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Inequalities As Portrayed In The Media: A Gender Analysis

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Inequalities as Portrayed in the Media: A Gender Analysis

Media plays a big role in conventional Canadian society. It is becoming more and more influential and a bigger part of everyone’s daily lives. Since the invention and spread of the use of the printing press in the mid fifteen-hundreds, societies have been able to produce mass quantities of information available to the general public. Books were printed and made available to a large audience, replacing word of mouth communication about a society’s existence. Since then, various other forms of mass media have been created; including, radio networks, television programs, mass produced magazines, music and advertising. These are all examples of media that Canadians are exposed to in their day-to- day lives. Recently, through the invention of the internet, communication via the media has changed and no longer produced by a select few individuals and companies. Through personal web pages, pod casts and blogs, individuals are now able to produce mass media and information available to the general public (Gerber 2007).

Today, it can be argued, that exposure to various forms of media have shaped and defined the average Canadian’s understanding of what it means to be a certain person, as through media we learn about our own society. Communication is transferred from an individual or organization, which is then internalized by the perspective audience. The media then is not “simply a form of expression, it is rather a representation of a society’s beliefs, values and traditions вЂ" of its whole way of life. They, the representations, provide us with a framework for understanding” (Guantlett 2002). Since our society’s beliefs and values are communicated and shown through various forms of media, it is important then to analyse the messages sent to the public. Looking at certain medium provides valuable insight to the larger structures and components of Canadian society. Inequalities and enforced norms and values can be easily exposed when one looks in-depth at the communicated messages via the media. Since the inequalities are numerous, varied and based on many different things, this paper will focus mainly on gender representation and inequalities as portrayed in the media. While the media contains so many messages about men and women, and sexuality, it is not likely that these images and ideas have no impact on our identities. At the same time, mainstream society tends to feel that men and women are treated вЂ?equally’, in comparison to the situation before the feminist movements of the sixties and seventies. In 1982, Article 15 was entrenched in the Charter of Rights and Freedom stating that: “every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.” In the past thirty to forty years, a conscious effort has been made by Canadian society to diminish pre-existing inequalities based on sex in many different public institutions of society; including education, the workplace and the political sphere (Guantlett 2002). Since Canada is a capitalist country, inequalities can be displayed by differences in access to material gain; therefore, looking at income levels of different groups of people can show whether or not equality exists for everyone. A simple statistic stating that 28.9 percent of aboriginals and 24.3 percent of visible minorities, in comparison to only 16.9 percent of Canadians, will prove that inequalities exist in our society (Gerber 2007). This can also be applied to the issue of gender. The 2001, the Canadian census showed that the average annual earnings of women were only 61.6 percent of the average annual earnings of men (The Daily 2001). Looking at a statistic displaying such a large income gap leads one to conclude that inequalities still exist in Canada based on gender.

This paper will take in in-depth look at how gender is portrayed in selected various and current medium; including, song lyrics, magazines and national newspapers. It will argue that inequalities exist between men and women within society, and this is enforced through the communicated messages sent via media. It will take the standpoint that gender equality in the media would mean an equal representation of both sexes with a diversity of male and female roles.

In the world of music there are many different niches and types of music. From country to jazz, to hip-hop to local �indie’ bands, the world of music seems to have something for an endless variety of tastes and likings. When looking at music to assess gender inequalities, I will then focus on so-called �top hits’ in order to assure that the songs chosen have reached a large crowd, therefore influencing more people.

Last year, the well known G-Unit member 50-Cent added another top hit to the charts. His song вЂ?Just a Little Bit’ managed to be on the Top 100 songs of 2006, not to mention his achievements previous years with songs such as вЂ?Candy Shop’ and вЂ?In Da Club’ (Rolling Stone, 2007). The bottom line here is that 50-Cent is a well known rapper reaching many mainstream music listeners, especially the young. When taking a look at his lyrics to the song titled вЂ?Just a Little Bit’, the way in which women are portrayed and sung about is purely sexual. The song starts off with pretty much telling female listeners to вЂ?shake that thing’ for male enjoyment. As the song continues and leads into the chorus, 50-Cent sings about what he needs sexually and that it is expected that his female dance partner will accompany him home once the bar closes. After that, he takes the song even further when he states that he wishes to unbutton his partner’s pants. The chorus proceeds as follows: “I can show you how I live in a little bit, I wanna unbutton your pants in a little bit, take вЂ?em off pull them down just a little bit, get to kissin’ and touchin’ in a little bit” (50 Cent 2006). In this song, it can be argued that gender inequalities exist, as women are portrayed as having value sexually, and men are to be the dominant, go-getters of the two sexes. In my opinion, people listening to songs of this genre will be influenced by the lyrics and therefore begin to associate the gender roles outlined by 50-Cent in their daily lives with male and female sexes. Women are than viewed as sexual objects, while there is pressure on



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