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1.0 Background to the Study
Gender issues in the media have created a climate of controversy among scholars in the manner in which males and females are represented, (Broude & Garrard, 1995). Feminists have take upon themselves to challenge the patriarchal male friendly social structure inherent in the media in a bid to place females in the same level with their male counterparts, not only in production of media works but also in all spheres of human life. The post-modernism feminist declaration of "our bodies, ourselves", a clout of women repossessing power over their bodies, maybe be termed as a stepping stone of females in the fight against their inhuman sexual representation in the media, (Carson, Dittmar & Welsch, 1994). Females in the real world have been held captive by barriers created by men for selfish purposes. These male precipitated barriers are set upon women through the patriarchal culture that seemingly aims at converting (or even reinstating) a woman as the pleaser of man and a source of sexual desire.
A close study in the representations of female and male subjects in advertisements and music videos reveals shocking revelations in the manner in which women are depicted as overly submissive, inactive and portrayed significantly in terms of their sexuality and domesticity while men are depicted as in control, overly active, authoritative. Many feminist studies into the mass media have further revealed that women tend to be shown as submissive, passive and are portrayed largely in terms of their sexuality or domesticity while men tend to be shown as dominant, active and authoritative, (Chadwick, 1990).
1.2 Research Objectives
The proposed study intends to
I. To investigate the manner in which female are depicted in adverts especially pictorial adverts in selected magazines
II. To investigate how females are depicted in music videos.
III. To investigate the implications of such depiction to the general female public.
1.3 Research Hypotheses
This study will seek to approve or disapprove the following hypotheses:
I.That females are depicted as symbols of beauty and incarnate seduction aimed to lure men into wild consumption of products.
II. Females are depicted as symbols of sex and seduction in many secular pop music videos.
III. The inherent misrepresentation of female body and sexuality has a long term negative effect to the general female public
1.4 Statement of the problem
As a matter of Social Psychological importance, female sexuality representation in the media (adverts and music videos) has become a great matter interest in the modern society. In many societies of the world, female sexuality has been viewed as satisfaction to egos of male sexuality and an aspect which must be censored by the norms of the same society by the use of the 'an-upright woman's' yardstick. The representation of female sexuality is an issue that has successfully travelled from the pre-historic period to today. Most of adverts and music videos in the media are provocative and notoriously valuable in terms of analyzing the diversity and the shadowed potentiality of female sexuality. A few discourses on media and female representation have showed the way into the female subject and as a result of it, the progression of the female sexual identity in feminism is the dilemma seen to argue different thoughts and point of views on the subject of female sexuality and the female body in many adverts and music videos.
Regrettably, social psychology research work has channeled its efforts to other areas of study that have, of course, been exhausted, at the detriment of sociological this new and unexplored sociological phenomenon. An informed study that will unravel the manner in which female body is being used in media adverts and music videos to mark the identity and gender has thus been necessitated. It is this divine academic call that this study is intended to answer and further provide at least a starting and a reference point for future social psychology studies in Identity, gender and sexuality use in the media. And as this research will prove in later there is a socially significant way in which female sexuality misrepresentation reveals itself in adverts and music videos.
1.5 Significance of the study
This study is very significant. As new media applications are created and embraced, it follows that new and sophisticated virtual environments for human communication have been created as we approach the 21st century and there is no doubt that with the current representation of females in music videos and adverts a closer study is important. If social psychology research work confines itself on the traditional environments of human sociology, a very wide gap will be created between how gender is perceived in the real world and the virtual world of adverts and music videos.
Such gap is already emerging. However, this study is punctual and objective in a manner that will enhance understanding on how females are being represented in adverts and music videos. Furthermore, this study will act as a trigger towards ensuring that social psychology research work on media activities channels efforts towards unraveling the complex but practical nature of gender.
1.6 Limitations of the study
It is worth pointing at this stage that this study foresees the following challenges and limitations.
2.0 Literature Review and Theoretical Frame Work
2.1 Female Representation in a Beauty Products Campaign
Very little literature exists in the manner in which females are depicted in adverts and music videos. Only a few studies have been conducted in the recent past in this area. This few researches have however made significant remarks in the direction sought by this proposed research.
According to Broude & Garrard (1995), in the light of socio-cultural dimensions, women are depicted in a disturbing stereotypical manner in many audio-visual commercials and print advertisements. Many advertisements capitalize on representation of females' sexuality that has the power to arouse the emotional feelings of many men and fellow females, (Broude & Garrard, 1995). These representations of female sexuality in advertisements, as Broude & Garrard (1995) say, have a great effect on the self-esteem and self-image of women. Of great importance is the manner in which females' view has been shaped and anticipated of the controversial representation of female sexuality. Broude & Garrard (1995) further says, the depictions of female sexuality which are more inherent in nudity are injurious regardless of whether such depictions have a reference to the legal and regulatory aspects of the portrayal of women in the media.
By depicting the power possessed by women in terms of beauty and other qualities that provoke male admiration, adverts in beauty products constantly attract the attention of the readers to the extend that consumers can be convinced to buy commodities they do not need or that actually do not result in the beauty portrayed by the female half- nude, (Chadwick, 1990). The feminist themes of adverts depend on beauty per se and seem to act upon the female hidden power symbolized by the 'Natural Honey' female subject's unparalleled beauty. In this regard, females are also depicted as worshippers of beauty itself as Is depicted by the subject females in adverts picture who have an insatiable craving for beautiful things. They fancy a life where beauty defines it all: posing by beautiful houses, half dressed in flashy dresses, bracelets, golden jewelry and times by rich and authoritative male companions.
2.2 Females and Males as depicted in Music Videos
As we approach the 21st century, the society has gained significant consumerist traits. In this consumerist society, media has become one of the key money spinners through music videos and production, (Felix, 1975). Music videos have gained an international acclamation in the manner in which they have come to play a major role in the career launching of musicians. Music videos are very popular amongst the youths who represent the future perceptions and world's view in the future. In the influence sake of this type of videos, their contributions in gender discourses and opinion formulation across the gender divide are very significant.
In the recent past, discussions of female and male representations in the media have taken up gender representations in music videos as one of the major areas of analysis. Revelations have shown that male dominance and depiction of females as males' sources of sexual satisfaction have continued to dominate the music video production. Though a lot of damage has already been created insofar as depiction of women in music videos is concerned, these depictions have the potential to influence the conduct of many women, and to nurture the views of many young people to all genders, (Hunt, 1991). Depiction of women in music, in short, is evidently a very importance issue in any society.
Female depiction adds to the wide spread depiction of females as beings possessed by wild sexual desires. According to (Nead & Lynda, 1992), the presentations of erotic and sexual female nudes in many pop music videos like the one under study, associates females with a devilish sexual desire that is hard to satisfy that endlessly burns them inside.
There are many destructive music videos which provoke their viewers to sex and in many cases, the female subjects are heavily tasked with the duty to over work themselves trying to lure some disenchanted male, (Hunt, 1991). The female subject is made to strip naked and make strange poses that signify her wild urge to make sex. The matter becomes shocking when the half naked female subjects (the fraction is only euphemistic) are made to crowd round a single fully dressed male and are trying to arouse him. It should be noted that the intended sexual arousal is not just meant for the males in the video's cast but also the wider number of males in the audience.
One of the major depictions of males in music videos is authoritative and masculine nature. Males in many music videos are violent even when making love or romancing their female counterparts. Males are very authoritative in the manner in which they handle the females around them in many pop music videos. Other music videos, like Eminem's songs 'kim', appear to perpetuate both direct and indirect violence against women.
Females make up a greater percentage of the gender that buys most of these music videos and many have been hurt by the manner in which they are presented in music videos, (Chadwick, 1990). Any female watching these videos will wonder why all the females crowd around a male and try to seduce him while he takes no notice of them and goes on looking for other. In the music video after 2 minutes and a second, Lil Wayne is standing by the entrance of a fancy hotel and with his hands gestures as though to invite the viewer into the big party. As the camera is panned inside the hotel, the audience beholds a bevy of almost naked females dancing enticingly and invitingly. Apart from Lil and his co-rapper, there are no other males, and the females, burning with desire, opt to make suggestive moves at the audience- an effect realized by the zooming of the camera.
The irony as far gender representation in music is concerned is that, despite the widely held view that exposing the female's body arouses sexual feelings and therefore nudity and sexual arousal are intertwined, males in the music videos are properly dressed and do not expose their body significantly, (Nead & Lynda, 1992). In Brick and Lace's Bad to di bone, male dancers are heavily clothed while the female ones, including the two female twin artists (Brick and Lace), have their bodies significantly exposed. Under normal circumstances, one would expect that both the female and the male should embrace some sort of nudity for the two to be sexually arousing to each other.
3.0 Theoretical Framework
Since the research bases on the feminist theory, it is imperative to have a glimpse of who a feminist theorist is. In essence, a feminist theorist is someone whose main aim is understanding gender as a system of meanings assigned to individuals through various institutions such as law, medicine and entertainment, rather than as an innate fact. The feminist theory asserts that understanding gender as a system of assigned meanings, directly affects how men and women understand their bodies, their individual lives and how social institutions operate.
As feminist theorists, there is importance in maintaining the perception of the present perceiving the present gender systems as those that function in a way that the basic binary opposition of masculine and feminine. This means that gender relations remain at a balance such that both the masculine and feminine tiers have equal privileges.
Feminist theory bases its arguments on the premise that most of the masculine privileges function mostly at the level of representation. Ironically, this does not involve politics. Some of this areas of representation that the feminist theorist consider are the usage of 'universal he' in English, the male gaze in classical film especially in Hollywood, the use of political rape of women as a way to illustrate military power and the biased persecution of women s compared to men with regard to prostitution. The ways of presentation of the above scenarios actually demonstrate how effective representational power works as a tool for silencing, eliminating and ridiculing the views of women. The imbalances between the genders are wrong as ascertained by feminists and thus need to be changed. In fact, there is always a debate between the activists (feminists) and the feminist theorist. The activists often assert that the required change is unachievable by simply talking about it, it is imperative that some degree of participation is present.
According to Dr. Mary Klages, politics is always about change and propositions to make changes, but the first priority is having the prospects as to the importance of implementing the changes. Ascertaining the benefiters of the changes need to be evaluated to come up with good policies that are rational. Thus, the ways of presenting our relations and their comprehension to the material world and to material practices is the major objective of politics. In true, the contemplation of the effects of changes and the possible effects they have on the society is one of the basic tenets of the feminist theory.
4.0 Implications of the Anticipated Findings
The issue of gender is a very notorious issue in any society. It at times forms the basis upon which conflicts that threaten the success of a society are precipitated. For any society to thrive, males and females (and hermaphrodites if any) should co-exist in peace, respect and tolerance. In achieving this gender-conflict free society, the media must ensure that gender representations do not infringe the dignity or perpetuate negative perception of a certain gender. Advertisements and music videos should not base their subjects on gender stereotypes, but should be informed by the basic concept and view of religion that all human beings are equal. The poor depictions of females and males in the media have so far had far reaching negative implications and they should be corrected soon before their problems become too sophisticated for out problem solving tools to handle.
Many pictures of females in advertisements clearly reinstate the female sexuality presentation based on the principle amongst advertising companies that women should be pulled into the trap of the patriarchal culture by putting emphases on their sexuality to create the female sexual identity. The discourses that emerge in favor or disfavor of such representations have failed to save female subjects in adverts from the negative labeling in society. While many television stations like MTV and BET have been able to vet music videos to allow for only those that depict females as purely lovers of beauty, the truth is many artists, both male and female, have insisted on producing music videos that explore female nudity and sexuality. This truth accounts for the presence of music videos like the two studied in the music market. The matter becomes more confusing when its considered that such music videos belong to the world's number one hit songs like, 'Touch my body' by Mariah Carey, Bootilious and 'Single Ladies' by Beyonce who are both females.
The males always have a privilege over the feminine gender. The effect of this privileging is that there is a higher rate of men occupying positions of power in institutions such as the government, education and even in the entertainment industry. There is truth in the claim that other variables such as race, age, class, education, physical ability, sexual preference and nationality have an effect on the assigning of top powerful positions between genders in institutions. The only thing that the feminist theorists maintain is that all the above variables held constant or them being equal, which is very critical, ultimately come down to men yielding more social power than women.