The Construction of Women in Media

The media alone can create certain schemas inside a person’s mind. I am a woman, yet there are thoughts that I have when I think about women as a whole that are not necessarily true. They are just how the media depicts women, and how women as a group are portrayed to others and to ourselves. In class we were separated into groups where each group chose a manilla folder that had a topic written on it. The topics were women, men, Islam, sex, and health. My group chose the folder on women, and inside were four different articles that each focused on women as the topic of discussion.

The article that I received to look over was about all of the things you need to know if you love a woman. The article was basically a list of things that men needed to know in order to deal with women. It was written by a woman, which says a lot about how women view each other. The second article was titled 40 Things I Learned in 40 Years and was a list of forty lessons that a forty year-old woman learned from her life and experiences. The article was border-line depressing to read, and had a lot of repeating elements of putting yourself first, not men, and focusing on your career. The woman who wrote the article seemed kind of like she was giving others a list of things to do so that they don’t end up at forty with regrets like the writer did. The next article was written by a man and was about dealing with his wife, and the final article consisted of pictures that signified women. The pictures were of scales, women with low self esteem, men taking care of them, shoes, fruity cocktails, and anything else it seemed they could thing of to demean women.

From the packet we were given, my group came up with a list of factors that were present, and common in all of the articles, even the ones that were written by women themselves. The list of common factors began with emotional, which was the most blaring factors throughout each. The list of common factors that we found just from the four representations of media that we had were emotional, love-oriented, focused on appearance, weak minded, fragile, family driven/oriented, bad with money, dependent, and impressionable. Out of this list that we came up with, we separated the list into two categories; strong points and weak points. The factors where placed according to how often the appeared.

Strong: emotional, appearance is everything, love-oriented, fragile, family driven/oriented, impressionable, and relying on support from all loved ones

Weak: bad with money, career-driven, looking for youth, dependent on men

The weak list were factors that were only mentioned once, or that were hinted at. I found it interesting that a lot of things that associate with items on the strong list were never mentioned in any of the articles. This includes, health, women of different sexual orientations, and life goals. Is the media portraying that women do not care about their careers or goals? Why are only heterosexual women portrayed? A huge one that stood out for me is that health is never mentioned, yet weight, and body shape was mentioned repeatedly. There were even images of scales, and women looking in mirrors and seeing altered perceptions. The media often portrays women with unrealistic body images, and in all of these articles it is never mentioned a healthy weigh at obtaining the shape you want, or being healthy on the inside rather than the outside. Not even in the article about the 40 Things a woman Learned in 40 Years. It was shocking, and leads me to conclude that the way women are constructed in media is inaccurate, and negative for the schemas that both women and men have on women as a whole.

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