Women are nurturers by God's design. Their bodies are made to give. They give life through birth and nurture it through breast-feeding. Women are especially gifted in the areas of compassion, long-suffering, love, and sacrifice. We can easily see this in the universal love that mothers have for their children across every culture and continent. There's a lot to discover about gender images, stereotyping, the media and illusion. Very few people naturally possess the physique presented as desirable. Our self esteem is tied up in how we look. We can't feel good about ourselves until we truly accept our body shape and learn to love who we really are. Most of us are ordinary people with bumps, bulges, fat and little muscle tone. This doesn't make us inadequate or worth less than anyone else.
Advertising and Body image:
God has intended that both the bodies of both the male and female be held in purity and holiness. This means that because we are made in the image of God, and because we are to honor God in all things, we are to hold our bodies in high and respectful esteem and to not use our bodies in sinful ways. The woman's body, in particular, is more beautiful than the male's. The woman is not to use her body to entice men and draw lust out of them for the purpose of gaining money (prostitution) or motivating them to buy something (advertising). It is alright for a woman to advertise a product, but if the focus of the advertisement uses her body in a sensuous manner, then this is wrong.
Because of the nature of our human sexuality and the fact that males are more easily enticed into lust through the eyes, this means that the woman's body should be held all the more special and sanctified. This is one of the reasons Paul says women are to dress modestly. Sanctification means that the things sanctified are set apart for holy use.
Women are nurturers by God's design. Their bodies are made to give. They give life through birth and nurture it through breast-feeding. Women are especially gifted in the areas of compassion, long-suffering, love, and sacrifice. We can easily see this in the universal love that mothers have for their children across every culture and continent. But the world uses this gifting of the woman's beauty not for the purpose of nurturing, but in taking. Instead of elevating the woman to the stature of a nurturing, sacrificial, loving, and patience, adult, the world uses the bodies of women to entice out of man lust and with it money.
There is nothing wrong with the woman in advertising a product. But when that advertising involves demonstrating her sexuality and using it in such a way as to untangle men, to keep their attention, so that they might be enticed to spend money, then this is sinful. It is sinful because it is not honoring to the woman, because it is using her body to bring out lust, and it is using her grace to entice the spending of money. The world knows nothing of sanctification, and honor, and purity. But it knows plenty in the ways of filth, abuse, impurity, lust, and money grubbing.
Advertising and women image:
Advertisers try to convince us that their version of reality is the truth. How many of us have become paranoid when looking at the images of males and females in advertising when we don't measure up? Women are 'supposed' to be sleek, slender and slim. Men are 'supposed' to be muscular and trim. But - very few people naturally possess this desired physique.
Increasingly body image is becoming an issue among young people. Most media advertisements tend to build up unrealistic images which young people aspire to. Steroid use by young men and eating disorders among both men and women are becoming particularly dangerous.
Knowledge is power and this quest is designed to help you develop awareness of how gender representation in ads can affect self esteem and to realize that the images we see are only versions of reality and not the truth.
Explore some Representations of Gender in Various Media:
Individuals [or pairs - link with someone in another group looking at the same medium] will need to explore one of the perspectives below. Before we decide on television, radio, internet or magazine ads, we need to consider the following:
If you choose radio ads, you need to have access to a radio/tape deck to tape some ads.
If you choose TV, you need to have access to a VCR to tape a commercial.
If you choose internet ads you will need internet access at home or have sufficient time available at school to complete the task.
If you choose magazines, you need access to a variety of good magazines. (You may need to ask your group to contribute too.)
If you choose newspapers make sure you have access to at least one weekend paper.
Depicting Women as Sex Objects in TV Ads:
(Effects on Body Dissatisfaction)
Recent study in social cognition has focused on what specific environmental conditions would help promote the forming of gender stereotypes in regards to social perception and behavior. Television advertisements are highly suggestible, persuasive elements of everyday life that do help form and strengthen gender stereotypes. Analysis of television advertisements has shown that many ads contain gender-stereotypic ideas and pictures. Americans cannot escape being affected by these ads, as more than ninety percent of all American families own televisions, and the average person views over seven hundred advertisements each week alone.
Social scientists are suggesting that although television ads are generally made to promote specific items, they may have a lasting effect on several things, such as people’s beliefs, values, attitudes and even their behavior. In 1980, researchers from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization suggested that repeated exposure to sexist ads is a contributing cause to havoc in society and many social problems, including such behavior as violence against women and sexual harassment to eating disorders. Although not many experimental studies have been done about the results of gender stereotypic television ads, research does suggest that these ads can temporarily influence the viewers’ self-concepts. Jennings, Geis, & Brown in a 1980 study found that women who viewed ads showing reversed gender roles were more self-confident than women who viewed ads with typical gender roles. In addition, Atkin & Miller in 1975 showed that children who viewed ads depicting reversed gender roles rated male oriented jobs as more appropriate for women, as opposed to those children who viewed ads with women in a traditional homemaker role. Later studies have shown that ads portraying women as homemakers may activate the belief that women are domestic and nurturing, whereas ads that show half-naked women, may activate the belief that women are alluring, frivolous sexual objects.
Western culture has changed its image of feminine beauty over time. Whereas once pleasantly plump was considered beautiful, currently a slender physique is what is considered ideal. With the increasingly thinner ideal, women’s dissatisfaction with their body image and eating disorders in women has increased considerably. This lead the authors to wonder about several things, such as; Would viewing ads depicting females as sex objects exacerbate these same body image perceptions among women? Would these female sex object ads influence body perceptions of men, since it might get them thinking about the stereotypical ideal of a large, muscular male body? Since research suggests that women who have feminist beliefs are less influenced by these sexist ads than traditional women, would the viewers’ perception of their body image be moderated if they leaned toward feminist beliefs?
Women and the Media:
During the past decade, advances in information technology have facilitated a global communications network that transcends national boundaries and has an impact on public policy, private attitudes and behavior, especially of children and young adults. Everywhere the potential exists for the media to make a far greater contribution to the advancement of women.
More women are involved in careers in the communications sector, but few have attained positions at the decision-making level or serve on governing boards and bodies that influence media policy. The lack of gender sensitivity in the media is evidenced by the failure to eliminate the gender-based stereotyping that can be found in public and private local, national and international media organizations.
The continued projection of negative and degrading images of women in media communications - electronic, print, visual and audio - must be changed. Print and electronic media in most countries do not provide a balanced picture of women's diverse lives and contributions to society in a changing world. In addition, violent and degrading or pornographic media products are also negatively affecting women and their participation in society. Programming that reinforces women's traditional roles can be equally limiting. The world- wide trend towards consumerism has created a climate in which advertisements and commercial messages often portray women primarily as consumers and target girls and women of all ages inappropriately.
Women should be empowered by enhancing their skills, knowledge and access to information technology. This will strengthen their ability to combat negative portrayals of women internationally and to challenge instances of abuse of the power of an increasingly important industry. Self-regulatory mechanisms for the media need to be created and strengthened and approaches developed to eliminate gender-biased programming. Most women, especially in developing countries, are not able to access effectively the expanding electronic information highways and therefore cannot establish networks that will provide them with alternative sources of information. Women therefore need to be involved in decision-making regarding the development of the new technologies in order to participate fully in their growth and impact.
Govt. Roles in Media Using Women:
In addressing the issue of the mobilization of the media, Governments and other actors should promote an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective in policies and programmes.
Actions to be taken By Governments:
Support women's education, training and employment to promote and ensure women's equal access to all areas and levels of the media;
Support research into all aspects of women and the media so as to define areas needing attention and action and review existing media policies with a view to integrating a gender perspective;
Promote women's full and equal participation in the media, including management, programming, education, training and research;
Aim at gender balance in the appointment of women and men to all advisory, management, regulatory or monitoring bodies, including those connected to the private and State or public media;
Encourage, to the extent consistent with freedom of expression, these bodies to increase the number of programmes for and by women to see to it that women's needs and concerns are properly addressed;
Encourage and recognize women's media networks, including electronic networks and other new technologies of communication, as a means for the dissemination of information and the exchange of views, including at the international level, and support women's groups active in all media work and systems of communications to that end;
Encourage and provide the means or incentives for the creative use of programmes in the national media for the dissemination of information on various cultural forms of indigenous people and the development of social and educational issues in this regard within the framework of national law;
Guarantee the freedom of the media and its subsequent protection within the framework of national law and encourage, consistent with freedom of expression, the positive involvement of the media in development and social issues.
By national and international media systems:
Develop, consistent with freedom of expression, regulatory mechanisms, including voluntary ones, that promote balanced and diverse portrayals of women by the media and international communication systems and that promote increased participation by women and men in production and decision-making.
By Governments, as appropriate or national machinery for the advancement of women:
Encourage the development of educational and training programmes for women in order to produce information for the mass media, including funding of experimental efforts, and the use of the new technologies of communication, cybernetics space and satellite, whether public or private;
Encourage the use of communication systems, including new technologies, as a means of strengthening women's participation in democratic processes;
Facilitate the compilation of a directory of women media experts;
Encourage the participation of women in the development of professional guidelines and codes of conduct or other appropriate self-regulatory mechanisms to promote balanced and non-stereotyped portrayals of women by the media.
By non-governmental organizations and media professional associations:
Encourage the establishment of media watch groups that can monitor the media and consult with the media to ensure that women's needs and concerns are properly reflected;
Train women to make greater use of information technology for communication and the media, including at the international level;
Create networks among and develop information programmes for non-governmental organizations, women's organizations and professional media organizations in order to recognize the specific needs of women in the media, and facilitate the increased participation of women in communication, in particular at the international level, in support of South-South and North-South dialogue among and between these organizations, inter alia, to promote the human rights of women and equality between women and men;
Encourage the media industry and education and media training institutions to develop, in appropriate languages, traditional, indigenous and other ethnic forms of media, such as story-telling, drama, poetry and song, reflecting their cultures, and utilize these forms of communication to disseminate information on development and social issues.