Women still misrepresented, discriminated and excluded in news media
By Elizabeth Casella, Managing Editor
Women form 50.8 percent of the population in the United States of America. In society though in many ways women are still seen and treated as a minority group. In the case of media this is still heavily an issue. Although women have made great strides toward equality in recent years they continue to experience misrepresentation and underrepresentation in the modern day media.
Not only do media corporations perpetrate unhelpful stereotypes and scrutinize women in sexist ways, but also the media industry itself is lacking in women and undoubtedly, even if they don’t mean to be, is sexist. For example inquiriesjournal.com points out at the CBS Evening News, 29 percent of the stories are given to women reporters to cover while the rest of covered by men. The stories that typically feature women are those involving accidents, natural disasters or domestic violence.
Women in politics are similarly pushed to the side. Politically active women are typically focused on for their domestic aspects rather than her actual position on issues or her policies. Instead of this media talks about how she had high heels in her bag as she walked to work or if she is considered for being lady like or not at all times.
First off, these women politicians have private lives where they may not always fit a professional criteria and that should be off limits and second it is incredibly offensive that these topics would even be brought up. Therefore she should be talked about when it comes to her policies, stances on issues and influence in her job; that is it. That is all that is mainly discussed when talking about male politicians. The same respect should be given to the women.
Behind the desk
Addressing the issue facing female reporters brings up a completely different issue. Women journalists are put on the lighter feature stories or disasters such as natural or violence because they are seen as being more delicate. It gives sensitivity to the story while a male figure may not and makes it more compassionate. That is fine and all, but women should be able to get just as many of the hard-hitting stories as well to balance this out.
Women should not be counted out for their brains either. It always seems that the news is looking for beauty before brains. An extreme example of this is Greta Van Susteren who moved from CNN to Fox in early 2002. During the move she got a makeover and went to the extreme to have her face surgically altered to appear younger and more beautiful. When her new show aired her hair was always perfectly coiffed and she sat behind a table, instead of a desk like many male figures, so that her short skirt and legs could be shown. It is outrageous that she had to literally alter her face for a show and then was shown in a “sexier” manner. She is an incredibly intelligent woman and should be respected for her brains, not because she has an attractive body or face.
Most media outlets also lack in women experts for their stories. The amount of men that are experts in the business field, sports, medicine or any other field one brings up is astoundingly higher than women. According to the Women’s Media Center, on Sunday talk shows on TV women comprise only 14 percent of those interviewed and 29 percent of roundtable guests. There is also a margin of nearly 3 to 1 regarding male front-page bylines at the top of newspapers outnumbered females bylines. Men are also far more likely to be quoted than females in newspapers, television and public radio. The number of women in key roles at newspaper is significantly lower and continuing to drop each year. The numbers continue on and on regarding women lacking in all of the fields of media and in entertainment media such as producing shows, directing or writing.
It is unacceptable the way women are not only treated in media, but exemplified as well. Without trying women are still objectified from the clothes they are subjected to wear on a broadcast or the way the media coverage portrays them from a personal side instead of their professional views. It also objectifies women as being the victim most of the time or exemplifies their family life when it is not needed. The gender gap in this field is astounding and needs to be rectified. It is not simply OK to ignore these injustices and continue to view women as delicate flowers that can’t handle the hard news or objectify them in an image of dainty or more delicate on camera. Equal opportunities in all fields are a must, but especially in media.
The horrific views that objectifying women for sexual means or to get more viewers is never OK. Women are not the victim or some mannequin to take advantage of for their beauty or their legs. Women are just as serious as men in their professions and should be treated as such.