Role Models for Women-Does It Matter?

I was asked this question recently by a TV researcher who was following up on a news story for a serious documentary programme. As the story was about the type of pictures put out in the media for young girls, I’m not sure if that is news as it seems to me that’s been a problem since a certain newspaper discovered the selling power of page 3.

I digress. My response was while I find these sexualised images continually promoted to young girls (and boys) utterly appalling, the problem is wider.

The problem is gender inequality across the piece.

I summed it up by suggesting the researcher play the alien game. Pretend you are an alien and want to know a bit more about the culture of the U.K. Grab a handful of newspapers and take a quick look through them. How many positive images of women do you see?

As I was speaking to her I picked up a copy of a ‘quality newspaper’. Men outnumbered women by about a ratio of 8 to 2 and didn’t feature on the serious politics page at all, not even Angela Merkel on this particular day. That is, until I reached the fashion and celebrity pages when they predominated. Onto sport, a proportionately large section of the newspaper. Oh what a surprise. On that day not one women featured. A whole section of the newspaper where women do not feature at all. You’d have to conclude that women do not participate in games, only men are allowed to do this.

That’s the message we are giving our youth, boys and girls. Both genders need to see positive images reflected in the media if we are ever to address the issues of inequality. And just maybe as the boys grow into men they will also start to complain about the way 50% of the population is represented in the media. It’s insulting and offensive to all of us yet it’s so all pervading that half the time most of us don’t even notice.

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Posted on September 3rd, 2012 by

2 Responses to “Role Models for Women-Does It Matter?”

  1. Rose Hiron-Grimes says:

    I just signed the petition to try to stop The Sun from showing topless models. I agree with all of the points above but one of the other issues I have is with the lack of normalisation of breastfeeding. By seeing boobs as only sexual features of a woman, people become less accepting of breastfeeding – which is of course, what they are designed for. I would be happy for my daughter to see boobs but only if they are doing what they are meant to be doing – feeding and nourishing a child; not for men to ogle!

    • Jane says:

      Excellent point Rose. I remember when I was breastfeeding (admittedly some years ago!) someone tutting at me and I was in my own home!

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