Shaping our culture: How technology and society help to inadequately define gender roles through mass communications

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Equality issues surrounding women is not a new subject. Throughout the times the female counterpart has been expected to meet the demands of the society surrounding her—especially in regards to body standards. Technology and many of its current uses making that ever more apparent.

Everywhere one goes (or does not go as content finds us wherever we are) magazine covers and spreads, commercials, billboards, social media campaigns, news articles, legislation, and product advertisements like this from Carls Jr./Hardees conveys a lot about what is wrong with our society and its view on women as objects:

After watching I thought the impassive reality, it is what it is. But frankly I’m disappointed technology seems to further illuminate inadequate gender roles, identities and appearances through mass communications, advertising, music and more (Hu, 2015, para 2).

For instance, social media platforms like Instagram found out when they banned the hashtag #curvy, women of all shapes and sizes were outraged at the discrimination as well as the platform’s response on the ban stating the tag was “being used to share images and videos that violated Instagram’s community guidelines around nudity”, yet hashtags like tittyf**k currently remain active (Vagianos, 2015, para 1, 5). This isn’t the first time that Instagram has been under the microscope for it’s attempt at censorship on women’s bodies either, having a history of blocking content that involves women’s nipples, pubic and other bodily hair, and menstrual blood (Vagianos, 2015, para 4). Normal facts and facets of life that are frequently shamed yet in our current society videos of beheadings become a viral sensation. I can’t help but to see an imbalance between the content of our messages and the culture it’s attempting to shape.

However, the same technology that is bringing a daily awareness to issues amongst our culture is also a means and tool to combat the very problem. Media personifying unrealistic gender roles as means to influence, control or otherwise manipulate has also afforded the opportunity for those once without a recognized voice to openly push back against those various systems and close-minded ideologies. Professional communicators have a role in fostering such societal changes. According to the Society of Professional Journalists professional communicators should be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable and to give voice to the voiceless, regardless of gender, race, age, etc. (SPJ, 2014, para 13).

Check out this article ‘11 Projects That Will Inspire You to Fight Gender Stereotypes’ to see how some are working to shape a world of change and equality.

References

Hu, N. (2015). If we want equality, then we must stop perpetuating gender roles. Retrieved from: http://harvardpolitics.com/harvard/want-equality-must-stop-perpetuating-gender-roles/

Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). (2014, September 6). SPJ Code of Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

Vagianos, A. (2015). Women are protesting instagram’s #curvy ban with body-positive photos. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/women-are-protesting-instagrams-ban-of-the-word-curvy_55acf7a7e4b0d2ded39f54b1

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