How does the media represent women

The dictionary definition of media is “means of mass communication e.g. Television, Radio and Newspapers.” The given examples are all good examples of businesses communicating with the general public and are part of everyday life. The media can portray many views about the way of life whether it social, religious or economical.

During the fifteen years of my life, I have experienced many situations where women have been represented as inferior to men. This started even when I was a little girl. While boys played with heroic figures such as Action Man and Power Rangers, my friends and I had to play with Barbie dolls, Baby All Gone and plastic kitchens pretending to cook food. This shows that influences from the past start to make an impact even at such a young age. The ideology “Women have to care for their babies and cook food for their husbands”, pervades society.

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Strong family traditions have followed down from my great grandmother which have changed the views I had on women. My great grandmother always thought women should never be educated and should learn to cook at the age of fourteen. My grandmother was not let out of the house after she started puberty. She learnt to cook when she was ten years old. This same family tradition had to be followed by my mother. She left school when she was thirteen and learnt how to manage a household at the age of nineteen. This is very good according to the elders of India but it is a severe disadvantage in the Western World.

The media has two general views of women. The first is as a typical housewife and the other is the sexy blonde girl. This housewife is chained to the kitchen sink and is always cleaning and cooking. These housewives can be seen in many different advertisements such as Fairy, Persil and the Sunny Delight adverts. In the given examples, women are perfect and are doing their usual household chores. Their means of washing up using Fairy or Persil is so cleverly portrayed by the woman that it persuades others to buy it.

In the advertisement for the product Shake ‘n’ Vac, you see a woman dancing and shaking Shake ‘n’ Vac and then vacuuming. When it comes to the more intelligent advertisements such as debt consolidation and finance, there is always a well dressed man who is very confident in himself.

We, as media users, have also seen the other perception of media makers which is the typical blonde sex kitten. They are seen as an object whose means is to satisfy men’s pleasures both at home doing chores and keeping the house tidy and in the bedroom providing them sexual enjoyment. Pop groups such as the Spice Girls and Atomic Kitten have been told to use their body form to attract male customers into buying their products such as posters and their albums. The tabloid newspaper, The Sun, also attracts male customers by using topless models on Page 3.

“Dirty Dancing” is a film directed by Emile Arddino and is produced by Vestron Pictures in 1987. The narrative of this film shows a talented, intense and handsome summer camp dance instructor played by Patrick Swayze and a molly coddled teenager named Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman. Baby is played by Jennifer Grey. It is a beautiful film showing Baby as a girl who needs everyone’s guidance and support.

The genre of this film is a ‘female orientated romantic fantasy’ and the audience is teenage girls mainly because of the deep romance the film portrays. It shows a sweet innocent girl who wants to become a dancer and consequently falls in love with her instructor.

The closing scene of this film can be analysed using one of the media concepts; construction. Construction covers a wide range: sound, camera angles, editing, lighting and mise en scene.

Most of the sound in this scene is digetic. This is because the only music you hear is the main song of the film and the actors’ speaking. The music playing in the background before they are on the stage represents ‘happy family’. It provides a sharp contrast to the music that they play later on. That music has a saxophone which connotes sex and passion.

Most of the camera angles in the closing scene of this film are medium long shots. AS Johnny onto the stage holding Baby’s hand, a ‘medium long shot’ is used so that we can see the majority of the action. Shot reverse shot is also used quite often so that we can see each of the character’s facial expression from each other’s points of view. Close up angles is used to show the deep, meaningful thoughts in their eyes.

In this final scene of “Dirty Dancing”, the editing techniques are both slow and fast. When Baby and Johnny have done their dance, he jumps off stage to dance down the aisle. This has been done because there is no tension therefore quick, sharp editing is not needed. The slow editing represents his break free from his controlled past life.

Colour is very important in all films but its importance is very significant in the closing scene of “Dirty Dancing”. Before Johnny and Baby appear on the stage, coloured lighting is not used so much. The hall is a natural colour but when they start their dance the stage is lit by a red light which signifies sexuality and passion. When he holds her very intimately, the light becomes even redder which represents the deep, strong passion and love they have for each other. Baby is wearing a white dress whereas he is wearing black clothes. This shows they are in contrast to each other but are like Ying and Yang therefore meaning they are ideal for each other.

Baby’s father wears a grey suit which is very neat indicating that he is very conservative and strict. He is a type of man who does not allow his daughter to date someone and restricts his daughter’s freedom totally.

Representation is one of the media concepts which has to be thought about very carefully as it is the one which puts across many ideas to viewers. The representation of this film is independence and this can be seen in many of Baby’s actions. The most significant action is her position of a bird. This shows that she is flying high and far away from her problems and her previous life. When she is in that position of a bird, he holds her up very high representing that he will support her all the way. As like the gymnastics game where you fall back hoping your partner will catch you, Baby has put all of her trust on Johnny. As she is above him now, it shows that she has gained the well deserved equality of their love.

In this closing scene of “Dirty Dancing”, Baby wears a diaphanous white dress which with the aid of coloured light turns very pinky reflecting flesh tones. This quite noticeable when he feels down her side and she is dancing. She is always swooshing her skirt to and fro indicating that she does not care what her parents think anymore. Another thing which is also noticeable is that she has her hair down in this finale. Before this and when they were practising, Baby always has her hair tied up but in this final scene, she lets her hair down representing that she does not care what anyone says, she is going to live for herself and not for anyone else. At the end of their dance sequence, her mother and father start dancing indicating that she has been accepted as their changed ‘new’ daughter.

The main ideology that this films portrays is that a woman needs a man in from beginning to end. Another ideology is that love conquers all as the final scene shows everybody’s love for each other- mother and father’s love for their daughter, Baby’s love for Johnny, Johnny’s love for his Baby and his dancing career and so forth. The third ideology is that fathers need to let their daughters free and let them be independent. Because Baby was let free, she was able to find a new born talent inside- dancing.

The second piece of media text that I am going to analyse is the new Nissan Micra advertisement using the slogan “Ask before you borrow it” to sell its product. The advertisement shows a woman holding a can of Chunky Dog Food while there is a man eating at a table. You cannot see the face of the woman but you can see the face of her man- a miserable but angry face clenching his fists.

The background story to this advertisement is that the husband has borrowed his wife’s car without asking therefore instead of his usual dinner, she has fed him dog food. The slogan “Ask before you borrow it” gives us an idea of what is happening.

The camera angle used to shoot this advertisement is a big close up shot combined with a long angle shot. The use of this specific shot focuses on the tin of dog food as it is placed at eye level .The low angle shot is looking upwards making the woman look more dominant. Your eye straight away is drawn to the Chunky dog food as it has been placed at eye level. You look at the dog food first and then look at the background picture. You then notice the woman’s bottom.

The picture of the woman takes up most of the space in the advertisement. The text is very small compared to the picture. The text which is visible is the slogan- “Ask before you borrow it”, “Chunky Beef” and the small print which reads- “for you Micra revenge pack call 0891 230023”. This has been done because the advertisement makers want you to look at the picture first and then connect the slogan with it.

The advert would appeal to all woman car users especially those which already own a car. This is because they can use it to show what will happen if you use my car! The advert would also appeal to female car buyers as it suggests how they should treat their car and how they should value it. The advertisement reverses the whole concept of women being inferior to men and that men can do anything without having the need to tell their women. The story can be interpreted as a story to men the revenge women can take if they have an affair or do something without their women knowing.

Both of these media texts have portrayed women in two different ways. In the film “Dirty Dancing” Baby is seen as a girl who has to listen to men and do what they say. She is represented as a very weak girl both physically and emotionally. Her feelings for her dance instructor override her control and leave her in a situation where she has to decide between parents and love.

Time has changed and women have learnt to stand up for themselves. If Margaret Thatcher did not go to school but stayed at home and had children, she would have not become the world’s first woman prime minister. The Pankhurst sisters were able to prove that women have the same strength as men and that we can do anything they can do.

Women will always be seen as sexual objects as in the Nissan Micra adverts but the media should try to avoid portraying them as inferior to men because without even us realising the media forms our views on society. Men and women all have equal rights and men should remember that without women, men would not even exist!

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