there is not one single representation of femininity in the media. Depending on the genre (movie, television, news, documentary), the historical period, type of production (mainstream or independent), and the story being told, there may be a multitude and range of representations.

At the same time, even with all these representations, there are some common stereotypes and conventions we can see if we pay close attention to the patterns in what we’re viewing. These stereotypes and conventions may not reflect our reality or any reality we personally know or recognize. In fact, they simply may be common shorthand used by those working behind-the-scenes doing the writing, directing, producing, casting, set design, costuming, hair and makeup.

If we can start to see patterns, even in the smallest details of someone’s hair, their body language, the color of their bedroom walls, we can begin to understand how representations create meaning, perpetuate ideologies, and potentially reinforce stereotypes.

dig in...do now 

Begin by making a list of the types of media representations of women you can think of. Also, take a look at the media on this website tagged "femininity,” “sexual power” and/or “post-feminism.” Then, consider these questions:

Then, consider the following questions:

  • How are women represented in the media compared to men?
  • What are some common stereotypes of women in the media? What patterns do we see in depictions of women across media (film, television, news, music, etc.) and genres?
  • Does the media focus on women’s bodies and appearance? On their sexuality and sex appeal? On their physical strength? On their minds or intelligence? On their beliefs and values?
  • Do women have power?  How do we see it? How does it help them?
  • Are women treated as objects? Are they objectified?
  • Are women at home most of the time? Are they wives and mothers? Are they at work? What kind of jobs do they have? What are they doing when we see them at work?
  • Do we see them shopping? What are they buying? Are they buying for themselves or their families?
  • Who do we see them with?
  • What is their emotional state? Are they smiling? Sad? Confident? Does it depend on the story or circumstances?
  • How do they look? Are they old or young? Fit or unfit? How do they dress? What about hair and makeup?
  • Can the media play a role in telling women who they are, what they can do, and who they can be?

 

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