also proven to be wrong as by the
late 1960s to 1980s women politicians had also
taken into mainstream politics and were slowly
emerging as regional and national leaders over the
next two decades
Indian Television….
• More diverse portrayals
• Soaps reinforce culture maintenance
responsibilities on women and stereotypes
• News objectifies women and highlights
expected roles
• Women as victims and women against
women are highlighted
Effect of Epics
The success of these serials led to a new
definition of the ideal “Bharatiya Naari”
Serials in the 1980s started depicting confident
young women taking on male dominated
careers
But mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relations
have remained adversarial in the media
Indian Films…..
• Commodification………..Stereotyping…………..
Objectification…….Role setting
• Setting parameters of qualities, behaviour,
valuation for men-women
• Lesser proportion of films showing women
in ‘control’ of their life
• Women directors did not make much
difference but the change is due…..
1950s – 1970s
In the early post-
Independence period
from the 1950s to the
late 1970s, women
were depicted in 2
extremes: the virtuous
woman who sacrificed
and kept together her
family and the self-
centred, career
conscious vamp who
would do anything to
further herself.
The film “Guide” was a landmark film by
Devanand who portrayed women strongly with
often sexual overtones such as Tanuja in “Jewel
Thief”. However Wahida Rehman in her quest
for sexual independence and Tanuja both had to
toe the then prevailing social norms and settle
down to being either the obedient wife/lover or
as a platonic friend.
The independent, career
seeking, sexually dominant
or power seeking woman
was always a villain in these
movies such as Nadira in
“Shree 420” or misguided
women like Wahida Rehman
in the “Guide” who after
they left the family to build
their career realized their
mistake and would come
back to the family in the end
as the traditional daughter
or daughter-in-law.
From the late 1970s onwards, increasing number of
realistic movies or “art films” as they were called
started realistically portraying gender and human
relations and emotions. This was also adopted by
mainstream movies.
In the 1990s and the 2000s, there has been a three
way movement of gender perception in films. In the
early part of this period, family dramas were made
which again catered to the “ideal bharatiya naari image”
By the late 1990s, item girls replaced the vamps of
yesteryears and the line of distinction between the
heroine and item girls got blurred. By the next decade,
mainstream heroines were doing item songs for movies.
Women in Advertisements…
• The average woman sees 400 to 600 advertisements
per day
• 50% of advertisements in teen girl magazines and
56% of television commercials are using beauty as a
product appeal, it’s no wonder we have body image
issues and unreal expectations
• We have been anesthetized to the way women look
in ads and thus accept it as normal, as ideal, as the
“goal” for all women
Ads have frequently objectified women as “sex
symbols”
In today’s business world, women are used as an
object to attract consumers’ attention to the
products that firms sell.
The use of women is one of
the most successful ways of
gaining the consumer’s
attention and getting her to
infer the right message in a
limited amount of space and
time.
In recent years this is slowly changing, with new ads
being gender sensitive, and providing good social
morals such as the
- Tanishq ad showing single mother remarriage
- Hero ad respecting the armed forces
- Jabong ad showing men wearing jewellery
- Bournvita ad showing a mother exercising with her
daughter to make her excel in sports – a male bastion
WOMEN in NEWS….as
News
Providers/
Sources
Media
Professionals
News
Subjects
Portrayal in news
“Sex sells” in news also: when the visibility of
an actresses' cleavage was a major news item
What happens because of such
Portrayals?
• Invisibility of women
• Marginalisation of women’s work
• Socialisation of young girls/women
• Definitions of ‘NORMal’
• Provides public sanction to men
• Numbness or Desensitisation of people
towards women and women’s issues
New Media: Ray of HOPE
• New media- Internet, mobile provides
space for women
• Women are voicing, making issues
visible, changing direction of discourses
• Newer occupations are emerging- food
bloggers, social media specialists, Cross-
country researchers, Doctors without
borders, Alternate Media reporters…..
Social Media
 The revolution called social media has actually taken the
world by storm
 Its growth has been exponential where Radio took 38 years to
reach 50 million users.
 TV took 14 years to achieve the same target
 The internet got there in 4 years, iPod took 3 years for the
same
 Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months.
 In the past few years, social media have made a rapid growth
in terms of user counts globally.
 Facebook has more than 1.2 billion active users.
 Twitter counts more than 200 million users .
 Google Plus has more than 540 million users.
(Sources- Facebook Statistics & Wikipedia)
WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA
Social Media in India
But problems remain with social media such as
• Easy availability of porn
• Lack of control over spread of content
• Lack of Accountability – any one can post anything.
Any picture can be used to convey any agenda (CUT -
PASTE – FORWARD type posts)
• Lack of Credibility: false news, false profiles
• Increased exhibitionism in society: posting whatever
they do or wear in social media.
One third of women working outside agriculture and
therefore are potentially less dependent financially on
their families
New India - a reality
and a hope
Conclusion
• Media can influence social behavior.
• Media has duty of projecting women and men in realistic
terms and not just objects to sell brands.
• Objectification and stereotyping is the first step towards
justification of violence or discrimination against any
group and women have frequently suffered from this.
• Now refreshing to see many advertisements and even
movies moving away from gender stereotyping.
• This has to be encouraged if we would like to provide a
more open, tolerant but at the same time more mature
society.
Thank You

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Media and gender politics

  • 1. Role of Media in Reinforcing Gender Perceptions Dr. Mithlesh Jayas Mukherji PhD (Pol Sc)
  • 2. 1,18,59,58,045 people in India Nearly 50% Women
  • 3. Media & Entertainment Industry…??!! • Advertising {OOH, Direct marketing, PR…} • Broadcast, Cable, DTH, IPTV • Filmed Entertainment • Print- Newspapers, Magazines • Publishing- Books • Radio • Upcoming convergent platforms- Mobile and telecom, Gaming, Internet & Social networking….
  • 4. Indian Media Journey in Numbers MEDIA THEN NOW Newspapers and Periodicals 3000 in 1947 including 300 dailies 93,985 registered publications by Dec 2012 Television Two-hour/day transmission on ONE channel and 41 TV Sets in 1962 850 channels with 24X7 telecast and from 127 million in 2008 to 253 million households in 2010 Films 280 films in 1947 and had 150 theatres in 1921 1250 productions in 2010 having 13000 Cinema halls Radio 1 AM radio channel in 1947 Multiple Stations: AM , FM, Community, Campus Internet Inception in 1995, 4.55 million users in 2004 160 ISPs, 71 million ‘claimed’ users
  • 5. • Till 1959, radio main means of communication. • Newspapers limited reach in literate areas. • TV in early days controlled by State. • Advent of colour TV in 1981-82 brought crowds with explosion in viewership in 1990s after onset of satellite TV and airing of epics. • Spread of mobile phones in the 2000s and advent of smart phones with internet TV has revolutionized information spread.
  • 6. MEDIA- What does it do? • MIRRORs the Society….. • Creates MARKET by selling you ideas, products, services….. • MEDIATES experiences of its audiences…. • Provides MYTHs…..Circulates and sustains them…… • CREATES definitions of NORMAL
  • 7. Depiction of the ordinary Indian woman !!
  • 8. Forging a cultural identity !!
  • 9. QUALITIES expected of SEXES WOMEN • Passive • Submissive • Domesticated • Delicate • Pretty • Cute • Caring MEN • Active • Aggressive • Daring • Stud • Strong • Tough • In-Charge
  • 10. Behaviour expected from SEX WOMEN • Agree with what others say • Behave as expected in a given role • Defined boundaries of movement MEN • Take control of situation • Lead others and given discounts to women as stupid • Can do anything
  • 11. Valuation attached to SEX WOMEN • What they do in house is not of much value • If she is working outside and independent she is ignoring family MEN • IF they do any work in house they are obliging women • If he is working from home, helping wife, he is good husband
  • 12. Portrayals of Women • Mainly as news subjects • Sensationalisation and objectification • Glorified in certain roles like mothers • Most often as a body rather than a PERSON • Usually to support the sex stereotypes • Usually silent, passive, not important person • Most often shown in house and if shown outside house than in domesticated roles
  • 13. Why difference in these women!!! • Media likes to show women as suffering, sacrificing, submissive, silent, subdued, passive individual driven by others. • Media creates stereotypes of mother- daughter-wife-sister which fits into subordinate roles. • Media promotes women as body- worker without strength- person without own power.
  • 14. But this image has also proven to be wrong as by the late 1960s to 1980s women politicians had also taken into mainstream politics and were slowly emerging as regional and national leaders over the next two decades
  • 15. Indian Television…. • More diverse portrayals • Soaps reinforce culture maintenance responsibilities on women and stereotypes • News objectifies women and highlights expected roles • Women as victims and women against women are highlighted
  • 16. Effect of Epics The success of these serials led to a new definition of the ideal “Bharatiya Naari”
  • 17. Serials in the 1980s started depicting confident young women taking on male dominated careers
  • 18. But mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relations have remained adversarial in the media
  • 19. Indian Films….. • Commodification………..Stereotyping………….. Objectification…….Role setting • Setting parameters of qualities, behaviour, valuation for men-women • Lesser proportion of films showing women in ‘control’ of their life • Women directors did not make much difference but the change is due…..
  • 20. 1950s – 1970s In the early post- Independence period from the 1950s to the late 1970s, women were depicted in 2 extremes: the virtuous woman who sacrificed and kept together her family and the self- centred, career conscious vamp who would do anything to further herself.
  • 21. The film “Guide” was a landmark film by Devanand who portrayed women strongly with often sexual overtones such as Tanuja in “Jewel Thief”. However Wahida Rehman in her quest for sexual independence and Tanuja both had to toe the then prevailing social norms and settle down to being either the obedient wife/lover or as a platonic friend.
  • 22. The independent, career seeking, sexually dominant or power seeking woman was always a villain in these movies such as Nadira in “Shree 420” or misguided women like Wahida Rehman in the “Guide” who after they left the family to build their career realized their mistake and would come back to the family in the end as the traditional daughter or daughter-in-law.
  • 23. From the late 1970s onwards, increasing number of realistic movies or “art films” as they were called started realistically portraying gender and human relations and emotions. This was also adopted by mainstream movies.
  • 24. In the 1990s and the 2000s, there has been a three way movement of gender perception in films. In the early part of this period, family dramas were made which again catered to the “ideal bharatiya naari image”
  • 25. By the late 1990s, item girls replaced the vamps of yesteryears and the line of distinction between the heroine and item girls got blurred. By the next decade, mainstream heroines were doing item songs for movies.
  • 26. Women in Advertisements… • The average woman sees 400 to 600 advertisements per day • 50% of advertisements in teen girl magazines and 56% of television commercials are using beauty as a product appeal, it’s no wonder we have body image issues and unreal expectations • We have been anesthetized to the way women look in ads and thus accept it as normal, as ideal, as the “goal” for all women
  • 27. Ads have frequently objectified women as “sex symbols”
  • 28. In today’s business world, women are used as an object to attract consumers’ attention to the products that firms sell. The use of women is one of the most successful ways of gaining the consumer’s attention and getting her to infer the right message in a limited amount of space and time.
  • 29. In recent years this is slowly changing, with new ads being gender sensitive, and providing good social morals such as the - Tanishq ad showing single mother remarriage - Hero ad respecting the armed forces - Jabong ad showing men wearing jewellery - Bournvita ad showing a mother exercising with her daughter to make her excel in sports – a male bastion
  • 30.
  • 32. “Sex sells” in news also: when the visibility of an actresses' cleavage was a major news item
  • 33. What happens because of such Portrayals? • Invisibility of women • Marginalisation of women’s work • Socialisation of young girls/women • Definitions of ‘NORMal’ • Provides public sanction to men • Numbness or Desensitisation of people towards women and women’s issues
  • 34. New Media: Ray of HOPE • New media- Internet, mobile provides space for women • Women are voicing, making issues visible, changing direction of discourses • Newer occupations are emerging- food bloggers, social media specialists, Cross- country researchers, Doctors without borders, Alternate Media reporters…..
  • 35.
  • 36. Social Media  The revolution called social media has actually taken the world by storm  Its growth has been exponential where Radio took 38 years to reach 50 million users.  TV took 14 years to achieve the same target  The internet got there in 4 years, iPod took 3 years for the same  Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months.  In the past few years, social media have made a rapid growth in terms of user counts globally.  Facebook has more than 1.2 billion active users.  Twitter counts more than 200 million users .  Google Plus has more than 540 million users. (Sources- Facebook Statistics & Wikipedia)
  • 37. WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA
  • 39. But problems remain with social media such as • Easy availability of porn • Lack of control over spread of content • Lack of Accountability – any one can post anything. Any picture can be used to convey any agenda (CUT - PASTE – FORWARD type posts) • Lack of Credibility: false news, false profiles • Increased exhibitionism in society: posting whatever they do or wear in social media.
  • 40.
  • 41. One third of women working outside agriculture and therefore are potentially less dependent financially on their families
  • 42. New India - a reality and a hope
  • 43. Conclusion • Media can influence social behavior. • Media has duty of projecting women and men in realistic terms and not just objects to sell brands. • Objectification and stereotyping is the first step towards justification of violence or discrimination against any group and women have frequently suffered from this. • Now refreshing to see many advertisements and even movies moving away from gender stereotyping. • This has to be encouraged if we would like to provide a more open, tolerant but at the same time more mature society.

Editor's Notes

  1. Social networking sites like facebook, twitter, youtube, google plus and many more mobile apps like whats app, hike messenger, v chat etc. have allowed users to share ideas, pictures, posts, activities, events and interest with people in their network.it enables netizens to communicate openly from all over the globe with no constraints of time and space.