Women’s Jobs in the Media

Ruby, Jennie. “Women in Media.” Off Our Backs 37, no. 1 (2007): 14-16. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20838762).

 

This article appears in the radical feminist magazine Off Our Backs. Started in 1970, Off Our Backs was meant as an outlet for women’s frustrations, and rode on the waves of the feminist movement and sexual revolution of the 60’s. The title itself of the magazine evokes images of women freeing themselves from the oppressive rule and view of men, and can give the reader an idea of what sort of article will follow. True to form, this article by Jennie Ruby breaks down the statistics of how many women were working in media-related jobs in 2007, pointing out the gross inequality. Ruby gathers facts about women’s employment and appearance in various media outlets in an attempt to draw attention to the gendered and biased way the media deals with women, especially non-traditional women, and hopefully lead to a change in the way women are portrayed by the media. However, although Ruby relies on facts in this brief article and cites her sources, simply appearing in such a biased magazine may detract from the seriousness of her argument by its critics.

 

Ruby points out that women are outnumbered by men in almost every media-related job, from screenwriter to editor, and even for simply appearing in news stories. Women pull ahead of men in a few jobs, such as news photographer, but by and large they are underrepresented in this sector of the workforce. This leads to an inaccurate portrayal of women in the media, as women are often portrayed as simply fitting existing stereotypes rather than being their own people. Unfortunately, the biases presented in many portrayals of women in the media serve to enforce stereotypes about women, not allowing them to break out of the cycle and present themselves in the way they want to be presented. Ruby also points out some of the biases found in the media’s description of women, mentioning that Latina women are virtually non-existent in video games, and that when black women appear in video games, they are usually only seen as a victim of violence, and never as the protagonist. This representation of women of color matches the statistics for women of color who work in media-related jobs. If women in general are underrepresented in the media’s workforce, women of color are even more underrepresented. The lack of minority women working in media, combined with societal prejudices, contributes to the dismal depiction of women of color in various media outlets. For example, even murder victims are more likely to get extensive press coverage if they are young, white, and conventionally attractive (Young White Girl Syndrome).

 

This article is relevant in that it shows women’s awareness of the bias inherent in much of media. It calls for a change, yet due to the biased nature of its own platform, it is unlikely to reach a large audience which could effect change.

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