The change in time and events from a conventional world to one that is sophisticated and modern has been accompanied by changes in representation of masculinity and femininity. This is with regard to how the contemporary media represents both man and woman and its position on this.
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Contrary to the conventional style of representation where the woman was overshadowed by the man, she is now gaining representation in a powerful and autonomic manner that reveals her self-confidence. This paper will bring into light the changing, as well as the adamant phenomenon of representation of masculinity and femininity by the contemporary media.
How Contemporary Media represents Masculinity and Femininity
The great shift to contemporary visual media has been accompanied by a change in the representation of women. According to the contemporary media, the woman is faced with a lot of responsibilities which she must see to it that they are all handled accordingly. As a result the media has brought out the woman as one who is faced with a lot of challenges, making it difficult for her to live up to other people’s expectations.
However, it has been shown that, amidst their dilemmas, women resort to traditional intervention with regard to femininity for a solution. Different articles will explain the different ways which women act in relation to femininity. Men on the other hand have always taken up the authoritarian role that depicts power and strength (Leavy, Gnong and Andrea 261-292).
Typical images of the modern woman, for instance pop stars like Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez represent a unique kind of femininity. In this kind of representation, the woman is independent and entitled to her own life. This shows the liberation of women while compared to what was previously the perception of femininity where the woman stayed at home to look after her children and husband. Now, the woman has become more educated and liberated, but the main theme of femininity that has not changed a single bit is beauty.
Contemporary media has given the picture of a woman as one who is adventurous, and in so doing has continued to encourage this kind of behavior. This woman is able to capture the best man who is sexually desirable. She then retains this man as long as he is interesting. This kind of woman will also be seen pursuing a great career at the same time.
This is a demonstration of the change in representation of femininity in contemporary media which in other words can be considered to be cosmopolitan. It is very different from the traditional method of representation of women as wives and mothers. It is therefore clear that great changes have occurred and transformed the perception of women by the media (Leavy, Gnong and Andrea 261-292).
The representations of masculinity and femininity by the media are constantly changing and so are the perceptions. The change in representation is what leads to the change in perception as the media is very powerful in influencing people’s attitudes. Previously, the woman was represented as a submissive and obedient wife and mother.
Currently, this is not the case as women strive to gain equality with regard to gender. Men on the other hand were represented as having power and authority over the woman. This representation has however changed as men have turned out to become violent so as to acquire hegemony, which is linked to masculinity (Andersen and Gray 446-450).
Contemporary media may have a negative impact on the representation of the woman and associated femininity. For example, the implications of the media on pornography tend to have a negative impact on the women as opposed to men whose hegemony is very evident. The contemporary media fosters growth and availability of pornographic materials.
However, as pornography grows, so does its violent nature that is entailed in its content. The video, which is the latest kind of contemporary media, shows very sad sexual fantasies. The perception brought out by this kind of representation is cruelty and unfriendliness to the femininity of women but on the other hand, encourages dominance by the man. This dominance has been portrayed through activities of sexual molestation (Andersen and Gray 446-450).
Femininity and masculinity are two different kinds of images which are seen to vary considerably. The femininity of a woman in contemporary media is shown through pictures that bring out the beauty and attractiveness of the woman. The appearance of a woman in enhancing her femininity in certain jobs especially in the tourism industry is very important.
The femininity of a woman is portrayed by her feminine appearance. A feminine appearance requires the woman to make her hair, wear make-up and suitable uniform that enhance her femininity. This is opposed to men whose attractiveness or masculinity with regard to the physical body is not required for the application or maintenance of a job.
Irrespective of the empowerment that women have obtained, the media still maintains a position of hegemony with regard to gender. An example of this is where, irrespective of the masculine women like Cristina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy and feminine males like George O’Malley, conventional gender expectations are very evident, representing either femininity or masculinity.
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This can be argued from the point that women continue to be attractive even if they tend to drift towards masculinity. On the other hand, the masculinity aspect among men who try to act in a feminine way is dominant thus will persist (Leavy, Gnong and Andrea 261-292).
Contemporary media has used the mind-body dichotomy to bring out differences between men and women and associated masculinity and femininity respectively. This aspect of body and mind is seen to create disparity between masculinity and femininity. Masculinity places a lot of emphasis on the mind while femininity is all about the body.
A quote from Bartky Sandra “Woman’s space is not a field in which her bodily intentionality can be freely realized but an enclosure in which she feels herself positioned and by which she is confined” depicts this (cited in Leavy, Gnong and Andrea 261-292).
The concept of women’s space is taken to bring out a common idea of enclosed space. It could mean power or lack of power. This space could also be a symbolic representation of the woman’s body as it is perceived to be associated with gender performance. On the other hand, the masculinity of men is not confined to their bodies.
It entails attitudes, ability to think and perception. The dichotomy used reveals that as opposed to women, the masculinity of men is more realized by their ability to hold power and think wisely as opposed to a woman whose femininity is in her beauty (Andersen and Gray 446-450).
The media is actively involved in representation of both men and women in the content of masculinity and femininity respectively. The perception of masculinity and femininity will continue changing for as long the media keeps on changing the representations of both men and women. Despite the changing representations, one thing is for sure, femininity of a woman with regard to beauty can never change. On the other side, masculinity and power are inseparable.
Andersen, Robin & Gray, Jonathan (Eds). Battleground: The Media. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2008.
Leavy, Patricia, Gnong, Andrea & Ross, Lauren. “Femininity, Masculinity, and Body Image Issues and College-Age Women: An In-depth and Written Interview Study of the Mind-Body Dichotomy”. Qualitative Report, 2009 (14), 261-292,
1. O’ Barr, William. Representations of Masculinity and Femininity in Advertisements. Advertising Educational Foundation, 2006.
The article by O’Barr on representations of masculinity and femininity, asserts that advertisements that are represented by the media form a strong ground for emulation and reaction by the concerned parties.
The relevance of this article with regard to the topic at hand is brought about in its explanation of what is entailed in masculinity and femininity. Masculinity is associated with power, virility, competitiveness, strength and athleticism. Femininity on the other hand is related to nurturance, beauty, cooperation and submissiveness.
The article argues that both men and women indulge in different activities that reveal their femininity or masculinity. The woman will bring out her femininity through her beauty and provocative postures that lay much emphasis on her sexuality. The femininity of a woman is used to show beauty, attractiveness, passiveness and cooperation.
Masculinity on the other hand is associated with aggression, power and strength. Among other aspects of masculinity and femininity that will change, the ones mentioned above are inherent as they are used to define the difference between a man and a woman.
It is very clear that both men and women have different roles to play in order to show their masculinity and femininity respectively as represented by different kinds of media. It is worth noting the masculinity and femininity begins at birth after determining the sex of a child. The media has been used to enhance this difference by demonstrating the different ways through which a woman can show her femininity. In addition, it has been applied to represent and show how masculinity is manifested in men (O’ Barr 213-221).
2. Millington, Bradley. Learning Masculinities: Youth, the Media, and Physical Education. Queen’s University, 2004.
According to the article by Millington, the media is filled with stereotypes about men and masculinity. This is especially true with reference to violent videos and movies. Since time in memorial, man has always been regarded as the greater sex. Contemporary media represents masculinity in terms of violence.
Men have been seen to engage in violent and brutal acts in an attempt to bring out their masculinity. This may not work well for the young males as they will adopt this kind of behavior too. In a bid to reveal and show their masculinity, cases of violence against women will continue to prevail for as long the media will place masculinity in close link with violence.
This research article is relevant to the topic as it shows how masculinity is represented by the media in the form of violence. This raises a lot of concern on how the young males and females will perceive the different representations by the media. The contemporary media is involved in presenting stereotypes on what is entailed in masculinity and femininity.
The media presents the woman as one who is submissive and in so doing, embraces culture in the view of femininity. On the other hand the highly upheld and believed concept of hegemony with regard to masculinity is represented. However, the current position of both masculinity and femininity is not that which alienates femininity from masculinity as the search of equality continues to be contentious.
This article raises concerns with reference to the perception of representation of masculinity versus femininity by the media. This is because the young people will be greatly influenced by the media to the extent that they will tend to follow what is represented in the media.
The media has always been considered to have a very great impact on the people. This comes about due to misunderstanding that revolves around the issue of representation of masculinity and femininity by the media. This is explained by the fact that people are easily carried away by the media and will tend to follow what the media shows regardless of whether it is favorable or not (Millington, 23-45).
Millington, Bradley. Learning Masculinities: Youth, the Media, and Physical Education. Queen’s University, 2004.
O’ Barr, William. Representations of Masculinity and Femininity in Advertisements. Advertising Educational Foundation, 2006.