Acknowledging and Resolving Gender Bias Through Media

 

Media, whether it is traditional media or online media, still vastly influences our ideas and perception about a lot of things. The role of media in our society is very crucial- shaping public opinion, setting agendas, etc. 


But sadly, although India has attained exceptional progress, Indian media still tends to perpetuate gender inequality. The longest and the most consequential movement, continuing even now has been the movement for the emancipation of women. 


Gender role biases in Indian media have served to brace and even enhance the degradation of women in society.

 

As an industry that has the invisible power to bring about radical change, the portrayal of women in media has a direct impact on the way society deals with women and feminism.

 

In this article, I will brief you about certain spheres of the media and communication industry and ways in which they should cover and ease the movement of women empowerment in India respectively.

 

Newspapers

 

According to a few reports on the internet, there are 11%-29% of women compared to men whose articles are published and recognized. The reports were worse for Hindi newspapers with a maximum of 11% of female writers. 

 

In that light, it is only appropriate to incorporate and encourage more and more women to write articles in the newspapers, which by the way are the most seen and welcomed source of information in India. 

 

Newspapers should also focus on printing articles and columns regularly about and for women. This doesn’t always mean covering issues regarding women, it implies that the content should be balanced across the genders.

 

This includes covering achievements and encouraging women from rural areas and villages. It also includes free advertisement of small-scale workers, women-owned businesses, and young entrepreneurs, both male and female, equally. 

 

Creating a balance would help in drawing equilibrium between the genders in the reader/viewer’s eyes. It will eventually change their perception and drive them to think differently. 

 

TV Shows and Movies

 

Fictionalized drama is one sphere of the media industry that runs daily soaps, cartoons, theatricals, etc which is viewed by a daily audience. We strongly believe in the cathartic role media can play in bringing gender equality in society.

 

Most of these tender to women’s roles as victims of accidents, emotionally dependent, sentimental, weak, naive, stereotypical, and concerned solely about families. 


At the same time, this industry portrays the male figure as the breadwinner, decisive, bold, career-oriented, etc. Even the cartoons that are seen by little kids, which shape their thinking have their key character as a male figure and the female in the supporting roles. 

 

It is important for the visual media industry which has a voice to change the deep-rooted stereotypical thinking of society to actually portray more stories that have female protagonists or stories that depict women equal to men.  

 

TV News

 

TV news, watched by millions of Indians surprisingly has only 10%-15% of women addressing the debates. Again, Hindi news channels were slightly worse than the English news channels to include women to conduct or host debates. 


It is very crucial for TV news channels to include women equally as men to address the debates or anchoring etc. 


The way to ensure gender equality by these firms is through understanding and implementing how women are strong and independent and have the ability to move up on the job ladder on their own if not pulled down.

 

On the most sensitive topics such as rape, the news channels try to loudly mention details like the size of the clothing of women, almost indirectly trying to justify it as the women’s fault that she was raped. 


This adds to the profound mentality of the generation that thought that women only belonged in the kitchen.

 

Social Media

 

Social media is gradually becoming the most seen and read form of media by the present and future of this country and it holds a huge responsibility on its back of sending legitimate information to its viewers. 

 

Social media should prove fruitful for its purpose by sending in advertisements depicting equilibrium between males and females in society, making people encourage and appreciate how women are excelling in each and every field.

 

Apart from media, another domain that needs to be touched is the upbringing of children that shapes their mentality.

 

Upbringing of Children

 

The house is a child’s first school and the family is its first teacher. It is very important to teach them gender equality in the form of daily upbringing. 


The easiest ways of educating them about equality are by distributing chores equally, treating them equally, teaching them to be self-dependent, and by being an example to them.

 

Educational reforms have not been made for decades and that includes the gender bias that tags along with it since the time of our great grandfathers. 


We all have witnessed episodes in our student life of young girls being subjected to dressing in a certain way so as to not attract the attention of boys while there are no such rules for the boys. 

 

This is what shapes the minds of young children to think that girls have to dress appropriately and which gives people the audacity to make comments that it was the girl’s fault if she was raped, molested, etc. 

 

Media and schooling hold a large hand in a democracy and it is only expanding not diminishing. With the larger hand comes a truckload of responsibilities of ensuring the right portrayal of women. 


The sex-stereotyping by these established institutions hinder women’s journeys of attaining equal rights and achieving autonomy in India. 


To bring gender equality, it is important to discuss and change the pre-existing norms that take away women’s basic rights. It is time we come together and make this world a better place for women.

 

James Wallman from The Future of Gender Equality Report had said, "In the future, we're going to break today's norms, we'll create norms that are much better. We'll be living 50/50 lives, we'll be sharing the responsibility, we'll be part-time caregivers and part-time entrepreneurial breadwinners."

 

Edited By – Christeena George

 

Written By - Nandita Singh

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