Study Finds Men Called On As Experts on Women’s Issues

I noticed this on an episode of the Today Show. The panel included 2 men and 1 woman. The topic? Do women want to see females depicting violence in the media? I thought then, why the hell do you have 2 men on the panel? It’s absurd yet it happens all the time. Can’t we speak for ourselves?

(Ironically, this article is written by a male!)

Men Dominate Discussion of Women’s Issues in Media: Study

When it comes to abortion, men were quoted 81 percent of the time. Women were quoted just 12 percent of the time. Birth control? A 75-19 gap. Planned Parenthood? 67-26. The findings are even more damning when we consider the fact that all three issues took a turn dominating the political discourse during the period of the study.

Silenced Gender Gap in Election Coverage

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Representing Aging Women in the Media

New Dynamics of Ageing

Report –

Representing Self-Representing Ageing
Look at Me! Images of Women & Ageing

Key Findings
Women in their 50s–60s felt more pressure from media and advertising imagery compared with participants in their 80–90s.
Eighty-eight per cent of visitors to the project exhibitions wanted to see more images of older women, like those created through the
project, displayed in public.

Participants captured various experiences from continued public involvement, friendships and fun to fears of increasing limitations and invisibility. Images challenged stereotypes such as the ‘grumpy old woman’ and reflected rarely represented grief and loss.
Participants wanted to see more images of ‘ordinary’ older women who were still ‘making a contribution’.

Images produced by participants showed that women experience ageing at the site of the body, for example in the form of wrinkles and
greying hair. Participatory visual methods gave women a sense of solidarity and ownership of the research process, impacting on well-being and a feeling of public validation.

Look at Me!

The New Dynamics of Ageing Project was launched in Sheffield in October 2009. The research project, based at the Department of Sociological Studies at The University of Sheffield, aims to harness the power of the creative arts to transform the way society views older women.

The research team are in the process of running a series of creative, group workshops to explore how women are represented in the media (newspapers, television, magazines) and society as they grow older. The workshops are investigating the messages these images give out and how they affect women´s well-being. The workshop facilitators will then work with participants using photographic, art therapy, and video techniques to create new and alternative images of women and ageing. To date, “ordinary” older women have not had the opportunity to either comment on, or create, their own images of ageing. This project aims to use a variety of visual methods to enable older women in Sheffield to represent their own experiences of ageing.

Who makes the news?

From AWID:

Press Release
September 29, 2010

Women are still significantly underrepresented and misrepresented in news media coverage, according to Global Media Monitoring Project research in 108 countries coordinated by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) despite significant change since the project began 15 years ago.

76% of the people heard or read about in the world’s news are male. The world seen in news media remains largely a male one.

The GMMP monitored 1,365 newspapers, television and radio stations and Internet news sites, 17,795 news stories and 38,253 persons in the news in 108 countries with 82% of the world’s people.

The report Who Makes the News? The Global Media Monitoring Project 2010 was released today in Arabic , English, French and Spanish, along with numerous regional and national reports.

24% of people in the news are female, compared to 17% in 1995. 44% of persons providing popular opinion in news stories are female compared to 34% in 2005.

  • News media show significant gender bias with 46% of news stories reinforcing gender stereotypes.
  • 13% of news stories focus centrally on women.
  • Expert commentary is overwhelmingly male with only one female in every five experts.
  • The age of women in the news is mentioned twice as often and family status almost four times as often as for men.

Today female reporters are responsible for 37% of stories compared to 28% fifteen years ago, and their stories challenge gender stereotypes twice as often as stories by male reporters.

Gender bias in Internet news is similar and in some respects even more intense than that found in the traditional news media.

The 2010 report contains a plan of action for media professionals and others committed to gender-ethical news media.

The GMMP is the largest and longest running research and advocacy initiative on fair and balanced gender representation in the news media. It is coordinated by WACC, a global network of communicators promoting communication for social change, in collaboration with data analyst Media Monitoring Africa, and with support from the United Nations Development Fund for Women.”

The report – Who Makes the News? – is available here

Media bias in the global south

Gender and media misrepresentation in the global south

FRIDAY FILE: In the struggle for gender equality, the media should a powerful ally. Unfortunately it strongly reinforces the status quo, particularly in the Global South.

By Kathambi Kinoti

Fifteen years after the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) was adopted, women’s voices are still largely absent from the mainstream media. Recognising the powerful role of the media in shaping perspectives, the BPfA makes comprehensive recommendations to improve the visibility and voice of women and promote balanced and non-stereotypical portrayals of women. Some of the recommendations are:

  • To change the continued projection of negative and degrading images of women in programming.
  • To enhance women’s skills, knowledge and access to information technology in order to improve their ability to combat negative portrayals of women.
  • To mainstream gender in media programming and policy.

Slow progress

A media monitoring study carried out in twelve southern African countries found that stereotypes abound and are actively promoted by the media. The report’s authors write: “Potentially having a huge role to play in this ‘liberation of the mind,’ the media has more often than not been part of the problem rather than of the solution.” Women are typically portrayed by the press as sex objects, temptresses, mothers or wives. When newspapers, radio or television stations need an expert on a subject, they are less likely to call upon a woman. The study found that women politicians, who on average formed 18 percent of the region’s parliaments, were rarely news sources, being quoted only 8 percent of the time.

And –

The majority of workers in the media at all levels are still men whether they be reporters or decision makers. The only area in which women achieve a level of parity is as television presenters – but they have an expiry date; they are usually aged 34 or below. Women over the age of 35 become invisible in the media according to the southern Africa study and the GMMP findings. This reinforces stereotypes about young women’s desirability and older women’s lack of it, something that does not affect male presenters on the same levels.

The voice and visibility of female journalists has improved somewhat since the BPfA. However they are more likely to be assigned “soft” news reporting: the arts, entertainment and lifestyle, while “hard” news – politics, the economy, government – remains a largely male domain. The figures reported by the GMMP make a solid case for increasing the numbers and influence of women in the media. Female journalists are more likely to feature female subjects and to rely on female experts than are male journalists. They are also more likely to consider a gender dimension to stories that would otherwise be gender-blind.

Recommendations –

The GMMP report makes a number of recommendations that urge a greater leading role for civil society in promoting positive representations of women in the media. Some of these are:

  • Compile regional directories of women experts on diverse thematic issues. Women are typically portrayed as being experts only on gender equality, beauty, fashion and home-making, but in reality, they are present in all other fields of human endeavour and should be recognised as such.
  • Create gender and media curricula in journalism schools. Gender and women’s rights awareness should be infused into all aspects of journalists’ work, so that women’s empowerment is not only covered in special interest stories but is an issue that is understood thoroughly and is actively promoted.
  • Media decision-makers should receive gender-awareness training that challenges the deeply ingrained – and often unconscious – biases against women.
  • Adopt and apply policies on gender parity in the media. There needs to be an equal presence of men and women at all levels from reporters to management.
  • Support women in the media by offering them training and visibility.
  • Establish gender-sensitive media codes of practice that hold media houses accountable for their reporting. It is unethical for them to continue to peddle skewed representations of women.
  • Encourage media monitoring by civil society organisations.

One less

Check out Jodi Jacobson’s great article in RH Reality Check: The Millennium Development…Guys? It made me heartsick to read about an agency like the UN putting a bunch of males, particularly males holding the viewpoints that these guys do, in charge of groups responsible for advocating for maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, economic development, etc.

Consider also that virtually all of these issues remained invisible–or just plain unimportant–to the largely male power structures in every country for the past several decades, until the global women’s movement gained traction in their fight to put them on the global agenda.

Given these realities, it would seem that appointments to a recently convened United Nations High-level Advocacy Group focused on pushing for progress on the Millennium Development Goals would take pains to put high-level women in charge–at least in equal numbers to their male counterparts–of advocating for maternal health, child health, and HIV and AIDS, as well as those “other things” like economic development, in which women, as all the development literature has repeated ad nauseum for 40 years, are essential actors.  

This is especially problematic because:

Men continue to control the agenda and to decide how much or how little money and attention will be paid to ending the epidemic of pregnancy- and sexually-transmitted infection-related deaths and illnesses that robs millions of women of their lives and health every year worldwide.  Men continue to decide what priorities will be on the table when they do “pay attention” to these issues, and when they won’t, for reasons of their own political or financial agendas or their own ideological or political affiliations or all of the above, address honestly one of the leading and most preventable causes of pregnancy-related death and illness, that being unsafe abortion. Men continue to decide  whether they will, for the sake of ideology cloaked as “common ground,” push for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that leave women disproportionately vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, leave the issue of safe abortion out of research and international documents, confront other issues like stoning as “adulterers” women who’ve been raped, or “accept” that ending the war in Afghanistan likely means leaving women to the “mercy” of the Taliban.

Personally, this paragraph was one of the most upsetting:

So why is it that Bob Geldof, the Irish singer and political advocate is being assigned to advocate for “all MDGs”–including those addressing maternal and child health and HIV and AIDS, when Michelle Bachelet, the former president of Chile who grappled directly with high rates of unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion in her own country, is assigned only to the MDG focused on gender equality and empowerment? (The MDG, by the way, which everyone agrees is the lowest priority in terms of funding and which also can’t be separated from the others.) Geldof and his colleague Bono–no matter how well-intentioned–both are associated with the ONE campaign, which, while it advocates for ending poverty in Africa, has also advocated for abstinence-only-until marriage programs in PEPFAR, to deny HIV-positive women access to family planning services, and against efforts to address safe abortion as an integral aspect of women’s health and rights.

I used to be a member of the ONE campaign. Ugh. I don’t know why, but I was unaware they supported abstinence-only or denied family planning services, including abortion. Moreover, I’m flabbergasted Bob Geldof, a known fathers rights proponent, is heading a maternal and child health group. Has the world gone mad? Here’s the comment I posted on Jodi’s article:

Bob Geldof is a Fathers Rights Advocate – Here he is on video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-MGHd5rz84

Note how he blames fatherlessness (read: single moms) for raising criminals and causing other social ills. Gender & marital status have little to do with raising a criminal – poverty, racism, sexism, lack of resources, lack of role models in general, drug policies, lack of gun laws, etc. have to do with social ills and crime – not single women.

 In regard to his stats & philosophies on family court, it should be noted that family court IS for couples with high conflict, most of them with domestic violence, child abuse, or child sexual abuse. Other couples (85-90%) create their own parenting plans – those that can’t – go to Family Court.

 Research finds that when men SEEK (key word) custody, they actually have higher rates of success than women. Disturbingly, batterers often seek custody (to further their control) and GET IT.

 Here’s an overview on Wikipedia on Fathers Rights Movement. Note that it has been extremely difficult to get an opposing view of the  FR movement on Wikipedia, but currently I see some sentences have been inserted that reflect opposition – thankfully. Geldof is listed at the end as a notable supporter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fathers’_rights_movement

 It should also be noted that some advocates refer to the FR gang as the Abusers Lobby. Many of their members have had prior conflict, charges of abuse, convictions, stalking charges, etc. Here’s a compilation of charges by researcher Michael Flood: http://angelzfury.blogspot.com/2010/02/use-of-violence-by-fathers-rights.html 

 Geldof, like many other FR proponents, support traditional families – meaning they’d like to make it harder for women to get a divorce, they don’t like losing the respect of being a father/bread winner/family man, they’d like to have control over women and children, etc. — this is NOT the person who should be heading a committee for maternal and child health — this makes me sick to my stomach.

Count me as ONE LESS member of the ONE Campaign and one more of the disheartened women who has looked – but often fails to see –  progress from the UN.

A “manopoly” of the media

Where are the women?

Excerpt:

The news is not encouraging, though NPR is trying to do something about it.

Admittedly, the relative lack of female voices reflects the broader world. The fact remains that even in the fifth decade after the feminist revolution; men are still largely in charge in government at all levels, in corporations and nearly all other aspects of society. That means, by default, there are going to be more male than female news sources.