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Essay on The Marginality of Women in the Media

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Historically, women have been marginalized and underrepresented in many areas of the mass media, most predominately advertising. Billions of dollars annually are allocated for businesses in marketing schemes and advertising. They include subliminal messages, which most likely are geared directly at a particular gender. With society becoming more aware of the influence of the mass media, and exposure increasing, inaccurate views of gender continue to twist reality by altering viewer perception. These gender stereotypes, both visible and invisible, need to halt the casting of women in traditional and inferior roles, and begin placing them in equal roles comparable to that of their male counterparts.

When one thinks of the decades of feminist mobility, there is a definite degree of gratitude. In the past 40 years the roles of women have changed dramatically, thanks in part to activists, lobbyists, and women everywhere. However, there is a definite need for change in the world of advertisement. As one of the largest media outlets, it connects to millions of women daily, most being young women. In being our next generation, the idea of equality in sex needs to be instilled early to counteract the stereotypes of the media. According to Jean Kilbourne in her book, Deadly Persuasion, the media has "made possible a kind of national peer pressure that erodes private and individual values and standards" (Kilbourne, 1999: 129). These new values are destroying a young woman's authentic self, in a sense she is selling herself into the media's stereotype. Women have become objectified in advertising at a very young age.

Take for example, Mattel's world of Barbie and friends. Since her development in the late 1950's Barbie has become ...


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...s that "ads don't directly cause violence . . . but the violent images contribute to the state of terror" (Kilbourne, 1999: 278).

With advertising reaching millions of possible consumers every day, the need for sexual equality in commercialism becomes an even more important cause. Even though stereotyping is common does not earn it the right to be acceptable. Stereotyping causes society to make false judgments on people because of their race, ethnicity, or even sex. Even Vincent Parillo, author of Strangers to These Shores, believes that "advertising fosters an inescapable, poisonous environment in which sexist stereotypes, cynicism and self-hatred, and the search for quick fixes flourish" (Parillo, 2006: 85). Stereotyping is a definite negative to the development of modern society. It should be handled with the utmost care in hopes that it will someday end.



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