Advertisements and cinema have continued to attract consumers despite the problematic contents and visualisations that they project. Discrimination against women and men in this industry of media can often have severe impacts and they continue to promote gender stereotypes and hedonism. Discrimination and value bias embodied in the mass media are not isolated in the social-cultural system. They are inextricably linked to political, economic, cultural, historical, and other factors of society. Role conformity of the genders leads to severe consequences which deter society as a whole from progress and fail at providing gender and sexual liberation. Considering a woman to be respectable only if she fits into certain norms, i.e. being chaste, committed to household chores, and a transgression from which would make her evil is a harmful stereotype propagated by the media. Defining roles by gender, desire or behaviour is a lazy and simplified approach taken up by advertising companies to play it safe.
Take the stay-at-home advertisement on TV. They portray women doing housework, which alienates thousands of professional women, but so did men who also assumed these roles. Similarly, multiple advertisements, daily soaps, and movies deploy women in a role that requires them to stay home wives. These media that deploy gender stereotypes are invalid because they do not reflect real life. The media is far from enough in terms of a balanced and continuous reflection and performance of women’s social contributions and roles, whether it is the amount of publicity, the angle, and content of publicity, the actual performance of women in social production and economic activities. Some media that enter the market and operate, especially related to entertainment and consumption generally copy traditional gender roles disguising men are in charge of work outside the household and women are in charge of internal affairs, men are strong and women are weak, men are in charge of women, men are smart rational and women are ignorant and fragile and other concepts often show some stale feudal concepts such as women are disasters and blindly publicise women’s chastity. Another domestic setting that women are solely held responsible for in media is parenthood. Parenthood consists of both motherhood and fatherhood; the fact that industrialised societies tend to play down the role of the father does not make this a universal human necessity.
Some media use fair and skinny women as a means of promotion, one-sidedly emphasising the value of women viewing, some media overly expose certain parts of women, and even use sexual provocation to attract consumers. To use the term guilt in women to tell them what they should and should not eat, with multiple advertisements displaying women actors to sell eatables meant to reduce weight. The underlying idea behind all similar Ads of this kind is that women will be more desirable and attractive if they shed weight and are slim. There is a general notion created that being thin is more important than being healthy and fit. The image of women in the media does not match reality and there are different degrees of ideal bodies promoted that provide women with a preconceived notion of what is desirable and what is not. In advertisements, they are often restricted to fixed activities and private spaces such as homes or public areas with consumer nature such as beauty salons and shopping places.
The image promoted in advertisements usually have women appearing as materialised sexual tools, in the field of marriage and family as good wives and mother or successful wives, in movies, women tend to be the observed or desired object. Narrow aesthetic ideals have overwhelmed all other understanding of female bodies and beauty, leading to a shallow and even pathological pursuit of the ideal body shape. At social and psychological levels, advertisements use female bodies and smuggle unconscious gender prejudices, which can often escape rational scrutiny because of their commercial appearance. In addition, some media one-sidedly emphasise the value of female beauty, body, and age, which affects their perception of self and physical value and affects their realisation of self-worth and their participation in society.
The use of cinema and advertising to reinforce gender-based stereotypes is prevalent heavily and there should be a responsibility to break through that. Since media has a large reach, progress can be made if these powerhouses make an active effort to overcome gender norms and promote healthy and progressive behaviour and tropes. The power of advertising and the power to influence society brings the responsibility to set the right tone which includes not spreading any harmful stereotypes.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge