Representations of women
What’s the problem?
The media does not treat women as equal to men. Women are sexualised and objectified, described according to their relationship or reproductive status, derided for their appearance, and routinely have their privacy invaded by the media.
Negative representations of women have a serious impact on how gender equality is viewed in society as a whole, and also leads to health concerns, low self-esteem and body image in women and girls.
There are specific areas in which women’s representation in the media has particularly damaging impacts on women’s equality. Violence against women, where the language and imagery used can both reinforce dangerous myths around violence, and have a significant impact on the ability of women to report. Women in politics also face significant ill-treatment in the media, with countless examples of coverage focusing on shoes rather than views, speculating on reproductive choices, and reinforcing negative stereotypes through language use. Key issues for women’s equality such as abortion, the pay gap, and social security are regularly misrepresented in the media.
Who’s working on it?
Zero Tolerance lead on work challenging media portrayals of violence against women with their Handle With Care guidelines for journalists and the Write to End Violence Against Women Awards. Together with Scottish Women’s Aid, they created the ‘A Thousand Words’ project which created accurate and representative stock photos for the media to use when reporting issues of domestic abuse.
The Women 50:50 campaign frequently comment on ill-treatment of women politicians by the media.
The International Planned Parent Federation have produced a guide for covering abortion and reproductive justice.