Media image of women – 30 June 2010

Portrayal or betrayal? How the media depicts women and girls, wondered the United Nations Commission on the Status of women in New York this summer. And one delegate, Ms. Jan Floyd-Douglas told her own story to the conference: She wanted to buy a new car, but decided against as many as eight cars which she liked from different companies. She then wrote to those companies that she rejected their cars even though she liked those because the companies demeaned women.

With passage of time and with repeated depiction of women in a particular manner in the commercial media in particular, even women’s responses to the patently wrong depiction of women seem to have got blunted. Yet, the issue is not dead. On the contrary, it is assuming more serious proportions now because the commercial media seems to be going overboard with depiction of women.

The effort is to communicate to women — particularly young girls — that they need to be physically more attractive to men. The commercial media also sends a message to the boys — girls are sexual objects. This is highly objectionable, though the so-called modern human society has stopped raising its voice against such a brazen insult of womanhood.

It was in 1995 in Beijing that a global conference had expressed serious concern about progress of women in the changing world. The summer conference picked up the Beijing theme and considered how the media looks at women. What came out was an appalling picture, against which women must raise their voice in unison.  Sit before television even for an hour, and you will come across commercials that depict women as plainly loose in character — a young girl tearing away her bridal dress and ornaments just because she manages to inhale fragrance of a perfume used by a young boy across the street, or a scantily clad girl on a mobike choosing one boy because he has used a particular perfume, but throwing to another boy a bottle of that perfume (so that she may opt for him the next time!)…

These are the images from a spiritually defunct and psychologically sick society in which women are depicted to be sexually hungry and looking for every possible opportunity to go berserk and men all the time looking for chances to help the women go wayward. And frankly, these are disgusting images though the larger human society has ceased to rebel against such a brazen nonsense.  In reality, such a society does not exist anywhere in the world. There is no woman who is so loose in her morality and is so terribly eager to fall for a man or a boy who just uses a perfume. Naturally, when such a society does not exist, why should the commercial media depict women in such a mean manner, in such dirty colours, such ugly images? But the commercial media or the commercially oriented media has often used women to provoke perverse sexual emotions in the society. This may be an age old theme, but it nevertheless needs reconsideration in the light of a shockingly increasing usage of loose image of women.

The trouble is that it seems that even women do not mind all such depictions. Is this dumbing down? If that is so, then there is a need to shake these women so thoroughly that they wake up from the slumber. It may appear to be a traditional thought but it is not. Modern women are more aware of themselves as intelligent and useful human beings who contribute to the economy. They must therefore get up and protest against such degrading depictions of women in the promotion of products especially male products.

It is good that the theme has again been raised for discussion in 2010 by the United Nations Commission on Status of Women. Modern educated should wake up to the immense damage to their image and apply brakes on the wrong depiction of women in the media, before we lose our moral core.

Published in The Hitavada Womens World – 30 June 2010

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