The media refers to various communication channels through which education, promotional messages, education and news are disseminated. The media include broadcasting medium such as newspapers, television, billboards, telephones, internet, magazines, radio, direct mail and fax (Okazaki & Hirose, 2009). Some of the specialized mass media in the communication sector include photography, cinema, publishing, print media and press, advertising and radio and television broadcasting. The revolution in telecommunication has greatly improved long distance communication by proving new media that allows fast delivery of messages. The media are broadly divided into two that is analog telecommunication encompassing radio and telephony system and the historical television broadcast. On the other hand, digital telecommunication arose from the revolutionizing analog media to pave way for the telegraphy, computer networks and the computer-mediated communication (Herring, 2004). In term of photography, the digital photography can easily be altered through editing unlike the analog photos. Another difference is that the analog communication system favored one-to-many communication like cinema, newspaper, social media, television, radio and magazine unlike modern digital media that allows many-to-many communication via the internet and teleportation.
Modern changes in media
It is reported that there is growing usage in the electronic media that is attributed to decreased price of smartphones, tablets and laptops (Kobus, Rietveld & Van Ommeren, 2013). However, the use of digital media has distracted face-to-face communication among the youths, families and the society. there has been mixed reaction regarding the use of internet as mode of communication. According to Leung and Lee (2005), the majority of internet users reported that the internet has improved the quality and connection to friends. The youths, who are the majority users of social media have greatly welcomed the increased internet connectivity. Similarly, the employed internet users are in agreement that the internet has increased their ability to work at home as a result they have quality time with their families as well as avoiding distraction caused by travelling (Emmanouilides & Hammond, 2000).
In the current century, the electronic forms of media come in form of laptops, cell phones, DVDs, radios, tablets, desktops, mp3 players, game systems and the television. The technology has changed dynamic of communication including release of new media that are more efficient compared to predecessors. In modern terms, the media include the software that enhances the performance of the computer or phone (Patterson & Hennessy, 2013). The storage media is also increasing becoming smaller with higher storage capacity, due to the inclusion of the magnetic strip. The fastest growing field of technology is the use of IT in the banking sector and governmental tax departments to enhance service delivery to the customers.
The impact of communication
There has been great social impact of media and technology is currently applied in almost every aspect of life including medicine, agriculture, education, transport and communication. The schools have played significant role in instilling knowledge to allow students use various media tools. The internet is indisputably the most effective tool in communication as it has created online communities by use of tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Telegram, Skype, WhatsApp and email among others to bring people closer (Cahyani et al., 2017).
The businesses are not left behind in media, as they employ media to enhance business operations. The advertisement media is employed to drive consumer related strategies by use of both print and electronic media like television and newspapers. Furthermore, it has increased the number of businesses conducted online where the buyers and sellers meet. The majority of large companies in the US like Amazon, allowing customer to view products and make purchase online by use of various electronic modes of payment. Another important role of media is the sharing of information around the globe. It is reported that media has important role in building connections between culture, economic life, politics and the society (Castells, 2010). For instance, the newspapers have played significant role in disseminating up-to-date information on current national economic status of countries and foreign affairs.
The media breaks national barriers as it allows access of information from any part of the world within the shortest time. There have been many lobby groups that are advocating the use of technology as a way of ensuring fair and equal access of knowledge since the constitution guarantees the right to information in the bill of rights (Peled & Rabin, 2010). The internet has been the major interest since it allows publication of information that can be accessed and read by everyone. Furthermore, internet is suggested to help in contributing solution to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries since it allow sharing of information enabling countries to learn from each other (Lavis et al., 2010). It is believed that the increasing cases of poor relation between countries is attributed to lack of transparency in information since the developed countries tend to impose their ideas on the third world countries. The internet is the only major way of re-establishing balance in relations by proving a system that protect people’ culture and customs. Furthermore, media in modern communication can help in enhancing dissemination of knowledge across different parts of the world without any form of discrimination (Sunderland et al., 2009).
Feminism in media
Mass media has significant role in building democratic society where men and women have equal rights. The involvement of women in media is one way of raising women’s legal awareness to promote development of modern democratic states. The women in media can use various ways like social, philosophical, political, psychological and economic means for advocating awareness of basic rights of every woman. The media can therefore speed up reforms in various spheres where women have been neglected like politics and employment (Casey, 2013). There has been a number of international conventions that help in publicizing a need to change the media policy to help break public stereotypes directed against women. This is because the mass media has continually produce discriminatory stereotypes that portray women in sexist ways. The fictional media portray women as sex objects while the news reporting media often see women as inferior lacking roles in most reporting (Daniels, 2009).
If you can evaluate various programs run in most national televisions across the world, the women do not appear as expert or actor. One of the main contributing factor is the underrepresentation of women in media since small number of women exist in this sphere compared to male counterparts (Collins, 2011). The women only play significant role advertising and magazines where it is believed to have beauty that meet accepted standards of attracting the attention of target audience (Baker, 2005). With this regard, women appearing in adverts and magazines is usually associated with sex objects (Thomsen, Bower & Barnes, 2004). Many researchers studying stereotypes and images of women in media have come to conclusion that femininity and masculinity are cultural rather than biological constructs that can easily be changed (Berger, Wallis & Watson, 2012). In the past centuries, the media was managed exclusively by men however the women images tailored for men’s preferences. The feminist media studies have criticized portraying women as objects since most adverts and media reveal discriminator nature of women’s image. The recent studies have further revealed that most television programs do not reflect gender roles of women in the real life. The entertainment programs are worst in that the depict women as decorative objects (Van Zoonen, 2002). This calls for need to create awareness on equal rights and elimination of stereotyping women in media since women are capable of achieving financial independence.
Despite media today associating femininity with powerful and independent women, there is still significant usage of qualities that play roles in shaping negative femininity. Some of the important qualities in advertisements include visual appearance, prominent breast, huge thighs and slender long leg that promote objectification of women’s bodies (Berberick, 2010). The women in media have their character largely influenced by beauty myth that the society view the mentioned features making women more beautiful. The increased number of models across the world has further accelerated stereotyping of women since the models strive to transom women image through technical means to enhance their beauty. This happens especially when women are attending important functions such as political events, awards, acting in movies of appearing in television or other major public events.
Reasons for discriminative images of women in media
The discriminative images of women in the media is attributed to the fact that most of the media products are created by men. The study by Collins (2011) indicated that women in the news media are still facing huge problems in achieving equality. The study revealed that women only takes about a third of employees in the companies that participated in the study. Interestingly, the developing countries have fair share in almost achieving equality in top most managerial positions. Unfortunately, having women in top positions of media corporations has not changed the negative imaging of women in media (Baker, 2005).
The social scientists have reported that when women are the only agents to bring change in media industry, then the rate of success is minimal (Collins, 2011). The women in top managerial positions of media houses should undergo professional training to help in better decision making that favors decrease in the production of sexist images of women. The women lacking awareness of media gender-sensitive policies are unable to fight stereotyping of women. The poor representation of women in media can be alleviated by adopting best employment practices that allows women and men to have equal employment opportunities in media corporations.
Major problems of women in media
The status of women in media industry seems to worsen year by year. The women have lost ground in most of developing countries where women are still considered inferior to women. The achievement of real gender parity has been challenging for the US since the veteran journalist’s positions are usually taken by men. The study conducted in Armenia indicates that women takes less than 30% of media camera time during news broadcasting (Torchin, 2006). Furthermore, some of the prominent media corporations like the New York Times still have the majority of journalist consisting of males (67%) (Alter, 2015).
There is stereotyping that women cannot report ‘hard news’ like huge political contestation, reporting on wars and major calamities like earthquakes and flood due to societal notion that women are weak and don’t have brevity to face challenging situations (Ross & Carter, 2011). Example in this case is covering of the US presidential elections where the males dominates sector by reporting over 60% of the political stories (Norris, 2002). Furthermore, women journalist involved in science, sports and criminal justice news coverage still remains low in most parts of the world. Significant improvement has only been attained in the coverage of education and lifestyle related news coverages. Unequal representation of both genders in editorial teams and news discussion contribute to opinions of commentators being a male thing. The talk-shows are dominated by males enhancing societal myth that men have a bigger say in current affairs (Shattuc, 2014).
The major film corporations in the US like Hollywood have top executive positions occupied by preferably white men. As a result, the minority groups and women are underrepresented when recruiting actresses and actors. The speaking parts have male being dominating while the women are introduced as character that beautify the scene. Similarly, middle east countries have low number of women as producers, cinematographers, editors, directors and writers thus promoting feminism in live shows and films (Dönmez-Colin, 2007).
There is great potential to remove stereotyping women in the media. This call for concerted effect among different players in public and private sectors. Some of the solutions offered for challenging feminism are discussed below.
- Division of labor
There is need to ensure that there is gender equality in domestic and office jobs. This is particularly challenging for the developing countries in Africa where women’s roles revolve around domestic chores like child rearing, farming, fetching water and firewood and preparing meals for the family (Hyder et al., 2005). It is believed that feminism started when the women’s role is confined to kitchen and housework compared to male counterparts who occupied workplace roles. To increase number of women taking jobs in workplace, there is need to improve education for the girl child. Subrahmanian (2005) suggested that education is the only effective solution for ensuring gender parity and ensuring that women are socially and financially stable.
- The media
The women in media has great potential for fighting the vice. The media has big role in persuading the public to dissociate themselves with stereotyping. As mentioned early, women can use social, print and other electronic media to pass message to government to formulate policies that protect the rights of a woman. The media houses should sensitive their clients on responsive advertising to prevent portraying women as sex objects. It is believed that achieving cultural change is difficult unless there is great sensitizing of the society concerning real issues. The portrayal of women as beauty objects in various social media has forced some teenage girls to look for unethical ways of changing their appearances. Recent studies have indicated that television advertisement and the pictures posted in social media platforms has increased graving of girls to try change color of dark skin to pale, others wanted to be thinner, while others are depressed when overweight (Ephraim, 2013). The media is the only effective tool for fighting stereotyping through lobbying advertisers to tackle real issues of women imaging.
- Breaking glass ceilings
Many corporations have glass ceiling that prevent women from progressing in job towards top management level and is common in media corporations just like in other industries. In majority of the organizations, the executive positions like CEOs in the government, law and journalism are preserved for men in the US and UK (Fourcade, 2009). It is believed that glass ceilings are achieved through complex structure that prevent women to progress towards executive positions as a result the male dominate major sectors of the economy. This creates a need to fight sexist structures in workplace that enhances women stereotyping.
- Fighting social inequality
The debate concerning gender equality has long been a subject issue for many countries. The modern world present challenges for people belonging to special group especially the transgender women and lesbian who are prejudiced against and are likely to be discriminated (Lombardi, 2002). The issues of disability, gender, race and sexual orientation usually disadvantage certain group especially women thus creating a need to tackle such issues.
- Violence against women
Violence against women is no longer a case in developed countries unlike the developing countries where there is no elaborate legal framework to tackle the issue. In third world countries especially in Africa, over 90% of domestic violence victims are women (Koenig, 2003). Drawing campaigns that increase attention to fighting stigma and formulating policy against plastic surgery in magazine adverts help in reducing sexism. There has been huge international progress in fight against discrimination against as a result international Women’s day has been set aside to honor great work done by women. Fighting misconceptions about women is core towards achieving women’s equality. Hillary Clinton is a great personality to be emulated for breaking glass ceilings to become the first US’s female presidential candidate during the past elections.
This study has shown that feminism in today’s media is a huge concern that requires concerted effect between different governmental and nongovernmental organizations. this study has shown that Feminism can easily alleviated by tacking misconception and promoting cultural change.