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To what extent do broadcast media sexually objectify women?

For years there has been arguments between feminists and modern feminists on
the existence of sexual objectification issues in broadcast media. Feminists suggested
that media is exploiting women sexually through words, clothes and stereotyping of
womens roles. In contrast, modern feminists actually found that women nowadays are
aware of and have embraced their sexuality as source of power and identity.
This topic is important because for some, it is a recognizable issue in society and
not for others. For instance, are women simply being objectified? Or are the media
actually appreciating womens sexuality?
Therefore, by looking at two different perspectives, feminists and modern
feminists, we are able to get an objective point of view. The contradiction of opinions
and different interpretations of the word objectification are interesting to be look at.
Hence, I am interested in investigating the objectification that occurs in the
broadcast media. Consequently, I will provide some background to my question in a
more detailed manner and by specifying further research which I intended to do to reach
a reasonable understanding of the issue.

During the 1950s, sexual portrayal of women was not perceived to be a big issue
and it was part of societal norm. Shifting the view to broadcast media, as stated by
Friedan (1963), ads in the 1950s were mainly male-controlled and women are
portrayed in a sexual demeaning light based on the captions, for example, in the 1960sera, advertisement was made for Weyenberg Shoe Manufacturing Company (now
known as Weyen Group). The captions of keep her where she belongs, with the image
of a naked women lying beside one pair of shoe, clearly portrayed women as a sex
object. This left no space for other type of interpretation since the chauvinism is
However, as Pandhe (1988) put it, womens rights movements originated
in the 1800s, but only in the 1960s and 1970s after influence from the Civil
Rights Movement did a wave of womens rights activists successfully gain
enough momentum to receive recognition as the true Womens Movement.
During the movement in the 1960s, media representation of women was also one of the
most heated topics discussed. Based on a study done by Kristina Malinauskaite at the
University of Colorado, she found that sexual objectification of the female body are done
by presenting women in scantily clad clothing, perhaps even nude with simply
the product covering them, or the body is dismembered in order to show
only a leg or cleavage. She also suggested that it is not just merely sexual problems
but the problem lies in the objectification.
Last but not least, a study found that although young women dislike the
objectification in advertising, they did not find it offensive and even regarded it as
culturally acceptable, hence even when they disagree with the sexual imagery, they
accept it as a natural part of society (Zimmerman & Dahlberg, 2008). These womens
attitudes are reflected when they did not deter themselves from buying the products and
they also did not regard the advertisement to be reflecting the companies general

Intend to do some more broad text-based research to explore this sexual
objectification matter further. I would like to explore more on the modern feminists
viewpoint to search whether all the women nowadays does not necessarily dislike the
sexual depiction and what exactly is the reason behind the ignorant attitude shown by
women back in the 1950s. Do women view female sexuality portrayed as an
empowerment and identity?
From the searching I have done so far using Victoria University library database
as well as using the internet as one of the method of finding resources, I have identified
the following texts that gives the assurance to be a credible and useful sources.
1. Jansen, S. C. (2008), Rethinking Social Justice Scholarship in Media and
Communication. Communication, Culture &Critique, 1 : 329 334, DOI:
This book is mainly about social justice in media which includes gender
stereotyping. Therefore, I would like to include it as my reference because it
defines social justice contextually and explained more on the global human right
culture and mainly focuses on media and social justice.
2. Zimmerman, A., Dahlberg, J., (2008). The Sexual Objectification of Women in
Advertising: A Contemporary Cultural Perspective. Retrieved from Journal of
Advertising Research. (p. 71 79).
This literature review focuses on the way women nowadays view how media
portrayed them and show a different point of view such as the acknowledgement
of the major contemporary shift that portrays how modern women actually use
their sexual powers to achieve their goals hence sexuality is viewed as a source
of empowerment.
3. Tuchman, G. (1979). Womens Depiction by The Mass Media: Signs. Published
by The University of Chicago Press. Vol. 4, No. 3. (pp. 528 542)
This book emphasizes mainly on how women were portrayed before and after
the existence of womens right movement. Although this book is dated a little bit
older, I find it to be very useful for the comparing method and the relevance of
ideas still exists and applicable.

4. Gallagher, M. (2001). The Push and Pull Action and Research in Feminists Media
Studies, 1:1, 11 15. Published online: 14 Dec 2010. Retrieved from Taylor &
Francis Group. DOI:10.1080/14680770120042774
This online journal focuses on feminists point of view and their arguments on
why and what are the reasons they fought for womens right in media. This is a
very helpful source for me to be used as one of my references because it
highlighted on the dangerous modernity attitude that occurs amongst women
nowadays whereby indirectly, contradicts my other reference.
5. Malinauskaite, K. Perpetuation of Sexual Objectification &Silencing of Women.
Critical Analysis. Retrieved from University of Colorado at Dexter.
This is a research paper of a student from University of Colorado which focuses
on the actual meaning of the word objectification and the negative impact that it
has on society. I wish to include this paper in my research because it explained in
detail the occurrences of psychological disorder among women as the result of
objectification presented by media and she also quoted several other studies to
support which increases the level of reliability.
6. Friedan, B. (1963). The Feminine Mystique. New York: W.W. Norton. Retrieved
from OCLC WorldCat.
This book was recognized as one of the central works of the modern women's
movement in time which sparked a national debate about women's roles back in
the days. This book illustrates how women had been denied the opportunity to
develop their own identities hence, it is significant to the research that I am doing.