Portrayal of Minority Women in the Media
Name of the Student:
Being in the media is quite important for all and sundry and that is why the portrayal of minority women on screen and media for that matter is even more important. This is attributed to the fact that the representation or portrayal of the minority groups more so comprising of women in mass media indeed has powerful and essential effects on the audiences. However, it was noted that in circumstances where minority of women are used, such images were not only found to be often stereotypical but also inaccurate as well as never reflective of individual diversities that prevailed in the actual life (Payton & Berki, 2019). It was therefore concluded that the minority women were not only underrepresented in media but were also segregated in different forms of content and thus were rarely engaged in positive cross ethnic interactions. According to studies carried out, it was ascertained that a change in the minority women in the media greatly mattered a lot since it was argued that an increase in televised portrayals of minority women in media can be helpful in increasing social tolerance. It was however noted that television viewers had similar or even higher rates of social tolerance as opposed to the non-viewers especially when such recurring portrayals became frequent.
It was noted that the representation of the minority women in media was done through various ways and these was through other means through writing, speech, moving or still pictures which have been of great concern in majority of the mainstream media. It was noted that the portrayal of the minority women in media has not always been in positive light but rather, it has propagated both controversial as well as misconstrued images regarding what such women depict or represent. Owing to the fact that “local news media” is the major source of information for most people across the world; it therefore played a significant role in provision of general knowledge about the minority women in media. The African-American women are a good example of minority women and according to research, their representation and portrayal has significantly changed from time immemorial. Some experts argue that the historical stereotypes regarding the portrayal of the African-American women in media have indeed been persistent in history and have even led to the creation of even more contemporary stereotypes in the mainstream media.
The entertainment media and news are known to teach the general public regarding the minority women in both intentional as well as well as intentional ways. It was further noted that the influence that the media had on the public image of minority women were indeed some of the complex features that were associated with the torturous relationships between the media and minority women (Mogaji, 2019). It is because of this that women minorities have noted the power of media in influencing their lives and thus made struggles that are aimed at ensuring such media not only have greater influences but also impacts on their own destination in their respective media industry.
In some instances, women minority “media efforts” that includes among others protests have usually emphasized on the media content area. This is because such women minorities have realized that the media has the ability of influencing not only how other people view them but also how they also viewed themselves. This is the major reason why the minority women in collaboration with other ethnic groups have made numerous attempts that are aimed at convincing the media industry decision makers to seek better balancing while covering news on minority women. They have also made efforts of convincing stakeholders in the media industry to ensure there is a reduction of widespread negativism especially in fictional treatment of minority women by entertainment media. It is due to the negative portrayal of women in media that have made such women to clamor for media presentation especially in the minority role models in not only in entertainment but also in advertising and news.
The minority women have further clamored for stakeholders in the media industry to ensure that standards are set for the minority women and also ensure that there is a reduction of “deleterious stereotypes” that take too long to prevail in the media industry. Even though some progress has been made, it was noted that the media has not been consistently sensitive or responsive in addressing the issue of minority women (Griffiths, Murray, Krug & McLean, 2018). It was noted that the major reason why there was low portrayal of minority women in media was because traditionally, the minority women had marginal presence as well as lesser influence in the main stream media channels. This has made women minorities to become frustrated especially regarding the delays as well as the slow progress that is made in the news mainstream media.
It was ascertained that even though there has been an achievement of a “long overdue” media presence for the minority women, crucial aspects of participation and portrayal have yet to be resolved. It was noted that once inside this door, there was a continuation of problems such as personal isolations, difficulty of minority women in entering the upper level management in media industries, career hazards, and even the lack of influence. As a result, minority journalists were known be engaged in the dilemma of ensuring that their social commitments were balanced in order to present an enhanced coverage of minority women and communities. This was done amid fears of the minority beat and having restrictions on their professional careers. It was thus noted that minority women actors found themselves caught between the need for finding roles that they had the ability of honing their craft and earning a living as well as recognition that majority of such roles could ultimately contribute to the public negative stereotypes.
Due to the negative depiction of minority women in media, some of them have actually opted to ensure that they operate outside the mainstream through establishment of their own personalized media. Such women have through such channels ensured that they are not only capable of selecting their own personalized themes but they are also in a better position of expressing their own personal views and even influence their public images through personalized media forms. That part, some of the minority women have established their own magazines, newspapers, and even established their own television and radio stations as well as film production firms that ultimately helps to reach their fellow minority markets (Saunders & Eaton, 2018). This has led to the development of numerous periodical such as Essence and Ebony that are known to provide programming languages that are capable of suiting the needs and aspirations of the minority people.
It is also important for all and sundry to note that the road towards “media self-determination” of the minority women has not all that been easy. As a result, most efforts geared at the establishment of the film making and other media efforts have ultimately collapsed or failed as a result of the lack of financial solidarity that is required in order to establish consistent and high quality media productions (Usher & Gómez, 2018). Moreover, it was also noted that even though some of the media publications had achieved significant economic success, they had limited longevity. For instance, it was ascertained that even though television and radio stations may be capable of producing in numerous languages, the ownership of such media outlets as well as their control on news and editorial policy did not finally rest in the rest in the hands of such minority women.
It was noted that while the minority women have been quite aware of the influence that the mass media had on their personal lives and have therefore made struggles aimed at increasing the impact that they had on media, the results have been both depressing and frustrating. However, it can truly be noted that such results have also encountered successes and victories that can be pointed and emulated by the minority women in media aspects. Due to an increase in media sophistication and experience, the minority people and women in particular are quite determined in ensuring that there is an expansion of their physical prevalence in societies that are becoming increasingly multiethnic (Harley, 2007).
According to one of the research study that was carried out, it was ascertained that the negative media portrayals had a negative impact on the Millennials of color especially women. Instead of using media in order to solve the largest problems that affected minority women, it was quite unfortunate that the media was being used to fight the positive women made by women in media.
The Portrayal of minority women in reality Television programs
It is a fact that the reality shows in the modern world are indeed everywhere right from the broadcast televisions, the internet, and cables. As a result, Reality Television programming have indeed led to generation of thousands of viewers who include among others audience mainly tuned in prime news hours as well as day time viewers (Huang & Lowry, 2015). However, despite the fact that such TV programs are quite popular, it is unfortunate that most of them depicted minority women in a negative manner and mostly portrayed them in domestic roles. It was ascertained that in circumstances where the minority women were featured in various TV shows, they were mostly features as being career professionals. However, the proportion of the minority women who were involved in such roles was quite low thus making them fail in getting equal benefits, roles, and opportunities as their other counterparts (Carter, 2016). It was further noted that even though tremendous success had been achieved in such reality programs, the role of minority and gender representations in such programs have not been effectively explored. This is because even though such reality TV shows contained numerous scenes that were directed, edited, and scripted in order to influence the perception of the audience on the gender as well as minority groups, there was need to study them since they attracted a broad audience.
It was noted that TVs portrayed or depicted minority women in different ways and some studies indicated that women were known to be stereotyped and underrepresented in some Television programs. It was further realized that even though the there has been an increase in the number of minority women across the world, this has not been effectively reflected in media since some minority women in the United States such as the Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and the African Americans were rarely seen on the daytime television shows and even during the prime time hours (Behm-Morawitz, 2017). As a result, the lack of “minority women” representation and portrayal in such reality shows mirrored the lack of minority women in even other types of media representations programs. A good example where some of the famous TV shows have failed to capture the portrayal of minority women in Media is the “NBC’s top rated” reality show known as The Apprentice. In the show, the overall winner was given a six-figure salary job position in Trump organization and at most times, leaders of the batches of such applicants usually emerged as being the major characters in each of the weekly episodes that were featured. It is fact that the show actually featured a “Disproportionate number” of the white women who held numerous positions of leadership (Hill, 2016). This is because during the first show, the only African-American woman contestant was a controversial and problematic person who actually stood out above the rest due to her “Disagreeable demeanor”. It was noted that out of the five seasons, only one woman finally ended up as a final winner and of course as expected, she was not from the minority communities.
Even though the future of the reality Television seems to be bright, their programming has always been subject to the manipulations of producers and this implies that the number of minority women such as the African-Americans, Asian-American, and the Hispanic Americans who will be brought on board cannot be ascertained (Godwyn & Stoddard, 2011). That apart, it is also evident that the appearance and personalities of the minority women who will participate in such shows will not be easily ascertained.
The Depiction of the Black Woman as a Minority in the American society and media
Owing to the fact that the minority women have not been given equal portrayal in media as opposed to their counterparts, it is important to bring on board new considerations and academic research regarding the issue of gender as well as minority portrayals. This is quite important because it will help in the creation of sensitivity especially in developing future programs and initiatives that will help in enhancing positive portrayal of minority women in the reality shows. It was noted that even though the main aim of abolishing slavery was actually to give the black people the much needed freedom of governing their personal lives without being controlled by the whites, the white people were actually forced to come up with ways to ensure that their social control was maintained (Hill, 2016). It was argued that the need to have a social control system was based on the pretext of discrimination and prejudice against the black people and more so women that led to racial hierarchy patterns in various societies across the world. The racial hierarchy led to the positioning of the black women at the bottom line since they were known to possess the characteristics that were associated with the minority groups in the aspects of both gender and race.
In the modern American society, it is evident that black women and other minority women are actually less likely of having control and power than the white women, white men, and even black men. This is because the oppression of the black women as well as other minority women in the country has continued to prevail through numerous constructions that have been developed with an aim of reinforcing ideals regarding both inferiority and racial hierarchy (McCurn, 2018). It is argued that the presentation of Black women as well as other minority women in the contemporary times by the media has made their portrayal to become so low. It was suggested that mainstream film and media in general has been historically been applied in order to promote and enhance hegemonic stereotypes and notions regarding the Black woman as a minority and reinforced other conditions which are necessary in both supporting as well as maintaining the exploitation and control of their bodies. It was posited that the prevalence of Blacks in the film industry as producers and directors has greatly redefined the images that are associated with the Black community in the modern film and media industry (Booth, 2016).
Numerous researches have been carried out regarding the construction of the black women as the minority on both film and television. It is argued that there are thousands of images across the world that is known to portray the black women in a variety of positive roles. However, other researchers have argued that an analysis of different portrayals indicated that the black women have been highly sexualized due to the de-contextualization of their bodies. It is further argued that the black women as the minority are portrayed or depicted as being highly sexual since that is the image which the white European Americans actually want to depict. It was posited that such images that are put forth by the white European Americans actually served as being a justification for both the exploitation and the marginality of the Black women (Baumgärtel, 2015). The use of stereotypes on the black women as a minority limited the “range of behaviors” which viewers were willing and capable of ascribing to specified stereotyped groups. It was suggested that such characters ultimately reinforced the “preconceived notions” regarding the status quo of individuals who existed outside the mainstream society. On the other hand, the negative stereotyping of the black women presented the social functions for the justification of such portrayal.
It was asserted that it was actually through stereotyping that the “ruling majority in any society were capable of rationalizing their treatment of the individuals that they had designated as being inferior. Some of the film portrayals sought to depict the black women as not only being the minority but also being highly oversexed (Starosielski & Parks, 2015). The paradigms of power thus made the black women in television and other forms of media to be portrayed as not only being highly sexually but also as being “fair skinned mulattoes” and overweight. It is important to note that the images and portrayal of the black women as being the sexual beings in media was indeed developed during the colonial periods. This was the time when such black women were viewed and regarded as being objects of sexual gratification. It was further argued that culturally, the black women were viewed by the media as being “highly sexualized” individuals who lured unsuspecting and unaware white men towards depravity. The construction of media images of such minority women was thus responsible for the continuous ignorance of the minority women in majority of the mainstream media.
It was noted that most of the contemporary media supported the hegemony of Europeans as opposed to the minority women. Indeed, it was ascertained that some of the films which were recently created by the Black Film makers such as “She’s Gotta Have It” continued in the perpetuation of the representation and portrayal of the black women sexuality in a negative way. This implied that the Black film makers also contributed to the development and portrayal of the black women as well as their images in a negative way thus making it easier for the media to continue in serving the interests of the majority population (Davis-Secord, 2017). This therefore counters claims that it was only the white people that formulated as well as maintained negative stereotypes regarding the minority women and their contributions in the contemporary media. However, it is important to note that various authors have used different approaches in the studying of minority women prevailing in media. While others used historical materialisms as a methodology theory to suggest and imply that mainstream film was used in the exploitation of the back women, others used the idea of the mammy as being desexualized and non-threatening.
Black entertainers’ Dilemma
Since the wake of film and television, people of black heritage faced numerous drawbacks to exemplify their personal life stories because the industry was captained by white directors who only portrayed what aligned to their assumptions. Nonetheless, the mid-70s were iconic years as they occasioned a change in mindset with the advent of exploitation. In this realm, the manner in which the movies were scripted was changed, and most directors used the media as an avenue to speak up against racially driven biases that were intended to protract blacks as inferior (Benshoff, H. M., & Griffin, 2011). More specifically, the films in question often targeted the younger generation of black people, reminding them of the need to oppose white oppressors and supremacists. Taking advantage of the public penetration, the directors positively used the media channels to challenge racist individuals based on the satirical shows that were aimed at proving that color is just color, and neither measures intelligence or superiority.
At the end of the day whether white or black, people have the capacity to rise and achieve under similar conditions. This was especially presented through the plantation movies, where black characters that were previously invisible unless they were receiving orders from their white ‘masters’ became active in lead characters such as playing rebels that succeeded later, upon challenging the system. It is also vital to note that the media outlets factored immensely in popularizing the civil rights movement as the broadcasts reiterated not just the numbers that were behind the iconic transformation but their unwavering resolve as well (Bleich, Bloemraad & De Graauw, 2015). In the end, there was a shift in public perception since the revolutionists positions were no longer considered retrogressive and insignificant but as crucial eye-openers to the challenges the minority groups continually battled.
When the media industry became saturated by black directors, one would assume that serious political agendas would be driven across as originally planned challenging the inequalities that were inherent in society, designed to ‘second-class’ minorities. Ironically, there emerged a tide that glorified violence against the white people and societal institutions that were perceived as the enemy. With widened audiences, the films no longer contained strong messages but we’re used as avenues for representing black mediocrity. For instance, the black women were often portrayed as naturally drama thirsty, birthing serious stereotypes. According to Cacciatore and others (2016), it can be accentuated that the popularity of these kind of films on the wider public were greatly fuelled by depiction of misconstrued prejudices held by non-blacks. As such, black entertainers should bear in mind the long term impacts of the prejudiced misrepresentations that shape society’s attitude towards people of minority origin. In other words if the filmmakers think lowly of themselves, and their heritage then it is hypocritical to fault whites and their adoption of the same. Contrarily, resources should be directed toward the production of great content such as Singleton’s Boyz N the Hood. Black media personnel need to understand the extra responsibility they have in occasioning a shift in the wrongly held narrative by using the platforms they already have to debunk the retrogressive portrayal of minority groups.
Recently, black comedians have taken the initiative to use their art to dispel the many stereotypes embraced by white people regarding growing up a black. Problem is, packaging the issue as a joke has led to the achievement of the inverse of what was intended since they contribute to even more negative stereotypes regarding black people (Davis et al. 2019). For instance, Chris Rock, who is at the epitome of his comedy career, has always protracted commitment to build bridges between blacks and whites through his comedy. His approach entails boldly speaking of his personal conceptions on various races. This way, the assumption is that the audience can learn to appreciate diversity as what makes everyone special, and not inferior. In his acts, he explicates the widely held prejudices, which despite not admitting publicly— the audience laughs uncontrollably to since ideally it matches what everyone is thinking but too afraid to raise. It is crucial to understand that most white people acknowledge the fact that not all black women are violent drama queens and gold diggers, based on the many upstanding examples markedly Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama.( Georgiou, 2012). Detours from previous arguments and reiterates the widely held position that argues that the media is solely responsible for the heightened stereotyping is misconstrued. This is because of the values passed across generations where the early teachings on race and prejudices in the children’s formative period sticks with them to old age. Going by this logic then efforts should be directed to pruning the racist elements while parents still have control over their children. In the long run, it all tones down to validation or condemnation of positions.
Gendered media and Minority Women
Over the years a lot of effort has been directed towards delineating the gendered media. In this light, researchers have also noted that beyond the border gender related stereotypes lie serious issues anchored on the women’s race (Monahan, Shtrulis & Givens, 2005). In other words, inasmuch as the media has been regarded paternalistic where men are celebrated as heroes as women are accorded mere roles in films, minority women suffer the most.
It is quite evident that in the modern mediated and consumption-oriented society, majority of what comes to happen is at most times based on the stories which have been produced as well as disseminated by media firms. As a result, majority of what the media audiences know and get concerned about is usually based on the narratives, symbols, and images in television, music, film, radio, and other forms of media. This implies that how people in the world develop their social identities and how they come to comprehend what it implies to be female, male, black, Asian, Native American, Latino or even urban or rural is highly shaped by the commodified texts that have been produced or developed by media for consumption by audiences that have become increasingly segmented through the social constructions of both gender and race (Meret, 2015). Media thus greatly represents the social realities that have a great impact on people. On the assertion that the media has been negatively portraying minority women, scholars argued that the audiences cannot be actually forced into performing the gender scripts that have been developed by the media. Indeed, it was noted that the fragmentation and sophistication of the media did not prevent the media texts from being “ideological” in any way.
It seems that the representation of media on gender has now become highly sophisticated with time and thus provided a variety of scripts to select from. However, some other authors assert that the portrayals of media are not in any way neutral since they are highly grounded in the modern ideological discourses and assumptions regarding the belief systems and worldviews and more specifically gender (Happel-Parkins & Esposito, 2015). It was noted that even though the media texts seemed to be open to numerous interpretations, the opportunities to use such interpretations in challenging dominant ideologies were known to be either non-existent or limited. In some of the media texts, women are cast in the mother role and thus tasked with the responsibility of not only giving birth but also nurturing and raising children. A mother is depicted by the media as a person who is capable of sacrificing herself and also mourning loved ones.
The media sometimes depicts women as whores and sex whose existence is framed as being threatening and tantalizing to men and also whose fate is punishment as victims of exploitation and violence. The glorification of the external appearance of women as being the “most central characteristic” is known to be directly associated to the overemphasis of the media on the portrayal of minority women as being sexual beings or objects whose main functions are relegated to male objects for the fulfillment of male pursuit and sexual desire (Mishra, 2018). This is the major reasons which there are dominant media messages that are aimed at promotion of restrictive ideologies that embraces femininity, glorifies heterosexual romances as the major goal for women and encourages the domination of men in numerous relationships. The media has also been responsible for dismissing the validity of women’s desires and sexual feelings and instead emphasized the desire that men have for them.
It was noted that even though some media firms across the world makes attempts aimed at avoiding stereotyping as well as impartiality and unfairness in media contents, some of them were known to suffer partiality. It was further noted that stereotype statements that existed in news bulletins were regarded as being unavoidable phenomena that emanated as a result of numerous factors in news production processes (Lai, Lim & Higgins, 2015). It was ascertained that some of the news stories that were produced with stereotyping statements regarding the minority groups such as women helped in the development of negative attitudes about the firms.
The Minorities and the Migrants’ underrepresentation in Media
Some Women migrants in countries overseas are deemed to be minorities and at times, they are usually underrepresented and depicted by media as being delinquents. It is asserted that even though the framing of media was different for the specific migrant minority groups and the discourses that were used, it was noted that the immigration coverage by the media was not only negative but they were also conflict centered (Kim, Lee & Oh, 2017). Repetitive exposure of the minority women who are immigrants to negative messages thus resulted in negative attitudes by other people towards the issue of migration thus not only leading to enforcement of stereotypical approaches towards such groups but also having a great impact on the voting decisions. It was also noted that the female migrants were also less visible to media and therefore making it difficult for the media channels to portray them in a positive way.
According to research, it was confirmed that ethnic minorities and migrants were quite underrepresented in most of the media channels as opposed to the respective number of individuals who lived in a given nation. It was noted that the coverage of news was known to overwhelmingly focus on the fate of refugees while providing less coverage for labour migration. However, based on a study that was carried out by the British Television programmes, it was indicated that there has been an increase in media representation of the ethnic minorities (Nemoto, 2016). It was noted that this was associated to public broadcasting stations rules that required such firms to abide or adhere to the “normative standards of diversity”. However, it was further noted that the female migrants as a minority group were highly disadvantaged in coverage by the media since they were less visible as opposed to the male immigrants. It was further noted that British newspapers that the visibility of minority and migrant actors was known to increase with “their obtrusiveness” towards the reporting nation. For instance, migration of individuals from the Eastern Europe was highly discussed in the year 2014 when the Bulgarian and Romanian migrants were known to have obtained access to different labour markets across the European Union.
It was noted that differences in farming may actually be caused as a result of varying or differences in the editorial approaches that were embraced by various or different media channels. For instance, while the tabloid papers tended to deliberately cover issues to do with immigration in a more negative way as opposed to the highbrow press, some other media outlets tended to highly focus on various aspects of immigration debates (Douai & Perry, 2018). For instance, the cultural frame was known to be more prevalent in some media discourses regarding the integration of immigrants while the welfare, economic, and labour frames were more prevalent on the questions to do with the actual immigration. It was further ascertained that negativity as well as certain tones towards issues to do with immigration and the migrant groups were known to vary between the different media genres. It was revealed that a comparison of the different formats of television indicated that the ethnic minorities were actually portrayed in a more positive manner in talk shows as opposed to any other television programs (Bahfen, 2018). Averagely, it was noted that television news tended to depict immigrants and the issue of immigration in more negative ways as opposed to the print news.