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These are the links to the lessons that need to use. Please load the links and watch these to get the information: https://rise.articulate.com/share/DRuiK-53vb7G8AWwWOCMCKStcWc7Jlyz#/lessons/0zD5RdJFfVXNhxeXBmW14brA1kA1Q6hp Media representations of women: https://rise.articulate.com/share/NeXTpn5Cqe1KyY0cs48agdIjaqnCtmQf#/lessons/9qghOi0jBVW8G1CUDmSL-092lp9oLrDU

You will choose a cultural group (e.g. young people LGBTIQ+ people, women) and analyse how this group is represented using at least two media texts as examples.  In your essay you will identify the key ways the text represent the group you have selected and discuss how these representations relate to broader ideological perspectives discussed in lectures and tutorials.

Your essay must compare the chosen texts, examining how they are indicative (or not) of changes to how these cultural groups have been constructed in the media. The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate your understanding of the CYB103 unit content and the wider media and cultural context of your examples.  As such, you should aim to draw upon the concepts introduced in the readings and lectures throughout the semester, as well as any additional research that supports your argument.

You can define “media text” broadly.  For example, you might want to focus on two advertisements, two websites, or two TV shows.  Alternatively, you could focus on two characters from TV shows, or celebrities.  You can, of course, choose a combination of texts and / or genres (e.g. a website and a TV show, an Internet meme and an ad).  Choose texts that interest you and make you think.  You can choose texts in languages other than English, if you provide a translation.

Popular media projection of women as sexual objects

In the world of popular culture and entertainment media, the factor of eroticism has been maneuvered in such a way that anything that evokes sexuality is considered as saleable and has the quality of attracting the mass attention. Given the fact that the world is by and large patriarchal and heterosexual, the dynamics of sexuality is shaped in such a way that the women become the entity to be at the receiving end of the act of intercourse, dominated by the men. In the public discourses, in the context of the entertainment media, the same concept of women being the object of desire for the men is replicated and that is immanent in the way the women are projected in a highly sexualized manner. It is not just done for the sake of entertaining the crowd but also for the sake of maintaining the patriarchal dominance that exists in the society, through the glorification  of males sexual virility at the cost of depriving the women of their agency and reducing them to just pieces of meat meant for the audience to derive voyeuristic pleasure and the seek the validation and glorification of maleness through the act of the  male character indulging in a dominant sexual act with the female character. In short, apart from all other factors related to cinematography, the success of a film or any other social media projection is highly dependent upon how much of sexualization is the female character being able to exude in order to increase the level of mass craze (Carr, 2018).


The aim of this particular essay is to provide an account of how the popular media projection of women is highly sexualized, which shall also serve as the research question. In order to answer the research question certain key elements shall be harped upon which shall be inclusive of how popular media leads to Gender stereotyping, Symbolic annihilation, the woman as "other" and how controlling the female body is the key to the success of the entertainment media. In order to provide a more specific and concrete understanding of the key elements, the example of the media projection of two key celebrities shall be provided, Brigitte Bardot of France and Marilyn Monroe of the Hollywood. Both have been very successful filmstars and more importantly were sex icons, which perhaps had been one of the most important reasons why their career had shot up to the heights of fame, glamour and popularity. In the followings sections the discussion shall first focus on the aspect of introducing the chosen celebrities through the way media had projected them and then the analysis shall be dealing with the chosen elements.


It is perhaps true that the construction of the supremacy of the male dominance over the female is something which is highly contingent upon a particular form of projection of the women, which entailed eroticization and sexualization of their bodies.

 The reason behind choosing for the purpose of analysis lies in the fact that they have been sex icons and they had received much acclamation because they have been able to project the idea that they are open to themselves being sexualized. Brigitte Bardot,  a French actress is known for her erotic films in which she had appeared shot on the beaches of Cannes under the direction of Robert Vadim. Perhaps the most iconic image of Bardot is her appearance on the beaches of Cannes when she had donned a bikini on the occasion of the Cannes International Film Festival. That particular image had caught so much of fancy that in the recent times in France to describe a free woman it was cited as an ideal. Marilyn Monroe too was a very successful sex icon during her times. The most iconic image of her’s has been she trying to save her dress from baring her body compromisingly with a smile of joy on her face as if she is enjoying the male gaze paying attention to her body. She had begun her career as a calendar girl and very few women during her times had the courage to go so bold on screen and her erotic images had been the reason for her to rise to fame. She had even dyed her hair blonde covering her original dark hued hair since men preferred blondes more than dark haired ladies. It would be wrong to assume that they were only sex icons and had no prowess as artists, it is the media projection which had turned them into sex icons (Duncan, 2015).


From the discussion in the previous sections it becomes clear that the factor of male gaze is an important part in fanning the patriarchy and the objectification of women is a result of it which is manifested through reducing Bardot and Monroe to the appeal that they could cast through their bodies and their sexual appeal which however rendered their talents and acting skills as secondary. Laura Mulvey has attempted to provide an explanation of the dynamisms that has conditioned the ‘Male Gaze’ to be the way it is. In her essay, ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, Mulvey has explained gaze as the act of deriving pleasure out of looking something in a particular way which is deeply rooted in male ego with a predatory undertone to it (Mayne, 2016). The aim herein is to analyse the conception of gaze as presented by Mulvey. The flow of discussion in this part of the essay shall be focusing on the relevance of the male gaze and the image of women emanating from it.

Relevance of the male gaze and image of women

In order to substantiate the gender stereotyping of women in the portrayal of the films, with particular reference to the relationship between masculinity and feminity being dependent upon the inferiority of the latter vis-à-vis the former, two quotations of former President of the United States of America must be mentioned. His views on the worth of men is quite relevant on this issue as conveyed by the speeches. In one of his speeches he had expressed very blatantly, and rather patronizingly at the same time, that for men who did not put up a bearded look, he had just one word, and that was women (Hein, 2006). This has a direct connection with Mulvey’s conception of a woman being equivalent to a castrated man, devoid of the phallus. Both the views validate the popularly held logic that a woman is what a man would be devoid of some masculine attributes. Another quote by President Lincoln, which the feminists would in today’s context regard as something thoroughly sexist is, that a man should be judged by the prowess of his beard and by the beautiful woman within the fold of his arm, not on the basis of the amount of ego or benevolence he nurtures in his heart. This reinforces the version of masculinity which essentializes the role of man with an authoritative underpinning over a woman. Now the question is to deliberate upon the validity of Mulvey’s Gaze Theory. Thus anything less than a man is woman and a woman is but an accessory for a man which has no worth until it receives the attention of a man (Collins, 2017).  


Mulvey’s work reflects Freudian conception of sexuality explained in terms of voyeurism. She utilizes that logic and attempts to provide a comprehension of the objectification of the corporeal existence of women in the entertainment media. The image of a woman that finds an expression in popular media is but a product of the fantasies and imaginations of man, woven to suit his desirability, and his ego (Mulvey & Backman 2016). Mulvey opines on this aspect that such a construct has been necessitated to maintain the dominance of men over women. Reduction of the intricacies of feminity to sexualizing capabilities is a subtle, refined, layered and surreptitious method of perpetrating the superiority of a man over womanhood in general, under the pretext of making them feel empowered and having attained the epitome of liberation. The inherent domineering spirit is thus very skillfully enshrouded, and the status quo of the social perception that women are men minus their masculinity remains intact (Oliver, 2017). Resultantly, the man assumes the role of the entity bearing the look, and the woman, the object to be gazed at for the sake of evoking sexuality. This shows how the autonomy of the existence of a woman gets symbolically annihilated. The body of a woman is reduced to a piece of meat which ought to be fetishized (Vandermassen, 2015).

Gender stereotyping and symbolic annihilation

Mulvey’s work reflects Freudian conception of sexuality explained in terms of voyeurism. She utilizes that logic and attempts to provide a comprehension of the objectification of the corporeal existence of women in the entertainment media. The image of a woman that finds an expression in popular media is but a product of the fantasies and imaginations of man, woven to suit his desirability, and his ego (Finkel & Hirsch 2015). Mulvey opines that to a man, the feeling of sexual stimulation on seeing a woman in a sensuous way, is a source of immense self-gratification and self-aggrandisement. Each time a man experiences that, his conviction of his own superiority over a woman, who is nothing more than an entity lacking the male element gets reinstated. This is the basic premise on which the portrayal of female characters in the films happen, as per her theorization. Resultantly, the man assumes the role of the entity bearing the look, and the woman, the object to be gazed at for the sake of evoking sexuality (George, 2015).

The imageries of eroticism to which a woman is associated with has been arrived at by depriving them of the agency and liberty of self-determination. This overt sexualiazation of women in filmography is two-fold, she is made to reconcile herself to the fact that she is on one hand supposed to be a temptress to the male counterparts of the film she is acting, and on the other hand a magnet to attract the fancifulness of her audience (Amthor, 2015). The ideal image of a beautiful woman has been shaped by patriarchy in such a way that she seeks validation in being a sex symbol readily and has accepted the fact with resignation. The yardstick for measuring the degree of attractiveness of a woman has been fixated at the amount of skin she exposes, both of which are as determined by patriarchal control mechanism directly proportional to each other. Hence, adjudging a woman’s beauty and attractiveness is contingent on the intensity with it awakens sexual feelings in a man’s body. Woman’s sexuality has been since time immemorial a subject matter of obsession among the men folks, which they have maneouvered over the due course of time in various ways. Sometimes by controlling their sexuality by imposition of codes of morality, while on the other hand by bestowing the women with the liberty to expose themselves within a framework that would not overpower the male sexuality and the male dominance in society (Oliver, 2017).

Conclusively, it can be said that in the previous sections dealing with how the very existence of women is sexualized with particular reference to how popular media leads to Gender stereotyping, Symbolic annihilation, the woman as "other" and how controlling the female body is the key to the success of the entertainment media, it could be deduced that sex is an important factor for which the woman is significant in the films. The media projection of women being highly sexualized shows that the societal conception of womanhood favours such a projection and the films or the popular and entertainment thus have a social basis for coming up with a sexualized vision of womanhood. Not that men do not bare their bodies but the reaction to a male popular personality baring skin in the screen is very different than that of a woman and that is because the sexuality of women have been suppressed while the men have been provide the leverage to express their sexuality openly without much of an uncanny reaction.

References

Amthor, J. (2015). The Male Gaze versus Female Self-Determination in Ekphrastic Poetry.

Carr, A. J. (2018). Viewing Pleasure and Being a Showgirl: How Do I Look?. Routledge.

Collins, L. (2017). Mulvey, patriarchy and gender: expression and disruption in visual art. New Review of Film and Television Studies, 15(4), 415-420.

Duncan, J. (2015). Beyond the veil: Graphic representation of Islamic women. In The Compass (Vol. 1, No. 2, p. 4).

Finkel, M., & Hirsch, M. (2015). Thelma & Louise: Reclaiming Mulvey’s Male Gaze. Feminist Theory.

George, M. W. (2015). Television’s Male Gaze. The Middle Ages on Television: Critical Essays, 141.

Hein, C. (2006). Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.

Mayne, J. (2016). Feminisms: Diversity, Difference and Multiplicity in Contemporary Film Cultures, edited by Laura Mulvey and Anna Backman Rogers Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema by Sophie Mayer.

Mulvey, L. (2017). From a faculty seminar with Laura Mulvey: reflections on visual pleasure: Vanderbilt University, November 10, 2016, Compiled and Edited by Lara Casey. New Review of Film and Television Studies, 15(4), 385-387.

Mulvey, L., & Backman Rogers, A. (2016). Feminsms: Diversity, Difference and Multiplicity in Contemporary Film Cultures. Amsterdam University Press.

Oliver, K. (2017). The male gaze is more relevant, and more dangerous, than ever. New Review of Film and Television Studies, 15(4), 451-455.

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