In the contemporary human society, media texts have a great influence on what individuals consume, think, talk, and believe. In essence, media has occupied significant part in peoples’ daily undertakings. The latter seems to be the major determinant on how one perceives and understands the world. Preliminary research findings have demonstrated that media has a unique way of representing social variables like gender, race, and sexuality. In this respect, this paper is focused on the analysis of gender representation in individual text, Freddie Mercury. Moreover, articles including “Five Sexes, Revisited”, “Love, Tears, and the Male Spectator”, and “Feminism/Patriarchy/Masculinity” have been given special attention in the attempt to address gender based issues reflected in the modern and indigenous media contexts. Based on the assumptions of constructivism, one is led to believe that images used in representing gender have a great influence on how people perceive men and women in the society.
Notably, the issue of gender representation in media needs a critical analysis, with an objective of shedding more light on the predetermined beliefs pertaining to race, sex, sexuality, gender, and by large, symbolic, conflict, and functional interactionism. It is hard to understand where individuals stand when it comes to the topic of sexual ambiguity. As Fausto-Sterling (19) stipulates, there are many controversies surrounding the two-sex system that are embedded in our society today. In fact, if an individual walks on the streets, he/she may be confronted by different types of images representing males and females. In television programs or movies, images of men and women constitute basic pictorials, which may influence a person either subconsciously or consciously. Owing to the perspective that media has a great influence on the way an individual would perceive the world and social interactions in particular, it is crucial to access how gender has been portrayed in media texts, for example, movies and written articles. A quick review of the literature, “The Five Sexes, Revisited’’ reveals a great deal on how women and individuals with genital ambiguity may be perceived in the modern societies. Intersexuality, for example, has formed the basis for arguments based around sexual varieties in the contemporary media texts. For instance, from the article, it is quite clear that sexual rights of individuals with genital ambiguity (a situation whereby, a man or a woman has both male and female chromosomes, internal sex structures, hormones and the external genitalia (Fausto-Sterling, 20)) may be violated. As a result, women, for example, Chase, who is remembered today for active involvement in the fight for intersexual rights, even confirms that females have been perceived as disadvantaged individuals in the society, who may be sexually violated by men at any moment. However, a thorough review of literature materials reveals that much has changed since the beginning of the 19th century. For example, women have risen in the fight against female exploitation, harassment, and sexual oppression by male individuals in the society. For instance, feminism movements and organizations like “me-too movement” and ISNA (Intersex Society of North America) have been leading the war against the social negatives associated with being a woman in the society (Fausto-Sterling, 20). However, the issue of masculinity has not gained a reciprocal momentum in the fight for social injustices and violation of male rights in the present day communities (MacKinnon 48). Most media materials have focused attention on gender based issues, with the balance slowly shifting to favor women. In essence, the target audience for such media texts may use the images as reference points for making self-identification in terms of role attributes in the society (gender and racial identity) (Fausto?Sterling 23). As such, it becomes quite impossible to reason that media does not influence an individual’s self-conceptualization and their perceptions about the world.
It is also equally necessary to evaluate political and traditional problems associated with gender issues. For example, the struggle for gender equality and women’s rights has greatly affected the way in which gender is portrayed in music such as Freddie Mercury. As an artist, he provides suitable indicators and reflections of conflicts and symbolic interactions on gender based issues in the 20th century. Freddie Mercury has been preferred because of the representations of different characteristics that define gender issues in the society (Blake 83). As MacKinnon suggests, his role in music helps to define the issues in masculinity, which is largely associated to cultural terms such as the idea of ‘being a man’ that depicts men are tough and they are rooted to have no emotions (49). MacKinnon emphasizes on the need for awareness on defensiveness, which can be used as a vantage point from which individuals can use to read the traditional traits of masculinity (50).
According to previous research regarding gender issues in media, the basic arguments have revealed that men and women are perceived differently (MacKinnon, 51). Current studies regarding gender based issues have revealed that such variations on masculinity have not received much attention according to media portrayals (MacKinnon, 49). Perhaps, males have been perceived as the female oppressors. In fact, some media texts, for example, “Love, Tears and the Male Spectator” have revealed that issues pertaining to masculinity have been underexplored in the context of social consequences associated with being a man or a woman in the society. As such, MacKinnon states that situations around gender based concerns have maintained a similar trend in representation and framing across the various forms of media (51). More specific, it has been demonstrated that females have been underrepresented in media texts, for example movies. On the other hand, men have been portrayed as successful individuals who have higher status and career oriented in the society, yet women are in most circumstances represented as submissive independent beings poor career development. Even though it has been generally argued that gender is a two sided social issue, which includes both femininity and masculinity, it is difficult to find media text that addresses both issues at the same time (MacKinnon, 52). In most cases, media representations, and more specifically how women are being perceived (MacKinnon, 52) have prioritized femininity. For instance, “Queer theorists” have maintained that media texts in the present day societies have dedicated special attentions to the perceived differences between males and females in the society (MacKinnon, 38). Originally, even religious publications like, the Bible and Quran portrayed ample evidence of gender inequalities. For example, men are perceived as more powerful and should always lead the woman in most, if not all daily undertakings, including decision making activities as stated by Fausto?Sterling (23). Most portrayals used to represent women are based on negative aspect, with rare positives. Most media platforms do not pay attention to male portrayals. Even if both issues (masculinity and femininity) are addressed, for example in music, femininity may tend to dominate content of the material. In some cases, certain representations may be used to gain deeper insights into socio-political issues, pertaining to ideas of political movements like feminist movements, whose objective is aimed at mitigating female oppression in the society.
Social constructivism theory is among the perspectives used in analyzing and understanding male and female representations in the various media materials. The theory’s primary idea is based on the notion that the global communities and relationships are socially constructed through functional, conflict, and symbolic interactions. In essence, the world is in constant dynamics of the perceived social wrong or right. According to Blake, social meaning is derived from the various interactions among the individuals in the societies (71). Moreover, concepts and definition of objects and symbols are constantly malleable depending on the state of contemporary cultural situations. More specific, this implies that people tend to construct meanings from language use, which may depend on the use of different concepts and their respective meanings. In this regard, presentation of men and women in media remains the central focus. Also, the theory attempts to analyze how gender roles are derived from presentation of women and men in media.
In the contemporary societies, language appears to be the key medium through which individuals interact with one another. May be the most interesting concern here is how language is used to construct meaning. Basically, language incorporates symbols and signs, of which men and women form part. As such, language is medium of communication based on signs, which include but not limited to written words, spoken words, sounds, and images. With such briefings, the concept of gender and media may become simple to understand and relate in the modern communities. However, masculinity has been in many circumstances underexplored as evident in the various media texts (MacKinnon, 39)
Generally defined, gender may be perceived as a social construction, which entails both men and women, and their role attributes in the society, which depends on specific cultural beliefs. Media has been used in several circumstances to highlight the various gaps between females and males and their respective role identifications in the form of pictorial presentations. Media tends to focus on the issue of power difference between men and women through the roles assigned to femininity or masculinity (MacKinnon 49). For example, women are always assigned roles that make them more subordinate to men, who are always perceived as their superiors (MacKinnon 53). Female individuals may be presented as independent people, who must be watched and taken care of by male characters. In his music, Freddie Mercury demonstrates that females and males have been represented in manner suggesting that gender gap is a real issue in the society.
In several media texts, women are represented as physically weak compared to male characters, who may be assigned the role of oppressor, dictator and a bully to female characters. Such media reflections suggest that women are both emotionally and physically weak in comparison to men. Moreover, women are represented as submissive individuals, who must obey orders from their male counterparts without questioning. In the music, women have been represented in a way suggesting that they are emotional compared to men, who in most cases, are portrayed as unemotional (Blake 102). As such, the major depiction of females in media materials suggests that they are dependent on males in the various aspects of their daily undertakings. However, some media texts have portrayed mothers as more nurturing and helping individuals in the community compared to men, who are represented as rather self-serving. More information on “Freddie Mercury” reveals that females are fearful and afraid of confronting insecurity issues that surrounds their lives, while men are reflected as brave and heroines in the society (Blake 195). Besides, more revelation from media portrayals demonstrates that women are troublesome in matters that involve personal decision making skills. On the contrary side, men are presented in manner reflecting that leaders and solution providers to the various problems facing people in modern societies, for example, family feuds, land disputes, civil wars, and problems that may be brought forth by natural calamities.
Media has a great influence over socially constructed norms and meanings regarding gender based issues. For example, media texts like movies, radio programs, television programs, and music may be designed in ways that reflect issues emanating from gender gaps. However, most media themes have been based on matters pertaining to femininity. Freddie Mercury has been a trait in the society that shows the gender issues faced and the challenges that women have. Females have been reflected as individuals who are basically concerned with beauty and would give anything to remain young and youthful. Moreover, they are depicted as physically and emotionally weak individuals who rely on mean for security including critical decision making. Though the issue of gender is a two sided social phenomenon, most concerns have been based on feminism. Masculinity, on the other hand, has been rarely discussed, but if any, men may be portrayed as powerful individuals, who make major decisions for both domestic and economic issues (MacKinnon 50). In addition, they are portrayed as physically strong and unemotional individuals who are assertive, perpetrators, and independent individuals (MacKinnon 49). In this way, media texts may be looked at as tools that are used by individuals in gaining self-identification in terms of gender and perception of the world.
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