Inequalities as Portrayed in the Media: a Gender Analysis

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Inequalities as Portrayed in the Media: A Gender Analysis
Media plays a big role in conventional Canadian society. It is becoming more and more influential and a bigger part of everyone’s daily lives. Since the invention and spread of the use of the printing press in the mid fifteen-hundreds, societies have been able to produce mass quantities of information available to the general public. Books were printed and made available to a large audience, replacing word of mouth communication about a society’s existence. Since then, various other forms of mass media have been created; including, radio networks, television programs, mass produced magazines, music and advertising. These are all examples of media that Canadians are exposed to in their day-to- day lives. Recently, through the invention of the internet, communication via the media has changed and no longer produced by a select few individuals and companies. Through personal web pages, pod casts and blogs, individuals are now able to produce mass media and information available to the general public (Gerber 2007). Today, it can be argued, that exposure to various forms of media have shaped and defined the average Canadian’s understanding of what it means to be a certain person, as through media we learn about our own society. Communication is transferred from an individual or organization, which is then internalized by the perspective audience. The media then is not “simply a form of expression, it is rather a representation of a society’s beliefs, values and traditions – of its whole way of life. They, the representations, provide us with a framework for understanding” (Guantlett 2002). Since our society’s beliefs and values are communicated and shown through various forms of media, it is important then to analyse the messages sent to the public. Looking at certain medium provides valuable insight to the larger structures and components of Canadian society. Inequalities and enforced norms and values can be easily exposed when one looks in-depth at the communicated messages via the media. Since the inequalities are numerous, varied and based on many different things, this paper will focus mainly on gender representation and inequalities as portrayed in the media. While the media contains so many messages about men and women, and sexuality, it is not likely that these images and ideas have no impact on our identities. At the same time, mainstream society tends to feel that men and women are treated ‘equally’, in comparison to the situation before the feminist movements of the sixties and seventies. In 1982, Article 15 was entrenched in the Charter of Rights and Freedom stating that: “every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.” In the past thirty to forty years, a conscious effort has been made by Canadian society to diminish pre-existing inequalities based on sex in many different public institutions of society; including education, the workplace and the political sphere (Guantlett 2002). Since Canada is a capitalist country, inequalities can be displayed by differences in access to material gain; therefore, looking at income levels of different groups of people can show whether or not equality exists for everyone. A simple statistic stating that 28.9 percent of aboriginals and 24.3 percent of visible minorities, in comparison to only 16.9 percent of Canadians, will prove that inequalities exist in our society (Gerber 2007). This can also be applied to the issue of gender. The 2001, the Canadian census showed that the average annual earnings of women were only 61.6 percent of the average annual earnings of men (The Daily 2001). Looking at a statistic displaying such a large income gap leads one to...
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