GENDER IN THE MEDIA 1
If there’s anything people are realizing these days, it’s that representation matters. A lot.
Media is incredibly influential, and not many people seem to realize how much of an impact it
has on our society as a whole. But while people of color are finally starting to get their spotlight
on the silver screen and in our streaming apps, there’s a huge group of people who still haven’t
seen much representation at all, and when they do, it’s a mostly negative portrayal.
When we portray people, they’re generally male or female, and there is no inbetween.
The mainstream media would like to have you believe that there’s a binary system in place, and
that the only two genders that exist are male and female, with their respective stereotypes.
There’s not much portrayal of those who don’t identify as either, and we’re leaving out a lot of
people. Kids who don’t understand what they’re going through when they don’t feel like they fit
in with either gender have no one to turn to, no shows, no movies, nothing that represents them,
at least not in a positive light.
Another issue with how we portray different genders in mainstream media has a lot to do
with stereotypes. There’s a common theme among most characters. Women are often feminine,
dainty, and portrayed in a very specific way, while men have their own set of stereotypes they’re
often portrayed in. These stereotypes seem to follow suit with other genders when they do appear
in mainstream media, which is scary to think about when you consider the effect that these
stereotypes have already on us. As young as two years old, women are subjected to the concept
GENDER IN THE MEDIA 2
of being a princess, which usually entails being pretty, skinny, always in dresses, and always
being saved by a big, strong man. This sort of influence has lead to a lot of interesting results,
usually ending with women believing that they need to be some sort of princess in order to be
successful. They need a knight in shining armor, they need to be pretty, skinny, fancy. It
engrained a message along the lines of “this is the best you can be”, and often times, there were
no masculine traits showed in these characters, meaning that all women were taught that they
needed to be completely feminine.
Recently we’ve had a few characters on TV or in movies who identify as transgender,
which is a big step in the right direction, but again, representation matters, and representing those
people as one-offs, or loners, or bad people isn’t helping anyone. There’s been a slight rise in the
portrayal of what some would call controversial genders, but it needs to be done correctly.
Studies have already found that mainstream coverage of the transgender community is extremely