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Global Media’s Portrayal of Race and Gender Essay

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Updated: Sep 16th, 2022

From the very beginning of its functioning, the media have been a place for identifying and regulating opinions, views, and beliefs. The emerging stereotypes in journalistic materials are directly related to the subsequent formation of stereotypes in the mass consciousness. Being a social institution, the media form the gender attitudes of women and men and prescribe certain gender roles to them (Trebbe et al., 2017). The media also plays a huge role in shaping racial stereotypes. Unfortunately, most of the media globally highlight gender and racial issues incorrectly, regardless of thematic priorities, format, editorial policy, and other factors (Bhatia et al., 2018). This paper aims to analyze the media’s portrayal of race and gender across the globe.

The most striking examples of the stereotyping role of the mass media are questions about gender and problems of minorities. Stereotypical gender images in the media are stable and generalized representations of the mass consciousness about the social functions and models of behavior of men and women, expressed in visual and verbal images (Saleem et al., 2017). The mass media of large cities around the world use them to manipulate people’s ideas about what a woman should be.

Many authors agree that recently the images of women and men in the media have been presented in many ways, and in the modern media space, there is a transformation of gender stereotypes. In recent decades, the feminization of newspapers and magazines has grown in major cities (Bhatia et al., 2018). However, a whole complex of stereotypical ideas about the social functions of women continues to exist and are formed in the media.

A patriarchal assessment of the role of men and women is still traced in the media in different countries. The image of a woman is most often presented in two main forms: a mother and a wife. A woman in the media is associated with sexuality, excessive attention to her appearance, a desire to take care of her husband and children, a complete lack of ambition and interest in social activities. The images of working women are extremely stereotyped; they are segregated by profession and age, especially in the Muslim media (Saleem et al., 2017). Professional achievements are necessarily supported by the remarks about a woman’s appearance or the fact that she combines her duties as an employee with those of a wife and a mother. This is a global tendency that is characteristic of both developed and developing countries.

Regarding the image of Muslim women, Western media use the method of selectivity and bias, condemning hijab, polygamy, and gender division. The criterion for criticism is the authority of the sociocultural model that has formed in Western countries (Terman, 2017). The formation of a Western socio-cultural model, within which there are regular attacks on a Muslim woman, has occurred as a result of the formation of the ideological basis of the Western world. For example, the image of a Muslim woman in the UK media is associated exclusively with submissiveness (Terman, 2017). The UK media uses excuses for historical incidents of violence and discrimination against Muslim women and creates a negative image of this particular group.

Another type of biases in the mass media is ethnic or racial stereotypes. A lot of attention is paid to national issues of every country, and ethnic information is massively projected in all kinds of media around the world. Racial stereotypes occupy a central place in the system of manipulative propaganda since they block human rational abilities and reveal a complex of negative emotions, such as the feelings of fear, distrust, and hostility (Trebbe et al., 2017). Numerous works devoted to ethnic stereotypes in the mass media point to the extremely negative influence of the press on ethnic issues. It forms negative stereotypes and is responsible for distorted perceptions of migrants all around the world.

Historically, the US English-speaking media portrayed ethnic mentality primarily for an English-speaking audience through the prism of entertainment through cartoons and satirical stories. For example, the most persistent stereotypes about Hispanics created by the English-language media are a lazy Mexican and a servant, but the most common and destructive is the image of the violent criminal (Bhatia et al., 2018). The history of these stereotypes is rooted in the history of US literature and entertainment media. In addition to stereotypes in literature and cinema, English-language media have long presented Hispanics as a threat to English-speaking society.

However, unlike movies, these reports were presented in the form of facts to make them more realistic. The essence of these reports was to show that the English-speaking Americans are liberators, called upon by fate to bring Western civilization and enlightenment, while other races were seen as inferior (Budarick & Han, 2017). This position is rooted in the idea of American exceptionalism, which is based on the assertion that the United States has a special place among other countries.

Hispanic men are often portrayed as violent barbarians, and Latin American women in Hollywood films are invariably hypersexual, for example, in “The Cuban Love Song”, “The Girl from Mexico”, “From Dusk Till Dawn”, “Californication”, and others. Another image of Hispanic women is that of housewives with no self-esteem, which can be seen in the following movies: “The Goonies”, “Storytelling”, “Crash”, and others. The problem with this portrayal of women is the lack of respect they deserve (Budarick & Han, 2017). In all these films, the images of ethnic minorities are united by the fact that they are shown as outsiders, people of the second class.

Regarding the stereotypical portrayal of black people, during many centuries, African Americans were depicted globally as lazy, loving fun, fights, and inclined to crime people. The media wanted to show that an African American female could never compete with a white one. A black woman was often presented as stupid, not educated, and tastelessly dressed. Based on those stereotypes, myths about standard behavior, habits, and inclinations of African Americans were created (Budarick & Han, 2017).

Globalization at the information level has transformed the transfer of these cultural models into cultural expansion, as a result of which the formation of cultural stereotypes can be noticed. This fact indicates the emergence of the problem of cultural compatibility and the issue of consonance of the mental structures of interacting cultures, which is becoming one of the most urgent in the modern world.

Modern media is already more than just a structure that produces content and more than a system for its distribution. Persistent stereotypes can create profound contradictions at the interpersonal, intergroup, and international levels. Journalists are not passive fixers of events; while covering the same situation, they see it and write about it differently. Many factors play an important role in the creation of media images. Social stereotypes existing in a given society distinguish categories of social groups and phenomena, dividing social reality into friends and aliens. Thus, the task of modern journalism is to avoid the use of stereotypes, reflecting new and characteristic phenomena of the era. The most objective, neutral reflection of reality, independent of personal and corporate interests, external and internal circumstances is the main task of mass media around the world.

References

Bhatia, M., Poynting, S., & Tufail, W. (Eds.). (2018). Media, crime and racism. Springer.

Budarick, J., & Han, G. S. (Eds.). (2017). Minorities and media: producers, industries, audiences. Springer.

Saleem, N., Hanan, M. A., & Arshad, A. (2017). Media representation of women, children and minority rights: Pakistani public response. Journal of Political Studies, 24(1).

Terman, R. (2017). Islamophobia and media portrayals of Muslim women: A computational text analysis of US news coverage. International Studies Quarterly, 61(3), 489-502.

Trebbe, J., Paasch‐Colberg, S., Greyer, J., & Fehr, A. (2017). Media representation: Racial and ethnic stereotypes. The International Encyclopedia of Media Effects, 1-9.

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