The Portrayal of Gender Roles in Media Under the Microscope: The Mask You Live In & Miss Representation

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Media often acts as a mirror to the values and thought processes of society as an organism. It shows the audience what they need to see which is often a reflection of who they are and the things they believe in. It gets disturbingly malicious when the portrayal puts genders and sexuality in tight stereotypes.

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Media is not only a one-way mirror, but it’s also a stimulator. What we see, becomes us. This is the reason why watching genders stereotyped in a certain way, somehow strengthens the stereotypes.

To discuss the themes of media representation, the social construction of masculinity and femininity, gender inequity, sexism, violence, rape, self-image, eating disorders, race, body image, media centralization, labeling, deviance, the sexualization of young girls, objectification of women’s bodies, and suicide, the author will be analyzing two films: Miss Representation and The Mask You Live In.

In 2011, directors Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Kimberlee Acquaro set up Miss Representation, a connecting documentary that lights up a significant number of ways ladies and teens are inadequately spoken to in American mainstream society. The reaction to the narrative was reverberating, it has been screened in a huge number of schools, as it’s an especially great asset for helping youthful grown-ups create media proficiency around sexual orientation portrayal. After Miss Representation’s delivery, Newsom established The Representation Project, a non-benefit that urges individuals to reconsider sexual orientation generalizations. The Mask You Live In, is The Representation Project’s significant follow-up film dismembering current manliness. Like Miss Representation, The Mask You Live In has a going with text educational plan and is designed for being screened in instructive settings, like school wellbeing classes or media workshops, as opposed to wide-release.

Miss Representation is a moving documentary by Jennifer Newsom that offers an innovative and new point of view regarding the matter of sexism. The narrative likewise shows the way sex equality can be acknowledged to empower more ladies to accept positions of authority in the general public. The narrative highlights provocative discourse with individuals from the press, lawmakers, activists, researchers, and specialists. They incorporate Lisa Ling, Condoleezza Rice, Rosario Dawson, Nancy Pelosi, Gloria Steinem, Paul Haggis, and Katie Couric. The film gives surprising insights and realities that leave watchers dazed and furnished with another recognition.

The Mask You Live In follows young men and teens as they battle to remain consistent with themselves while arranging America’s tight meaning of manliness. Exploration shows that contrasted with young ladies, young men in the U.S. are bound to be determined to have a conduct issue, prescribed medicated prescriptions, bomb out of school, have out of control drinking problems, perpetrate savage wrongdoing, or end their own lives.

The narrative is revolved around the inquiry: What does it intend to be a man in America? ‘Be a Man,’ ‘grow a few balls,’ ‘man up,’ ‘don’t be a pussy,’ ‘don’t cry,’ and ‘bros before hoes’ are for the most part expressions used to police manliness for men and young men. The film gives a fantastic view into the rarely talked about yet the profoundly noticeable assumption that, in American culture, there is a ‘perfect’ approach to be a man.

The film investigates how harming this expectation can be to our men. To battle this harming expectation, the film acquainted us with various men, originating from a wide scope of foundations. Numerous men talked about their encounters and uncovered how thoughts regarding manliness formed them. The film additionally gave the audience various stats, some disrupting, and many astounding.

Newsom’s Miss Representation, on the other hand, raises significant issues, for example, women having no voice in the present society given the steady accentuation of their body, and body parts, which continually dehumanizes them and conveys the message that they don’t make a difference all in all, in their multifaceted nature. Moreover, the impact of their consistent and pervasive dehumanization that exists in prevailing press publicizing is that transforming them into objects and into things denotes the initial phase in supporting viciousness against them: ‘We see this with bigotry, we see this with homophobia, we see it with fear-based oppression; it’s consistently a similar procedure. The individual is dehumanized and vicious at that point gets inescapable’ and legitimized. Through pictures of ladies’ bodies and body parts, a picture of the perfect lady is made, and with it the suggestion that whoever drops out of the separate classification that is any deviation from the ‘completely immaculate slim, white, tall, blonde, large-breasted female’ isn’t right and eventually rebuffed and transformed into a pariah. The message that is being conveyed to little youngsters through the media, and from an early age, is that they are just important if they look great and alluring. What they can do is hardly ever discussed or considered important; rather a matter of what they can accomplish for men and, certainly, a matter of what they look like is what is looked into. What the women’s activist creator, speaker, and movie producer Jean Kilbourne contend is that regardless of what a lady does, and regardless of her social or political effect on society, her worth will in any case rely upon what she looks like.

The Mask You Live In improved exceptionally complex thoughts around manliness through close-to-home accounts and academic examination. The film made the way for a discussion that is rarely had. Specific qualities regarded ‘manly’ are standardized in American culture and this narrative expects to deconstruct the thought that these thoughts regarding manliness are not characteristic; rather, they are socially built, repeated, and policed. Time after time manliness is examined uniquely the following womanliness, as though there are no issues with manliness all by itself. This narrative works superbly investigating manliness on its own terms while being mindful of how thoughts regarding manliness are continually being formed by—and contrary to—thoughts regarding womanliness. The film focuses on the powers that shape and propagate manly standards and features the negative effect these powers have on men and young men. There will be protection from the thoughts presented in the film; however, that opposition serves just to underline the need of testing the standards of our general public.

One of the principles gives that is examined and put under focal point through Miss Representation is that ladies have been and keep on being continually characterized, depicted, and (mis)represented by men. Even though ladies make up 51% of the complete U.S. populace, few ladies are editors, producers, writers, chefs, or agents in Congress. The point attempting to be made here is that although pictures of ladies in U.S. media have changed over the years and ladies as a minority bunch in the U.S. have accomplished certain rights and benefits, no genuine change or progress has actually been made.

The pictures changed, however, ladies are still enormously depicted characteristically and distorted. A radical and more positive change would possibly only happen if more ladies were behind the cameras and behind the pictures that are being depicted. It would change the whole point of view since it would never again be oriented around men in male-dominated work culture and it would make a domain where ladies would characterize themselves as comparable to themselves and not to men as it were.

It would turn into the instance of them being the vehicles of portrayal and less the instance of them being spoken to (that is being behind the cameras) which would give them more capacity to control what is on the screen and in this way more noteworthy capacity to control and shape the crowd’ sees women and how they ought to be dealt with. As Katie Couric asserts in the narrative: ‘it relies upon who’s guiding the plane’. For whatever length of time that ‘the plane’ is being ‘steered’ by men, they will be enticed to turn to depict bogus pictures of ladies to sell items and to cause ladies to feel shaky about what they look like that would prompt purchasing more items to feel they merit to anything.

The Mask You Live In is broad in scope and the narrative works superbly clarifying how our way of life makes manliness. It comes to a meaningful conclusion, as well, to outline the discussion at the beginning by separating sex and sexual orientation.

‘Since early on, we’re instructed not to communicate our feelings,’ says anti-violence advocate Tony Porter in the film, clarifying how the two guardians and mainstream society put forth for young men that they should not be vulnerable. The young men are frequently informed that being vulnerable & emotional amounts to be defenseless. That demeanor instructs young men to hush up about their sentiments, which prompts subdued feelings blasting to the surface in vicious manners.

This has wide-going outcomes. As the film calls attention to, one out of four young men is tormented in school, however, just 30 percent of harassed young men ever tell a grown-up. It can prompt lost personal kinships and dependence on becoming inebriated to speak really about your contemplations. Clinicians note that the ‘language of feelings’ vanishes as young men get more seasoned at similar ages that paces of self-destruction go up. When they’re in secondary school, less than 50 percent of young men with psychological well-being issues ever look for help. The film draws an obvious conclusion regarding a manly ideal that valorizes the absence of sympathy and physical power to the making of a general public overflowing with rape and abusive behavior at home.

Due to all the above-stated reasons, the inward sentiments of self-loathing, low confidence or no confidence, dietary problems that such a large number of teens experience the ill effects of, past segregation and underestimation, the steady need to substantiate themselves and to demonstrate they are more than their looks and the weight from their male friends in practically any field. All these have caused massive mental damage that solitary upgrades negative pictures of ladies, on the grounds that the media additionally ponders what goes in the public arena. What’s more, the media never really be the perpetrator of a message that will keep them up in a place of inadequacy and cause significantly more mental damage, misery, and lopsidedness.

So where is the genuine advancement that has been made regarding how ladies, as well as men, are depicted and treated in the media and the American culture?

Works Cited

  1. Killing Us Softly 4. Dir. Sut Jhally. Perf. Jean Kilbourne. Meda Education Foundation,
  2. 2010. Youtube. 24 Aug. 2012. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.
  3. Miss Representation. Dir. Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Perf. Jane Fonda, Geena Davis,
  4. Rosario Dawson, Jean Kilbourne, Katie Couric. Girls’ Club Entertainment, 2011.
  5. Youtube. 13 Oct. 2011. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.
07 July 2022

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