The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Lack of gender equality in mainstream media

When was the last time you questioned where our media comes from, who constructs it and whose viewpoint we are consuming? It is a common occurrence in our culture for the media to be labeled “too liberal” or “too conservative.” Large media corporations are almost always attached to a political bias, but what about a gender bias?

According to data compiled by Lorie Slass of Annenberg Public Policy Center Women hold only three percent of clout positions in the mainstream media (telecommunications, entertainment, publishing and advertising).

Clout titles, according to Slass, include Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Vice Chairman, President, Chief Operating Officer, Senior Executive Vice President and Executive Vice President. Executives with these titles have the highest level of power within an organization.

Since women make up three percent of the most powerful positions within our mainstream media, 97 percent of the media we consume comes from the viewpoint of men.

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This fact came to my attention just a few weeks ago when I was exposed to “Miss Representation,” a 2011 documentary directed and edited by Jennifer Siebel Newsom.

The film deals with how women are portrayed in mainstream media and the everlasting focus on beauty and sexuality instead of talent or intellect.

The stat about women holding just three percent of clout positions in mainstream media was just one of the many alarming facts brought to my attention by the film. Since viewing the film I cannot get the concepts discussed out of
my mind.

It is so alarming to me that in a country where 51 percent of the population is female, we get almost all of our media from the viewpoint of men. This isn’t my attempt to trash a man’s viewpoint, it just makes me wonder what I’m not being shown.

As I sat and watched women who I admire like Katie Couric and Condoleezza Rice talk in the documentary about how cruel the media has been to them I was forced to wonder have we made any progress at all in the fight for gender equality?

If our media is degrading to some of the most respectable women journalists and politicians like Katie or Condoleezza what hope is there for any other girls and women to receive respect in the public eye?

Both Katie Couric and Condoleezza Rice have been criticized time and time again for their appearance. Rice once called a “dominatrix” for wearing all black and leather boots, and Couric has often been praised for her “voluptuous legs.” But yet commenting on what tie Brian Williams decides to wear seems ridiculous because it is. For some reason that’s not the case when it comes to women.

Women in the media are criticized for what they are wearing and how much they weigh first and foremost. Their talents, views, and beliefs come secondary to appearance if included at all. So what does this mean for me as a journalism and political science major?

What does this mean for my generation and the generations to follow?

As a self-proclaimed feminist, I like to think that our society has progressed beyond this, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Is a woman’s worth yet measured by her brainpower, achievements, philanthropy, and character the way a man’s is? If so, the media isn’t

The media seem to live in an age where even women like Katie Couric and Condoleezza Rice are only as good as their shoes
and hairstyles.

For this to ever change it seems overwhelmingly obvious what we need to do. The mainstream media and political offices in America need to be comprised and representative of real Americans: women, men and minorities all working together. Is this too idealistic to assume this can happen?

Perhaps, considering the 2010 midterm election was the first time women have not made gains in congress since 1979, according to “Miss Representation.” At the rate we are going it will take 500 years for women to
achieve parity.

However I firmly believe that step-by-step we can continue to change the society we live in. America is so often called the “most powerful nation in the world” and yet we have fewer women in government and media than countries like Cuba, Iraq and China. So in my opinion, we have a lot of catching up to do.


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Lack of gender equality in mainstream media