Ahrar Ershad

Right from the moment we open our eyes in the morning, we are bombarded with graphic advertisements, slogans, and images that underlie a major issue objectification and exploitation of women in mass media. Mass media has saturated the globalised world. The television in the living room, the newspaper on the doorstep, the radio in the car, the computer at work and the fliers in the mailbox are just a few of the media channels daily delivering advertisements, news, opinion, music and other forms of mass communication. In modern times, advertising has become the lifeline of the business economy.

The representation of women in media has always been exploitative. It has reduced women to being nothing more than objects to be won, prizes to be shown off, and playthings to be abused. It has also created a definition of beauty that women compare them to. Also, men compare the women in their lives to what they see on television screens, in magazines, and on billboards. Both the self and society has suffered because of the objectification, exploitation and assessment.

Why do companies choose to advertise female obscene objectification in commercials and billboards? Often we see seductive photographs in promoting a certain product or brand. Companies tend to use women in their advertisements because they are aware that they are simply attractive, and from a business standpoint, any attention is good attention. Companies want to stand out to their customers, attract large audiences, which results in large revenues. There is an underlying psychology behind such marketing strategies.

For example, a deodorant company uses provocative advertisements to promote their product; the message is that if you use this particular product, women will always surround you because you will be the best smelling man around. This message is implied of course, but it really has psychologically trained men to view women as objects. This is a subtle example of female objectification.

Similarly, a specific category of chocolate or a particular brand of a soft drink doesn’t need to sensationalise their commercials and give an adrenaline rush in order to sell their products. There are many causes of depression, but surely the media has influences that can enhance this disorder. For example, a commercial that depicts a skinny girl being chosen over a heavier girl may affect a young teen to think she is not worthy of affection and love. Moreover, she will psychologically be steered to think she must fix herself, rather than identifying a problem in society as a whole.

The objectification of women not only induces states of shame and fear in women; it also promotes the treatment of them as inhuman playthings exploitation of women is especially predominant in advertising, which is impossible to escape because ads are omnipresent. They are in every clothing store and adorn the pages of weekly sales circulars.

The mechanism used in these ads is quite simple: women are employed to grab attention, which advertisers hope will then be transferred to the product. In this way, women are equated with commodities. This objectification and exploitation has changed the rules of society and along with it the attitudes of men and women have changed. Whether or not these images “pollute” the cultural environment, they certainly change it.

TV serials are depicting women and young females as involved in conspiracy, pre-marital, extra-marital, post illicit affairs, wearing costly, heavy golden, and diamond jewelry, perpetuating their religious fundamentalism, spending time in family feuds, suicidal love affairs, mega parties, palatial houses, luxury cars, sleek mobiles, elegant make-ups, little care about anything else than the individual matters, and at all mob even a word about the outside world. Women are portrayed as gossip-mongers. Maximum shows on air today are marred with superstitions, religious and cultural stereotypes and violence. Hardly there is any substantiate material in these shows to help the society with something positive.

It might be aimed at only entertaining the masses with little messages in the end (hardly makes a difference), after all it is a capitalist venture, we must not forget. For all I know, women are affected the most, the home makers mostly, who find their escape through these serials. As far as typical women’s programmes on radio are concerned, on an average, 60 percent of programme time is devoted to entertainment only. Twenty percent is given for educational programmes, and 20 percent is used for imparting information.

The print media in India (when compared to electronic media) have limited impact on the vast and mainly illiterate population of the country. The majority of the population has depended on the oral tradition of cultural transmission for over two hundred years center for promoting ideas. It has been seen in the newspapers that these give place to the news related to rape, crime, politics, scandals, sports and economics; serious debates and discussions on issues related to women are completely missing.

In vernacular press the depiction of women gets a share only in colored pages where there is a lot of gossip about actress of TV serials and film stars along with some hot pick-ups. The English press also dwells upon providing snaps and erotic photo gallery of party mania in multi star hotels. Magazines as well as newspapers have sections for females where the readers are left only with the option of reading some personal gynecological problems of married women or personal love hick-ups of young girls, otherwise special features on knitting, fashion, sales etc. are the routine one.

The worse part of the whole episode is that there is no revulsion, no change to biased projections and no regrets from any part of the society. We have somehow taken the whole gamut of dialogues, stories and picturasition of women as way of our life or as if of no consequences.

It has never been realized that if womanhood is come when the coming generation of the present children will have absolutely no respect for their sisters, wives and mothers. Hence the major objectives of media must be to perform the programmes relating to improvement of women’s status that they are free to assert themselves as human beings, co-equal socially, morally and politically with men.

There should be positive portrayal of women taking note of their role in all facets of life.

Thus it can be concluded that overall effect of the portrayal of women in media is to reinforce rather than reduce prejudices and stereo types. The mass media in India has not made adequate efforts to discuss serious issues concerning women and prepare the women to play their rightful and equal role in society. To change this condition, it is necessary to monitor the media and point out the merits and demerits continuously.