Modern mass culture has a significant impact on our lives, shaping our views, our preferences, and actively participating in our development. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how exactly the media affect us. In modern society, there is an acute problem of gender roles and the way the media establishes them for men and women. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of media in women’s development and to draw conclusions about the possible consequences of portraying women in media.
Mass culture has many different forms: from familiar books and films to comics and video games. For an example of the image of a woman, let us discuss the trailer for the still unreleased movie Wonder Woman 1984. This film in itself is a vivid instance of mass culture, as it serves as an adaptation of characters belonging to the famous DC Comics (“Wonder Woman 1984 – Official Trailer”). Its protagonist is Wonder Woman, a heroine named Diana, who has extraordinary abilities that help her fight for justice. The early feminists served as the inspiration for Wonder Woman, and she, in turn, served as the inspiration for the feminist movement as a whole (“Wonder Woman”). The new film is promoting the same concept and idea, positioning Diana as an independent character, capable of deciding her destiny and fighting for her ideals. Thus, the trailer for the film “Wonder Woman 1984” is a clear example of a female gender role, which departs from the outdated and stereotypical image of a woman as an exceptionally weak gender.
Many well-known theories regarding gender roles have another perspective on the position of women in society. Such, for example, are the works of Freud and his belief that one of the leading feminine qualities is passivity (Hyde 33). However, most of these works are outdated and have lost their relevance. Recently both in popular culture and in scientific works, the issue of sexism against women has been increasingly raised. Lewis cites as an example of a study according to which each of the women participating in it reported cases of daily sexism associated with the imposition of stereotypes and prejudices (Lewis 387). Given the relevance and urgency of this issue, it is not surprising that every year more and more examples like the above movie appear in the media. Society tries to prove that a woman can stand beside a man, not behind him, and that she can be free from sexism.
Naturally, such examples of media affect society and women in particular. What could be the potential consequences of the influence of media on people’s attitudes and behavior? For example, a bright, memorable character can serve as a role model for people. Returning to the case under discussion, the role model of Wonder Woman can motivate women to defend their rights and manifest themselves more vividly as a person. As Yoder and Kahn write, the social context, the environment of a woman can positively influence her. If a woman believes that a man is better than her in some business, then her results will be worse, and vice versa (Yoder, Kahn et al. 284). Accordingly, with an improvement in the social context, women’s lives can become more productive and healthy, since the amount of psychological pressure will decrease.
Thus, we can conclude that in modern culture, the media have a significant impact on us. Since there were certain gender roles for women and specific stereotypes in society for a very long time, confronting them is not an easy task. However, every year the number of media products that raise issues of sexism and the role of women in society is increasing. They are shedding light on problematic aspects, and make people discuss them. Ultimately, it leads to better living conditions for women, positively affects their psychological health, and helps them realize themselves as individuals.
Hyde, Janet. Half the Human Experience: The Psychology of Women. 7th ed., Houghton Mifflin, 2007, pp. 30-84.
Lewis, Jioni. “From Modern Sexism To Gender Microaggressions: Understanding Contemporary Forms of Sexism and Their Influence on Diverse Women.” APA Handbook of the Psychology of Women, edited Cheryl B. Travis and Jacquelyn W. White, American Psychological Association, Vol.1, 2018, pp. 381–397.
“Wonder Woman.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 2020, Web.
“Wonder Woman 1984 – Official Trailer”. YouTube, uploaded by Warner Bros. Pictures. 2019, Web.
Yoder, Janice, and Kahn, Arnold, et al. “Making Gender Comparisons More Meaningful: A Call for More Attention to Social Context.” Psychology of Women Quarterly, vol. 27, no. 4, 2003, pp. 281-290.