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The Image Of Women In Mass Media

1336 words - 6 pages

Socialization of people has been occurring through family, public education and peer groups. However in recent years, the mass-media has become the biggest contributor to the socialization process, especially in the ‘gender’ sector. The mass-media culture, as influential as it has become, plays the most significant role in the reproduction process of gender role stereotypes and patriarchal values. It is true that a family model of nowadays is based rather on equality than on patriarchal values and women have more rights and possibilities on the labor market. However, mass-media still reflect, maintain, or even ‘create’ gender stereotypes in order to promote themselves.
For example, In 2011, ...view middle of the document...

There are plenty of other examples of mass-media prompting the gender stereotypes regardless of their form. One thing significant about these media is that they tend to describe female characters as physically and even mentally inferior beings that cannot be independent without male presence. Even children’s shows are no exception. In the children’s show, men are asked to be more active, brave and responsible while women are forced to support men and get help from them to solve a task.
The easiest and the most obvious way to confirm this by oneself, is to conduct the ‘Bechdel test’. The test is named after the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, who suggested the idea through her comic strip ‘Dykes to Watch out for voice’ in 1985. Partly inspired by Virginia Wolf’s observation in ‘A Room of One's Own’ , Bechdel created the test in order to digitize the number of male-centered films in Hollywood and see how they reflect the gender role stereotypes in the society. Nowadays, the test is not only being used in the field of cinema, but also used to examine the mass-media culture in general. The test basically asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Therefore, a film should fulfill the following requirements to pass the test. 1. It has to have at least two female characters with names in it. 2. The female characters should talk to each other. 3. The topic of their conversations should be about something besides a man they like in common.
Due to the simplicity of it, one might think that it would not be very hard to pass the test. However, the result is unexpected. According to the database of, out of 4000 Hollywood films, only 56% of them passed the test. 44% of them failed the test, 11% as failing one (the women's conversations are about men), 23% as failing two (the women don't talk to each other) and 10% as failing all three (there are not two named female characters). It is a disappointing result, considering the fact that the requirements do not regard to the ‘importance of the female characters’ in the films. Also, it turned out that the more commercially successful the film is, the less it is likely to pass the test. Another research conducted regardless of the Bechdel test, shows that only 28% of the female characters actually have lines in the films, and one-third of them wear ‘revealing’ clothes during the scenes.
So how do these films that failed the Bechdel test reproduce the gender role stereotypes and patriarchal values? How do they influence people’s perception on the social role of women? Although failing the test does not necessarily mean that it is a ‘sexist’ film, it shows how mass-media culture is far from the reality and is distorting the truth of ‘femininity’. Recently, Colin...

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