Multi-faceted Me: Why Media Must Drop its Stifling Female Stereotypes
AbstractWomen face gross misrepresentation in media today. In this essay I argue that the fight against misrepresentation has gone on for millennia and constitutes an integral part of the process of feminine identity formation. Women form their sense of self-worth and legitimate purpose in spite of the media's degrading and dismissive treatment. Establishing legitimacy in the face demeaning media depictions is a formative process for a woman, challenging her to ask weighty questions ("What is my role?") and seek true self-awareness ("Does this depiction describe how I feel?"). Media depicts women as static objects, but the feminine experience is a turbulent one. Media implies that if woman does not look [perfect] or feel [nothing] like the woman in the image, she is abnormal. All women navigate mass media while searching for their feminine identity. This journey represents a vast realm of shared experience that crosses cultural and geographic boundaries. Too often, though, women navigate mass media alone, and the cacophony of mixed messages bears down on a woman's consciousness unchallenged. There is an opportunity to fight fire with fire though: women can use media as a means to connect women to other women who face the same daily challenges inherent to the female experience and provide them with a sense of solidarity. By claiming a seat at the production table, participating more fully in the media sphere and promoting legitimate portrayals of the variations in the feminine experience, women can turn media into a tool for finding answers and gaining confidence.
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