blog 4

Marguerita Sejaan
2 min readFeb 18, 2021

Carter (2012), Litosseliti (2013), and Al-Mahadin (2011) all theorized different ways we can analyze gender and how it is represented in the media. Carter, first, pointed out that it is essential to realize that the media’s portrayal of women is not only a reflection of how women are treated in society, but it also affects society. As Tuchman wrote, being represented in the media gives you a social existence. It legitimizes your experiences and gives you visibility, as well as giving you a narrative. Knowing this, then we can say that being underrepresented, the way women are, is a form of symbolic annihilation, of being stripped of a narrative and thus personhood. Carter quotes Laurentis as well, pointing out that gender is not just one thing, but made up of ‘technologies of gender’ that perpetuate it and uphold its definition over and over again.

Second, Al-Mahadin focused on the way Arab women are represented in Western media. She distinguished between misrepresentation, showing something that is inaccurate, and strategic moulding. In the latter, assuming all Arab women wear burqas or are belly dancers put them in only one category when these women really represent a very small minority. The burqa, especially, is highlighted here. It simultaneously strategically moulds Arab women into an inaccurate category, claims that they are oppressed, and is also a violation of the male gaze. It invited the gaze to a covered body, which is the way you can harm the gaze the most.

third, Litosselliti wrote about how language moulds our definition of gender. Our language consists of sex specification, gratuitous modifiers, lexical gaps, semantic derogation, asymmetrically gendered language items, and connotations of language. All of these things are used to patronize women by referring to them as ‘girls’ or ‘woman doctor’, strip them of personhood by comparing them to objects, or by creating insults specific to women. Litosseliti calls for feminist linguistics to demystify how language is used to uphold inequality.

References:

Carter, C. (2012). Sex/Gender and the Media From Sex Roles to Social Construction.

Al-Mahadin, S. (2011). Arab Feminist Media Studies.

Litosseliti, L. (2013). “Putting gender and language on the map” (read pp. 13–15; 22–24) and “Gender and language in the media” (read pp. 91–97).

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