Media Representations' Role in Perpetuating Inequalities in Contemporary Society Essay Sample

Media Representations


Nowadays, the influence of the media on contemporary society is unusually large. It plays a vital role in people’s lives. The media is an origin of info that orients the person in the society. With the help of the mass media, the authority is acquired and held, the financial flows are directed, and the economy and policy are built. And also the awareness, the organization, the education, and the recreation of the population occur. The media representations shape people’s opinion about the world biggest values such as what they think wrong or right, well or not, ethic or wicked. They also impact opinion about how to handle and what to have in mind, to sense, to consider, to be afraid of, to make, and not to make (Kellner n.d.). As the media becomes increasingly mighty in forming the world’s sensation of the self, keeping an exceptional personality and self-awareness separately from the media impact becomes very difficult. This has led to the increase in society inequalities, especially gender and racial stereotyping. Therefore, current paper analyzes how the media representations perpetuate gender and racial inequalities in contemporary society. It also examines the influence of these representations on the formulation of policy to show the negative effects of stereotypes created by the media and to overcome them in the future.

Media Representations

Media representations are the methods in which the media shows the special circles, the communes, the knowledge, the thoughts, or the themes from a separate ideological or value prospect. Every media text portrays or practically creates a modern reality. This indicates that they are deliberately written, clarified, bordered, clipped, titled, earmarked, objected, and revised by their generators, thus they are fully non-natural versions of the reality people observe around them. It is important to keep in mind that each media tool is an image of somebody's apprehension of being codified into a range of marks and attributes which may be read by people (Key concepts in the media studies n.d.). However, it is important to note that without the media, the people’s perception of reality would be very restricted and that people as an audience need these non-natural texts to intermediate their perception of the world. In other words, the media should arouse the feeling of reality. Thus, representation is a flowing, bilateral process of generators placing a text somewhere concerning reality and audiences evaluating a text on its connection to reality.

Through providing audiences with info, media texts spread knowledge of reality. Every time people watch a wildlife documentary film or a movie on a historical happening or read about political events somewhere in the world, they spread their knowledge. Since the generators of the media text choose the information the people receive, their experience is restricted.

Media representations and the degree to which the people agree with them are a highly political question, as the media has a considerable impact on the way the people percept the world. Through observing media representations, their preconceptions can be intensified or destroyed. In general, audiences recognize that media texts are fictitious. Since people base their view of reality on what they observe in the media, it is perilously to assume that they do not see details of veracity in media texts.

The research of various kinds of representation forms is a considerable part of Media Studies. The gender and the race are frequently addressed factors of representation.

The Media Representations’ Influence On the Gender Inequality

Kendall (2004) claimed that sexism is the subordination of one sex, usually female, based on the assumed superiority of another one (p. 76). This oppression is usually shown as trivialization and objectification of women, thus men can keep social power, advantage, and opportunity, which leads to gender inequality.

The media distributes and assists a constructed picture of gender representation. Men and women are determined and restrained by borders that are made by pictures detected in the media. Concealed content is connected with what the people see and with the stereotypes and ideas they have about their society. The media representations became the criterion of what the society should be. Measurably, they even create and recreate society. Earlier, women were showed as the stereotypical housewife. Now, women are showed as faint and worse than men. Today, women are represented as something to look at instead of clever personalities who have to be listened. Advertisers utilize the exploitation of women bodies in order to say that if a woman buys their products, she can be just as sexy and desirable as the one on advertising. People always compare themselves with images they see in advertisements and around them. They have a feeling as if they should live according to these expectations. However, it is hard to fit those criteria, particularly when they are not even genuine.

There have been many studies made on the influence of gender representation on women, particularly youthful susceptible girls. Dow said that women see approximately 400 - 600 advertisements every day. Studies have found that 50% of advertisements in girl’s magazines and 56% of television commercials use beauty as a product appeal (cited in Impact of media on stereotypes and generalizations n.d.). Due to the permanent pictures showing ideal and perfect women, they continuously collate themselves and aim to attain an ideal. It is believed that these pictures induce a lot of women to have a sense of insecurity and dissatisfaction with their bodies. The society also plays a crucial role in this challenge since people not only make these pictures but believe in them. A lot of feminist theorists are worried about the representation of women in such a way and debate over the various ways in which women are shown. Some people consider such sex role stereotypes as the concept of home labor, the men's oppression of women, social category and ethnicity, and the women as a thing.

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When examining the mass marketing of women inequality, there arise three main notifications that are transferred to the womanish consumer anytime, both clear and indirect, with a doubtfully strategic intention to affect the womanish psychology by admitting and accepting subordinate roles as a result of keeping a woman in her place. Starting from childhood and continuing during the adulthood, the pattern reveals concordance of a big number of marketing venues. From bedroom settings, clothes, and playthings to greeting cards, magazine covers, and rejuvenating products, women are over and over told that they are: 1) faint, deedless, and subordinated to males; 2) initially answerable for all home and child care connected tasks (in addition to full-time job outside of the dwelling); 3) to cover a permanent occupation with body picture, mode, youth, and beauty in order to provoke men’s sexual imagination (Steiner 2010).

The majority of pictures founded in journals and the other media strengthen the stereotypical notions of women and men.

One of the main examples of the part of media representations connected to the creation of femininity is a focusing on body weight. The focusing on slimness is a modern cultivated appearance that represents modern cultured views. In media representations of the female body weight, slimness is accepted to be the perfect look. These representations have resulted in unsound diets, bulimia, and other continued negative influences on women’s bodies. For instance, as said in the PBS program, In The Mix, nowadays the ordinary model weighs 23% less than the ordinary American woman (PBS n.d.). If the measuring of a Barbie doll was converted into human ones, a 5'9" high Barbie would be 33-18-28 (bust-waist-hips). Above 80% of girls studying at school (6th class and beneath) have kept to a diet at least once. 40% of girls between nine and ten years stick to a diet. The majority of them do not have extra weight. 50% of white girls between 12 and 16 years think that they have extra weight and just 15% think that their bodies are in good shape. This is 6 times bigger than for boys.

Regarding sport, female athletes are constantly showed in ways that proclaim their womanhood and sexuality, such as fiancée, mother, or even as sex object. To compare, male athletes are mostly reflected in terms of their physical power and abilities (Alper et al. 2002).

Women are also showed in the media as engaged predominantly in heterosexual relations. Women on soap operas or dramas are often showed as initially engaged in relationships, household, private matters, dwelling while men are mostly engaged in the business, establishments, own personality, and strife outside of the dwelling. Women audiences are represented to be focused on home or interpersonal clashes.

Women are also shown in TV commercials and magazine advertising as consumers, mainly in terms of assuming household parts as a housekeeper, kitchener, mother, leaner, and laundry person, and as searching for pleasure in shopping.

Men are shown in the media in terms of physical aggressiveness, strength, competitiveness, and supremacy. These practices are conditioned by cultural factors. With the growth of a business and industrial economy, men dedicated more time to their job outside of the dwelling, producing a differentiation noted before in which they constructed their individualities around job while women around the dwelling. Men also began to accept more classical, “not feminine” clothing. Lace, which was connected with men in the 1500s and 1600s, was thought to be a mark of women.

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The second aspect of the presentation of men is physical violence as an utterance of “male outrage”.

The men are fivefold more likely to regularly watch sport programs than women. Aggressiveness and violence amid men are shown as thrilling and beneficial behavior. Sport titles focus on the thought that violence is anticipated. Fights, near-fights, menaces of fights or other violent actions are detected in sport titles and frequently literally formed in derisive language, which implies that this sort of action is admissible. Sportsmen who are playing with ache or "giving up their body for the team weal" are always shown as heroes. Annotators consistently use militant metaphors and language of war and armament to depict sports action. Many sport program commercials that men watch play on their insecurities about being sufficiently "man". Traditionally male pictures of velocity, hazard, and aggression are often used in the sport program commercials that men watch.

The Media Representations’ Influence on the Racial Inequality

Stereotyping is one of the most common and efficient ways in which racism is perpetuated. The most clear is the connection of special groups of people with peculiar actions. Many studies have pointed out that in general, people of color tend not to be shown in the media, but they are obviously present in stories relating to crimes or to problems in their communes. Their presence in definite categories of media coverage tends to emphasize the supposition that these persons do crimes and that they are the problem of the society (Jiwani n.d.).

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Robert Entman and Andrew Rejecki (2000) claimed that the prevailing image of black people on TV fluctuates between the extremely gifted, virtuous, and prosperous and the corrupt, maleficent, and dangerous, much more than it does with white people. They note that local news broadcasts always show urban Blacks as more likely to engage in criminal behavior than Whites. Such depictions may increase Whites’ fears of entering the Black neighborhoods as it reduces their sympathy for Blacks who are more afflicted by violence and crime than most Whites (Entman & Rejecki 2000, p. 209).

Another study of representations of various circles on prime time found that white people occupy 81% of screen time, 74% of all personages, and 69% of the nation’s population while black people occupy 16% of all personages in comparison to their 12% share of the population. However, this statistics concerns the rarely watched UPN network. |Damico (2003) dedicated his study to the problem that special circles are more frequently shown on particular networks, which resulted in the segregation in terms of audiences since whites are not watching UPN shows.

People of color do not see themselves in the media. They are not strongly respected. They are not frequently shown as the prime personages. This leads to the fact that too many people feel omitted. When people of color see other people of their race on TV, they feel pride. However, they are frequently portrayed in a negative life. They are featured in the films about crime and depicted as intoxicated or needy, or thrashing each other.

Media Representations’ Influence on the Formulation of Policy

The mass media plays an essential role in influencing the formulation of policy. The standard opinion is that the media is important only at the first phases of the policy process. The media can assist in setting an agenda, which is then accepted and worked by politicians and other policy makers. However, the influence that the media has is seldom held that way. The role of the media is very important not only at the beginning but also during the policy process (Soroka, Lawlor, Farnsworth & Young n.d.)

Many typical accounts of policy formulation have a confined opinion on the timing of media influence. The ways in which the mass media can matter are pretty well understood. The media can provide public support of certain problems. It can alert the discourse around a policy debate by framing or determining an issue with the help of dialogue or rhetoric to convince or dissuade people. The media can establish the nature, sources, and consequences of policy issues in ways that fundamentally alert not just the attention paid to those issues but the various types of solutions sought. The media can draw attention to the participants connected to the policy process and can help, support or prevent cause by pointing out their part in policy formulation. The media can also act as a decisive channel between governments and people, informing people about government activities and policies, and assisting to express people’s positions on government officials.

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The fact that all of these effects can be seen throughout the whole policy process explains the possible strong influence that media can have on policy. In fact, the mass media are in the exceptional position of holding a constant, significant influence on policy but officially, it is not participating in the creation of policy.


The today’s media has a big impact on the contemporary society and plays a vital role in people’s lives. Every day, people are surrounded with advertising and media tools. The media representations shape people’s opinion about cultural, moral, and spiritual values. This has led to the increase in gender and racial inequalities in the society. The media representations depict women as slim, domestic, and weak personalities, who are always in relationships and subordinated to men. As a result, the majority of women are always on a diet, are less paid, and are the objects of the sexual violence. Men are shown as aggressive, strong, and competitive individuals. Black people are less portrayed in the media than the whites. Moreover, they are predominantly depicted as criminals. Consequently, black people feel themselves left and disappointed. However, the media plays a decisive role in formulation of policy because of its strong influence and the fact that policymakers listen to it. Therefore, people should understand the negative effect that the media has on the society and not to succumb to its influence but still use it as the means of the expression of thoughts.

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