What is the role of media in portrayal of women?

Media is a plural form of medium. Media is a unit through which messages, information, data, thoughts and ideas are transmitted or communicated. Mass media is a form of media where transmission and communication takes place across society to large number of people at the same time. Media can be classified as print media which includes newspaper, magazines, journals, pamphlets, leaflets, printed advertisements etc. whereas audio-visual or electronic media includes television, films, radio, computers and internet etc.

Since these tools of media communicates to masses at the same time and over a period of time, its content and ideas have a great influence on society’s mind set. Media has been used to change the perception of society. Hence portrayal of women in media definitely influence and shape the ideas and perception towards women in that society. Media can create awareness and sensitize people regarding issues pertaining to women. An affirmative image portrayed in media creates a positive environment towards women and traditional stereo typed image can create a degrading status of women.

Positive Role of Media

1. Awareness and Sensitization

Media especially news papers, journals and news channels help people to become aware of current scenario and status of women in the society. It can analyse problems of women and make its readers or viewers sensitive towards the same. For. e.g. recent television show Satyamev Jayate to some extent has covered several issues pertaining to women. or reporting on cases of violence against women with a great sensitivity. spreading the information regarding policies and programmes for women.

2. Highlighting Achievers

Women’s achievements can be highlighted in the fields of science, technology, education, economy, industry, entertainment, art, literature, music, social work or politics. For e.g. making story of Kiran Majumdar Shaw as an industrialist or on Lata Mangeshkar as an artist create a positive image of women in the minds of people.

3. Strong woman Characterization

There can be strong women characters in television serials or films becoming ideals for its viewers.

Negative Role of Media

1. Women as Sex Symbols

Women in media has been misused as a sex symbol for selling products in the advertisements or providing entertainment in the TV shows or films. Woman in skimpy clothes become an object to ogle up on and her sexuality becomes the only facet of her personality.

2. Beauty Pageants and Western Standards

Rampant beauty pageants where woman is seen as a model with an ideal face and figure often misjudge her as a dumb character or beauty without brains. Western standards of fairness and slim figure have become a craze amongst young Indian girls thanks to media.

3. Stereotypical Image

There is a stereotypical image portrayed as either an ideal bahu or a daughter who is vulnerable or a vamp that is cunning or shrewd. Reinforcing conventional roles of woman confined to households and private spaces, following customs and rituals further propagates traditional mind set and attitudes towards women in society

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