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The Role of Women and Mass Media - Megha Mishra

Updated: Nov 27, 2021

Mass media is the mode of global communication that was invented to inform, educate and entertain its audience. It has transformed into an evolutionary tool of making and selling propagandas, dynamics of its subject evolves from time to time. Behavioural psychologists have observed the direct effect of media on its viewers and this correlation can be understood with the help of hypodermic theory or the Magic bullet theory postulated in early 1920’s.

According to these “Media effects theories’’ viewers are passive and they directly consume what media feeds them. They accept the message without paying any heed whether the Information is right or wrong, true or a hoax. The media content is shot at the audience like a magic bullet which quickly dissolves into the psyche of viewers and it not only shapes the opinion but also constructs the reality for them. And presently the mass media has played a conclusive role in sowing seeds of patriarchal culture by weaving new images and giving them meaning and context. Setting gender roles to shape public opinions, media has been the most exquisitely efficient expanded into networks that define the gender democracy.

In the early 1900’s media brought the wave of modernity. It was associated with the advent of modernisation. The influence of mass media on its mass audience is inseparable. It gives details to the reality that it wants viewers to experience and one such fabricated reality of media is gender representation. Media grabs the attention of viewers from roots and therefore it works in two-fold manner firstly entertaining viewers in their leisure and secondly refining social reality in the contemporary world on which people can act upon. There has been great deliberation of feminists like Simon de Beauvoir, Susan B Anthony and Mary Wollsten expressing their concern on the roles and representation of woman viewed by the masses. The recent media trends have been fixated with stereotypical approach of creating an image of what woman should appear in the eyes of spectators.

These everyday media vehicles use woman as a medium of their publicity or selling of products. From outdoor advertisement banners to visual media i.e. Newspapers and periodicals showcase woman as sex objects. Do we really need sexual appeal by using ubiquitous images of woman desolating modesty and dignity of woman? .Srivastava’s research on the Indian media has shown that the dominant-negative Stereotypes in connection to the portrayal of women are: 1. Woman’s position should be in the home. 2. The most crucial and important asset of women is physical beauty. 3. A woman’s stability and intellect must be directed toward discovering the right man. 4. Women are dependent coy and submissive; they are masochistic in their response to indignities shame, and even to physical pandemonium compelled upon them. 5. The good woman is the traditional house wife long-suffering, devoted and modest; the contemporary woman who affirms herself and her sovereignty is unpleasant and can never fetch prosperity to anybody nor find happiness for herself. 6. Women are women’s worst antagonists. 7. The working woman is the unpleasant exception who must be brought in to the marriage fold and made to harmonize to traditional social norms.

An annual report published in the year 1974 titled as ‘The Jag Mohan Joshi Report’ reported some figures and states on representation of woman as it said that majority of woman in television are portrayed either as wives or mothers. Despite the fact that 36% of them are agricultural workers, women are largely projected as non-producers, with a very fancy and decorative function, being marginal or very less productive to national growth and development. Multiple and pluralistic nature of Indian culture and the diverse roles women play is neither acknowledged nor transferred in society. The output of all this process is stereotyped images and role specifications of women in one-dimensional projection of their reality’. Conclusion

The role of woman in media is yet to be defined by the media theorists. Identity of woman has always fascinated scholars and researchers. The problem is that no parallel reforms have been initiated yet. To improve the condition of woman representation the stigmatic roles being fed to the society continues to exist irrevocably. Yet the commercial media objectifies woman and her dignity reduces her existence to mere sex appeal or commodity. All the revolutionary phenomena’s are interconnected when we make reforms in society by introducing the concept of equality and woman empowerment we cannot challenge the society unless we don’t change the predominantly existing media customs. We need mass media to modernise for real and introduce these reforms so that the roles that are socially constructed engineered concept transforms into an actual image, a true reflection of an equally hardworking independent woman. I am a female and neither am weak with uncontrollable emotional upsurge nor am I any object for an eye. I am a balance of both femininity and masculinity because I believe that my role cannot be defined by any traditional or electronic platform, I am larger than life persona and an ever-changing always dynamic evolutionary human. I keep on expanding and shrinking my roles. So take me as I am because I am who I am!

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