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Media, women & stereotypes

Despite progress in issues of gender equality, there is still a serious question about the stereotypical image of women in mass media on a global scale and particularly in Latin America.

 

MEDIOS MUJER ESTEREOTIPOIsabel Soto Mayedo

 

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), particularly in the countries of this region, television channels are showing comedy programmes which mock and promote violence in a family setting.

Specialists from the international organisation explain MEDIOS MUJER ESTEREOTIPO 6that although only charm and intelligence are expected from the men in these programmes, from the women they demand a lack of inhibition, as well as beauty and physical attributes which are in keeping with a style very different to the characteristics of people who live in these countries, .

In this century, in keeping with the commercial logic spread by Neoliberal globalisation, the in vogue social image insists that to be successful in society women must devote themselves to perfecting their body, and over-using all kinds of products intended for depilation.

Rather than depending on broadening their minds and becoming wiser in every way, those who want to obtain a position amongst the winners ought to lighten their hair, dress according to the rules of fashion and wear disproportionate heels, at the risk of making themselves look ridiculous and damaging their health.

MEDIOS MUJER ESTEREOTIPO 5This is suggested by a torrent of lifestyle sections, beauty tips, light entertainment and news, which is broadcast on television in those countries, in the image and likeness of the deluge of canned superficialities that the international media emporiums distribute.

Parallel to this, printed media and social networks have plentiful headlines that take for granted that women are ‘shoe-aholics’ or ‘handbag-aholics’ – that is, addicted to shoes and handbags – or that they fall apart over such things as the tiniest MEDIOS MUJER ESTEREOTIPO 4details of their wardrobes.

Others insist on talking about the ‘secrets of girls’, ‘princess fashion’, or repeating that ‘boys are clever and girls are beautiful’ or that ‘girls love playing hard to get’.

Also there are few utility companies that do not use sexist propaganda, for example the scandal that hit the telephone company Claro in Costa Rica last year, after publishing that ‘a “no” from a woman comes from the Latin for “beg me a little more”’. Responding to this incident, the Ombudsman of this Central American country said in a statement that telecommunications companies “far from spreading stereotypes and symbolic messages of a sexist culture, should be backing cultural changes that reflect the dignity of women”.

According to the study The Liberal State and Sexual Discrimination in Costa Rica, from the second half of the nineteenth century female education was aimed at strengthening traditional values to make women “shapers of citizens”.

The intention was not to develop women to become citizens, but so they could better achieve their traditional role of educator in the home, whilst the man took care of finding provisions for the family.

MEDIOS MUJER ESTEREOTIPO 2Beliefs based on religious and sexist dogmas permeated the mentality of women and society in general from then on, despite some achievements in the political emancipation of women, mainly after recognising their right to vote in 1949.

A similar situation occurred in the rest of the continent, where the patriarchal influence keeps many women battling to achieve full acceptance of their right to make decisions about their own bodies and against the high levels of violence that they face.

MEDIOS MUJER ESTEREOTIPO 3This battle also involves educating the nation in relation to mass media and the constant displays of damage that many of these cause with their messages that discriminate on the grounds of sex, age, physical condition or unnatural beauty standards.

From 5 to 15 per cent of deaths from psychological illnesses are associated with personal image non-conformity, largely due to the media dictatorship’s influence in this area, according to reports from the World Health Organisation. (Jul 6, 2015 @ 15:11 ) (PL)

Photos: Pixabay  –  (Translated by Donna Davison – Email: donna_davison@hotmail.com)

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