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And that [new stereotype] wasn't necessarily right either, but it means it is now balanced somewhere in the middle. Campaigners have long complained that there is a pronounced tendency across the whole of the media for women to disproportionately appear in passive roles - perhaps as victims of crime - instead of actually doing something. Edwin Smith accepts there may be some truth in the argument that women are presented as victims, but that it reflects a wider culture.


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It is lazy but it has more widespread appeal to portray women as a victim. And the reader is more likely to sympathise with a woman victim.

The art of being yourself

Some newspapers - like the Sun - have campaigned extensively on the issue of domestic violence, of both female and male victims. But there is concern that across the media as a whole, the importance of such issues can be underplayed. The Object report "found instances in which the violence and harm suffered by victims of abuse was marginalised, trivialised or even made invisible". Dame Marjorie Scardino's decision to step down at Pearson means there will be just two top UK firms led by women.

So women are under-represented in public life, says Smith, adding that newspapers are only reflecting the society they report on. There are examples of successful women whom the media jump at featuring. She's a superstar who is treated with dignity and respect.

Five things about women in the press

So you can't say newspapers ignore successful women," he adds. While the tabloids seem to show pictures of scantily-clad women, the so-called "qualities" focus mainly on men. Author and broadcaster Germaine Greer points out that women rarely feature in obituaries, and are more likely to appear in advertising than news. But blame is not always clear. Part of the reason women's sport is ignored is because women don't go and watch it, she argues.

Greer recently did an ad hoc analysis of photographs in the Guardian.

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The men tended to be named, the women were not named or were representing something generic. The Object report noted that on any given day "several pages of newspapers will appear without any reference to a woman at all, leaving the impression that women make no contribution to broader society". Leadership psychologist Averil Leimon agrees that powerful women are often absent from the press.


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I don't for a moment think the media is doing this deliberately, but they just don't think 'are we being even-handed here? When stories arise they tend to be pigeon-holed, she says, for example as a blonde mum-of-two because sex sells. The focus on women's body shapes has an effect, Greer says. Earlier this year, an MPs' report recommended that school children should take part in compulsory body image lessons. More than half of the public have a negative body image, "driven by the proliferation of media imagery portraying a so-called 'perfected ideal' that is entirely unattainable for the vast majority of people", said Jo Swinson MP, chairwoman of the All Party Parliamentary Group.

Private Eye regularly takes the Daily Mail to task for espousing family values in its newspaper while putting women's bodies on its website. The scrutiny can start surprisingly young. The magazine in its latest issue notes a Mail Online piece on "President Obama's 'blossoming Paul Staines, who edits the Guido Fawkes blog, says that as a father of two young daughters he worries about the "unrealistic depiction" of women in the press. Air-brushing is a particular concern. And often women get a "slightly tougher ride" because the focus is on what they are wearing rather than what they have to say, he adds.

But citing the example of the MP Caroline Flint, who posed in a glamorous red dress and heels for a photo shoot for Observer magazine, he says: Their photos were picked up by the national press. In this sense, says Staines, some female politicians "bring it on themselves" in an attempt to seek publicity. The same might be said of celebrities. Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of the Mail titles, told the Leveson inquiry that celebrities were "invading their own privacy".

Greer agrees, saying famous people often play the media game to promote themselves. Leimon says it's not just celebrities who suffer. No, they wouldn't dream of doing that. There's a clear bias. You can follow the Magazine on Twitter and on Facebook. Five things about women in the press 3 December Women viewers are aware of an imbalance, but recognise also that simplistic solutions to correct this situation can be very unsatisfactory. They do not reject the idea of programmes targeted to women, partly because viewers already recognise certain genres as made for women.

There is an element of resentment about among female viewers about the idea that women form a unified group which is differentiated from men as a group , but in which individual differences between women are ignored. The viewers react quite strongly to what they see as new stereotypes: Genres do not matter as such. Rather women choose specific programmes which attract them in terms of content, style and approach, and in which they find connections to their own realities of everyday life.

At present, these programmes seem to be predominantly fiction or entertainment-oriented. This is partly because programming policies rely very much on basic audience ratings and take for granted the underlying, traditional gender division by genres. Women are targeted with and offered "feminine" genres, and that is one reason why they tend to watch them. However, there are clear signs of boredom with the increased "lightening" of current television output. In this regard, women seem to make no distinction between public and commercial television, or between different programme types.


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In Europe the debate about gender images on television is a fairly recent one. Gender portrayal has briefly been considered in the context of violence and explicit sex on screen, and of stereotypes in TV-commercials. But as a topic in its own right it has not much interested either media policy makers, journalists or television audience themselves.

A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex and the Mind by Siri Hustvedt – review

Because of this association with the sex-and-violence genre and with stereotypical advertising, discussion of the images of women has been linked to commercial television in particular, and has not been perceived as a major concern for European public television. Today, due to the recent changes in European media, issues of gender representation in relation to audience perceptions are attracting more attention.

These changes are resulting in new media policies and new questions for research. Deregulation and the advent of new transmission technologies have increased the number of channels which viewers can choose from. Audience targeting, long since standard practice in the United States, has become a crucial part of survival also within the European context.

For public broadcasting companies, increased competition has posed many difficulties. Formerly, the operation of a public broadcasting company destined to serve the public was guaranteed merely by saying so. Today public radio and television are under the same pressure as commercial companies to prove that large numbers tune in or watch their programmes. Now that numbers matter, women as members of the audience have also begun to matter.

A recent state-of-the-art review of research on images of women in European media initiated by the European Commission Kivikuru et al. However, this research has not satisfactorily dealt with the question of audience choice, or the role of gender portrayal in making these choices.

Thus it has been relatively unhelpful in formulating media policies intended to serve women audiences. Although there has been little comprehensive research on gendered audiences, studies throughout Europe can be said to show a fairly predictable pattern of gender differences in the media preferences of women and men. Although there is not much difference in time spent watching television , women tend to prefer drama including serials and soap operas , talk shows and certain comedy programmes , while men prefer sports, action-oriented series and information programmes, including news and current affairs.

But it also evoked many contradictory feelings. The Case In Point. In YLE TV2 created a new concept for a late-evening programme specifically targeted to "young-minded women". A pilot was produced to test the concept and its various content segments. The two hosts, female and male, were to deviate from the traditional "talk show" format and provide stylish and humorous links between the various programme elements.

The theme of the pilot was "romantic love". This pilot was tested with six focus groups, amounting altogether to 45 participants of different educational, age and geographical backgrounds. The case in question was a pilot which never materialised into a programme. A general feeling in the focus groups was that the pilot included new and interesting elements for women. Although in the news research the focus group discussants three groups of women, one group of men were very able to analyse and criticise images in the news and to propose alternatives, they quite unanimously rejected the idea of separate news for women.

The focus groups in this study reasoned along the same lines. The women did not specifically want a "programme of their own" but rather wondered if their family would be interested enough to watch a programme like the pilot, and what elements could bring both men and women together in front of the screen. I would really like to see things like It would be really nice to see on TV, these kind of positive things. So I would like to see like Viewers are obviously aware of this imbalance between their experience of reality and what they see on television, yet do not articulate their awareness or criticise gender portrayal until asked.

Are The Media Old-fashioned? This was perceived to be quite "thin" and even outmoded. The other variant of the issue of "narrowness" in gender portrayal related to the importance of individual differences between people.

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There was implicit criticism of the view offered by "old-fashioned feminism", namely that women form a unified group which is very different from the unified group of men. Multi-dimensional Womanhood Is Called For. The stereotype is either a quite young, professional "bold and beautiful" superwoman an image which none of the discussants believed in , or a relatively passive and traditional woman, living mostly according to the rules set by "her" man an image that projects a rather simplistic and romantic ideal of male-female relationships.

I think it would be more fun It would concretely bring out that women and men are different [when talking] about the same issue. But more in a factual manner, there could be some light elements also Although one would watch alone or then in a little group But then the discussion starts about if one thinks this way or that way.

And especially important is that the hosts would be those kinds of persons who make people think about what they say, not what or who they are