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Debate: Portrayal of women in mass media

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This House believes that current portrayal of women in mass media does more harm than good.

Background and context

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Influence: Does media influence people?

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Pro

  • A big part of media audience consists of teenagers, who are particularly vulnerable to the violence and various stereotypes, promoted by media: This is because the mentality of young people is in the process of formation. The impact of media on the morality of the younger generation can affect the future of our society negatively.
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Con

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Portrayal of women: Is it solely negative?

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Pro

  • Media tend to generalize. In commercials, films, books, etc. it is much easier to generalize than to put together all pieces of the puzzle. Therefore, many "established prejudices" still remain, such as:
    • Women are portrayed as sexual objects. Beauty is being prioritized over education and intelligence.
    • Women are portrayed as perfect models. Although very often "Photoshop-edited", women are portrayed as beautiful and perfect, while stressing the importance of being slim. This leads in consequence to "promotion of anorexia", which is clearly undesirable.
    • Women are portrayed as mothers. In many advertisements, it is solely the woman who takes care of the family and household. This creates a social stigma that women who pursue career are automatically bad wives and mothers.
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Con

  • Successful women. Media do not talk only about thin models and caring mothers in advertisements. Media also reports on real life situations, such as - for example - successful scientists or politicians, regardless of their gender.
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Impact: Does the portrayal of women have a negative impact on our lives?

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Pro

  • Many girls idolize models and feel the need to mirror their thinness. Models of a very low weight are setting bad examples to these girls and can be held responsible for the increasing number of girls with eating disorders
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Con

  • The fashion industry is not to blame for eating disorders. Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses and are not simply triggered by models and images of thin people.

See also

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