Historical and contemporary society has for long been characterized by inequalities such as race, class and gender. However, the most common types of inequalities are gender and racial ones towards females. …
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To this end, gender and racial inequalities have been advanced through the portrayal of certain female stereotypes. Incidentally, the pervasive stereotypes have been perpetrated by a variety of sources. However, the most common and ubiquitous source that has made significant efforts in the stereotyping of females has been the media. Brooke & Herbert (2006) have duly noted that audiences develop knowledge and ideologies based on the audio, visual and written products from music, film, radio, television and other media. According to the World Savvy Monitor, among the most common portrayal of women in the media include; the beautiful sex object, sainted wife and mother, the evil witch or scheming corporate and political climber. To this end, the media has not only promoted female stereotypes but also gone a step further in advancing multiracial feminist perspectives. Consequently, the media have been a leading culprit in portraying certain races of females by attaching various stereotypes. In effect, a litany of some of the female, racial perspectives portrayed in the media include African Americans, whites, Native American, Latin and Asian women (Brooke & Hebert, 2006). As a result, the media has been blamed in advancing an increasingly gendered and racial culture. To this end, the subsequent sections will delve into the role of the media in promoting prevalent gendered and racially maligned societies in relation to American females. Furthermore, the arguments advanced will seek to project the role of the media in projecting differences in cultural constructs among the different American women. Media and Female Representation According to Brooke & Herbert (2006), media plays a central role in determining what eventually constitutes social realities. Evidently, audio-visual and written commodities of media shape the audience perception on social identities such as black or white, rich or poor, male or female, Native American, Asian or Latino. Particularly, the racial and gender social constructs of females have been continuously shaped through stereotype identities by the media. To this end, a succinct definition of media representation is necessary before delving into its parameters in the portrayal of women. According to Alvarado, Gutch & Wollen (1987), media representation connotes the construction of dimensions of reality. Evidently, these constructions are depicted through media such as television, radio, social networking sites and written literature. Moreover, such constructions of reality include people, cultural identities or objects. Consequently, the constituents of cultural identities include race and gender. In reference to race and gender, the media has conditioned the perception of audiences in relation to the multi feminine representation of American women. In effect, divergent racial and gendered feminine stereotypes have emerged in society. To this end, the media portrays multi racial feminist perspective of the African Americans, whites, Native American, Asian Latina women communities. a. Media Portrayal of Black/African American Women The media portrayals of African-American women in historical cinema have been extensively critiqued in academic literatures. This has been due to the persistent stereotypical roles assigned to black women. For example, the mammy role assigned to Hattie McDaniel in the 1939 film, ‘Gone with the Wind,’ created a stereotypical image of black women (Manatu, 2003). The film stereotyped black women as servant females with obese, maternal figures that were desexualized. Other historical films before the 1970 included, ‘Jezebel’ that stereotyped African American women as sexually provocative. Moreover, the film ‘Sapphire’ portrayed black women as nagging, undesirable and
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