The role of women and gender stereotypes portrayed in todays media is as prevalent as it has ever been. As much as we would like to think that society has made progress in dealing with the issue of gender equality, it’s seemingly not enough.
The most obvious case to look into, and one that we are all exposed to on a daily basis, is the representation of women in film and television. For years, women have reprised the acting role of the mother, the girlfriend, the quirky best friend, the “bitch”, the loving or victimised wife, the servant and those types of “personal, real-life roles”, which according to Variety’s article, accumulates 58% of women’s acting roles, compared to that of men’s at 31%. Sure we are starting to see leading female protagonists, such as Angelina Jolie in Maleficient and Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, with women attributing to 14% of box-office successes in 2014, but in the past decade, this statistic hasn’t changed much. With a drop of 3% since 2013, and a further 4% from 2002 (which is over a decade ago!!) it is difficult to comprehend how we can break through the barriers and maximise female authoritative characters.
Disney is a prime example of this. Growing up, I myself dreamed of becoming a Disney Princess,
I could never decide between Ariel and Sleeping Beauty! Tall and beautiful, slim body with big eyes, long, voluminous hair and of course, having a strong, ruggedly handsome Prince come to your rescue ( I WISH!). Young girls are taught to feel that this is real, that this is what life will be like for all of us. Disney’s contribution to this “sexist” perception of both men and women, has detrimental meaning for not only the children watching the movies, but also reiterates an ideal of what a woman’s place in the world should be and how they are to be perceived. Just take a look at the image below.
However, Disney ARE trying to adhere to today’s day and age, with characters such as ‘Elsa’ from Frozen, ‘Merida’ from Brave and ‘Tiana’ from Princess and the Frog showcasing themselves as strong, independent women (each with a diversified look) and ultimately becoming their own heroine. But unfortunately, this is only one step in a long journey.
Let’s not forget that Disney are only a small minority to the problem. We see over-sexualisation, misrepresentation and stereotypical views of girls and women in music videos, novels, magazines, even in journalism. A study conducted by the International Women’s Media Foundation, depicts that 36% of news reporters are female, with only 15% reporting politics, and 3% in sports (in the countries surveyed). The lack of women in prime positions within journalism is borderline bias and when it is our turn to run the show, sometimes what’s in the video below happens.
Nonetheless, the portrayal of women in the media still has a long way to go before everyone is satisified, and we get the recognition we deserve. It is up to society as a whole to work together to achieve this.