Social groups: Women

How are women portrayed? page3

  • —Typical stereotypes of women include the WAG, sex object, super mum, victim, ball breaker etc.
  • —Wolf and Tebbel argue that most females on television are young, pretty and attractive to the audience- drawing people to watching the television.
  • —Naomi Wolf states that the way women are portrayed fits the ‘beauty ideal’ that women need to look a particular way to please the audience watching the programme. The ‘beauty ideal’ refers to a young, thin and attractive female.
  • —Mulvey suggests that a ‘Male gaze’ occurs which sexualises women as the camera tends to focus on her body. This encourages women to be seen as sex objects.
  • Tuchman- Symbolic annihilation occurs whereby women’s achievements and successes are trivialised or ignored by the media.This can be seen in sport or politics.
  • —Duncan and Messner found support for this when analysing sports commentary. They noted that gendered language was used in sport where female sports professionals where referred to ‘girls’ rather than women and their success was often attributed to luck rather than skill.
  • —Ferguson analysed women’s magazines and found that they focused predominantly on ‘Him, her and home’. This supports the stereotype that women are concerned with looks, keeping their man happy and looking after the home.
  • Working in media corporations, women also experience discrimination due to the glass ceiling effect, gender pay gap, being replaced once they are seen as ‘too old’ or for being hired based on their looks rather than their abilities to perform a job well.


  • Wilkinson- A ‘Genderquake’ has taken place where women are becoming more equal and the media is reflecting this. This is supported by McRobbie who argues that popular feminism is changing representationsill
  • Gill (2008) argues that the depiction of women in advertising has changed from women as passive objects of the male gaze, to active, independent and sexually powerful agents.
  • Gauntlett (2008) argues that magazines aimed at young women emphasise that women must do their own thing and be themselves, whilst female pop stars, like Lady Gaga, sing about financial and emotional independence. This set of media messages from a range of sources suggest that women can be tough and independent whilst still being seen as attractive.
  • —Winship contrasts Ferguson’s research and found that magazines today are more equal & cover wider range of issues
  • —New media is changing representations through ‘fourth wave feminism’ – E.g. Ban Page 3 campaign
  • —Impact/ consequences = disordered eating, trolling.
  • Different types of media vary in their portrayals – the internet has less regulation and can afford to be more stereotypical or degrading towards women e.g. online pornography, pro anorexia websites etc.
  • Do representations shape or reflect society?

Adverts that shatter gender stereotypes



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