February 9, 2024
Media depicting women holds one main aim: Giving a space for women to be judged
May 13, 2017. Kamala Harris (L) at Howard University.
If all men are created equal, then only in the sense that they have equal power over who they are. Who they become, what they choose and believe is entirely their own. Their person is what they create it to be.
Who a woman is, however, is apparently a much more complex thing. How can we be sure about this? It starts with using words like ‘trailblazer’ and ‘independent’ and ‘controversial’.
Whether that be from a true belief or a simple prejudice, the impact of media is changing how women are perceived.
From being attacked online, to degraded in public, to respected worldwide, media depicting women holds one main aim: giving a space for women to be judged.
How we use that space is what is so complex. A set of words is quite a small frame to describe everything that a person could be, so to do it artfully enough to portray a woman accurately, and without bias, is incredibly difficult.
The main message, however, is to journalists: do not tell readers what to perceive but show what is being perceived. Too often women are used to show social progress, and improvement on the man’s part, rather than demonstrating her own achievements.
The media is a powerful tool. It is a palace of one’s biased perspective, and it is imperative, now more than ever, to wield it appropriately.
There is also another side: the glorification of women.
With new movements and new ways of describing the same age-old problems, there has come a new sense of glorification of the minority. Alliance and activism, without accurate information, turn into blind following and praise.
This is also a problem, as it leads many to, again, stop thinking of women as people, in favor of using them as a way to promote selfish activism. And selfish activism is just a misnomer for oppression.
The question comes, then, about what sort of media holds the strongest impression on a modern audience. Surely, TV & Film can be put at the highest rank, though reform in media is difficult as it is a money-driven-people-pleasing industry.
Journalism has always held power, even with a new age of misinformation taking control.
One avenue in particular should not be discredited: fiction writing. Writers across time have attempted to capture what it means to be a woman, whether that be romantically tragic (Play It As It Lies), dreamy and ambitious (Little Women), investigative (Nancy Drew), adventurous (The Hunger Games), contrary (Pride and Prejudice), and many more.
It is very obvious that it is impossible to define a woman, in the same way it is impossible to define a man, to define an idea, to define a mindset.
So perhaps, then, the goal should not be to define women in the media. The goal should not be to perceive women and present a warped version in the media. Instead, the media should give them room to be perceived.
And to ultimately let them be understood like we understand everything else: not at all.