A Case Study of Women in American Media

By: Kevin Ho


As relating to the notion of men always having the higher power, I examine how women are shown in the media.The case study “Using Women in Advertisement as a Symbol of Sex: Cosmopolitan Magazine Example” stated that “advertisement keeps showing woman as a stereotype for years and as a result creating difficulty in understanding the changing role of women by society” (3). Advertisements tend to show women’s body as young, skinny and beautiful to get attention and some might be doing housework or caring for the baby. Not just advertisement, there are tv shows and movies that show how women always listen to what the man says, women are materialistic and women in the media are always skinny.

Hypersexuality of Females by Film Rating

(Image Source: Hypersexuality of Females By Film Rating)

This graph shows how different rated films have women as thin, small waist and with an unreal body. One of the movies that I can think of is “Confession of a Shopaholic;” the main character Rebecca Bloomwood is a shopaholic and wanted to have anything fancy, although she had a lot of debt. As what the media always do, she is skinny and has a small waist. However, she then met her boss who is extremely rich (1). By stereotyping women as materialistic can affect the women’s mood and the movie showed how their relationship doesn’t have love but money.

shopaholic(Image Source: Screen Shot)


Media has been playing a major role in our life which are leading to lots of issues such as creating social norms and stereotypes. We can see this in tv, movies or news and people often learn about other genders through the media. Data showed that 96.7 percent of American families own a tv. Women Media Center stated that “the research found that 63.4 percent of those with bylines or on-camera appearances as anchors or reporters were men, while women were 36.1 percent” (7). This illustrates that women are still categorized as minorities and men still have a larger power than women. As what the movie showed that women have to follow the order the men said and of course the boss of the company is always men and always rich.

An article written by Amanda Zimmerman mentioned how women are seen as an object in the advertisement and media. They study about how women feel about it and how they would feel about it in the past (8). As that being said, we might believe that it is normal to see a woman with less clothes on in the advertisement as appropriate. The movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” showed the female main character without wearing clothes but the man character still has appropriate clothes on him while having sex (2). In other words, people who are used to the media showing women as an object don’t think it is a big deal. This is a problem of whether we believe that women are born to do this or it is the role for women to do this. As teaching the society about an idea is really important like how the article written by Stuart Hall mentioned.

fifty shades

(Image Source: Fifty Shades of Grey)

In his chapter “Representation,” Stuart Hall has mentioned about how representation plays an important role in our life. People create and exchange meanings within the culture. He mentioned about how representation gives us a sense of the meaning in the culture and some might have different approach about an idea or a word (4). Some culture might not think women as an object as a big deal but some might think female is the dominant one. It is really important for people to understand the meaning and how it is constructed in the culture. Like in the states, media tend to use sexual objectification of women to gain more audience.

The media company has targeted the male audience and because men were portrayed as rich so the company think of the main consumers as male instead of female. The company only cares about the profit they are earning and how the majority of audience think of it.

By relating to this, the article “Men’s and Women’s Responses to Sex Role Portrayals in Advertisement” written by Holancova, Denisa examine people’s feeling to sex role that was shown in the advertisement. The results came out as what most of the people think, women do get affected by the image and tend to refuse to buy the products but men do think it’s not a big deal and will continue buying that kind of magazine. (5) As a result, the media is always biased and they have always been targeting the male consumers. Like how “Fifty Shades of Grey” showed the naked side of the main woman character. However, they didn’t care about her feelings instead of caring about the money they will earn.

Lastly, I believe the film “Miss Representation” can be related to what I was saying about women’s image. Media has been portraying female’s body as an object and it has an influence to affect people’s mood and mind (6). Most of the image on the media has been Photoshop and people still believe they look the same on the media but no. It is affecting women’s thought about how they should act, do and work but for men, they would always think that women should take care of the men and men should be the dominant one. Media has represented minorities in different ways and we should care about this issues because people can be easily affected.



Works Cited:

(1) Confession of shopaholic. Dir. P.J. Hogan.Walt Disney, 2009. Film.

(2) Fifty shades of grey. Dir. James Foley. Universal Studios, 2015. Film.

(3) Gudekli, Ismail Aysad, and Ibrahim Celik. “KADININ CİNSEL BİR SİMGE OLARAK
Journal of Yaşar University 9.35 (2014): 6129. Web.

(4) Hall, S. (1997). Chapter 1: The Work of Representation: Cultural Representations and
Practices London: Sage Publications & Open University.

(5) Orth, and Holancova. “Men’s and Women’s Responses to Sex Role Portrayals in
International Journal of Research in Marketing 21.1 (2004): 77-88.

(6) Siebel Newsom, J. (2011) Miss Representation. Virgil Films and Entertainment, LLC.

(7) “Shibboleth Authentication Request.” Shibboleth Authentication Request. N.p., n.d.
Web. 03 Mar. 

(8) “WMC’s Research Shines Light on Gender Bias in Major U.S. Broadcast, Print, Online,
& Wire 
Outlets.” WMC’s Research Shines Light on Gender Bias in Major U.S.
Broadcast, Print, Online, & 
Wire Outlets. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2017.

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(Feature Image source: Women Weekly)