Research for Women in the Media:
In 1918, the first major accomplishment of women’s suffrage occurred when women in Canada were granted franchise by the federal authorities.
Since then, women have continued their struggled to gain equality and respect for themselves, as well as their bodies...
At a quick glance, it could be said that this fight is over, after all, according to the research conducted by Kasey Farris Windel, in her dissertation on Proportional Representation and Regulatory Focus: The Case for Cohorts Among Female Creatives:
"women’s roles in [the] workforce is larger than ever before with women earning 57.3% of all Bachelor’s degrees (Catalyst 2004) and representing 47% of the American workforce (Census 2003), in addition to their having comparable representation in today’s advertising industry, in which there is a 50.6% female average across positions (Endicott and Morrison 2005)"
However, Windel goes on in her dissertation to investigate the way in which women are represented within creative and advertising positions, an area of representation that is especially significant when considering that “advertising, even the most liberal and rationalistic, is ideological in at least the formal sense that it seeks to dispose interpellated individuals favorably towards what is for sale” (Andrew Wernick), thereby supporting if not directly influencing the ideologies that structure the society in which the advertisements are being presented to.
In consideration of the significance and effects of advertising, it becomes important to know that "in the creative department, women are underrepresented by a ratio of 2.3 to 1" (Endicott 2002).
The situation only intensifies at higher levels, where only four of the 33 nationally ranked agencies have women running their creative departments. In addition, females are scarce among advertising’s creative elite, representing only 12% of One Club Hall of Fame members and 2% of those in the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame (Iezzi 2005; Sampey & O’Leary 2005).
Since equality is so drastically lagging in the creative and advertising department, it becomes integral to the feminist movement for equality to ask what effect this inequality has on women, as well as how women are viewed in a North American society that still has a very much male-centric view, since it is males who dominate the advertising industries which are inform “the cultural reproduction of the current order of our society.”
The answer to the question of how men are choosing to represent women is made clear by Courtney Carpenter and Aimee Edison in Sex in Advertising, in which the doctoral students explore the “preliminary data analysis [which] shows [that] across all magazine genres, in 2004, males appeared demurely dressed 83.5 percent of the time, while women are only shown as demurely dressed a third of the time (33.33333%)” (Carpenter 2), which demonstrates a gap in the sexual objectification of women over men.
But why does that matter?
In an era in which mainstream society is being exposed to, as well as consuming media faster than ever, a danger lies in the cultivation effect, that “can be explained through models of construct accessibility (Shrum, 1996, 2002). [By which, the using of] more of a specific media genre can subtly influence perceptions and interpretations of the world and the people encountered in it by making mediated constructs/behaviors more accessible from memory than experiential realities”
These constructs shaped by our media not only create “life scripts” (Carpenter 7) that some women become convinced of in order to ‘do’ their gender correctly, but additionally effect how men view women in comparison to other men.
If women are being portrayed and interpreted within society as submissive sex objects, while men are being portrayed as complex and powerful, it is hardly a surprise to learn that rates of police-reported sexual violence against women is significantly higher for women than men across Canadian provinces, amounting to “a rate of 34 sexual assault incidents for every 1,000 women” (Marie Sinha).
However, this statistic does not represent the number of women who have been victims of sexual violence. In a study that “involved 114 interviews with [female] survivors of sexual violence in urban centres of three Canadian provinces…less than [30% of survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (who made up a third of the survivors) and roughly 36% of survivors of Adult Sexual Abuse had reported the abuse] to the police, or otherwise had another person report the assault” (Melissa Lindsay 6) for them.
Furthermore, in the “Findings from the 2009 General Social Survey on Victimization (GSS) revealed that an estimated 88% of incidents of sexual assault were not reported to the police (Perreault and Brennan 2010); 67,000 Canadians reported experiencing sexual assault in the 12 months preceding the survey, with females representing 70% of survivors of sexual assault. Females also represented the majority (87%) of survivors of police-reported sexual assault (Levels 1, 2 and 3) in 2012.”
So, were do men fit into all of this? Well, police recorded data has shown that not only are “women more likely than men to be victims of a sexual offence, while men [are] more likely to be robbed… [but they are] eleven times more likely than men to be sexually victimized, three times as likely to be stalked (criminally harassed), and twice as likely to be the victim of indecent and harassing phone calls” (Sinha).
This trend of women being abusively sexualized becomes only more prevalent in situations of closeness between the genders, where “intimate partners, including spouses and dating partners, were the most common perpetrators in violent crime against women…[representing] 45% of all those accused of victimizing women, followed by acquaintances or friends (27%), strangers (16%) and non-spousal family members (12%)” while the “reverse was true for male victims, where strangers accounted for the largest share of perpetrators (55%)” (Sinha).
Not only are men “[ responsible for 83% of police-reported] violence against women, [but men are also responsible for the majority of violence] directed at [other] men…[representing a total of] 76% of all perpetrators]” (Sinha)
There is not significant enough evidence to suggest, however, that these statistics relating to the sexualization and abuse of women by men, in addition to higher occurrences of men displaying violent behavior over women, is in any way a reflection of what could be mistaken for masculine nature. On the contrary, this is evidence that the mental models being prescribed by a male dominated industry, in which women are most frequently being portrayed as sexual objects, is an incredibly unhealthy model for all genders to be exposed to.
In other words, these statistics are convincingly birthed from the ideological gender stereotypes that are being propagated by the representational images of women being produced and distributed on a massive scale, which have also influenced the way that our societies view and treat these crimes.
The criminal justice system in Canada addresses crimes involving sexual violence, such as a “sexual assault against a young person under 16 years of age (hybrid offence)” with a minimum penalty of 3 months on a summary conviction, and just 1 year on indictment (Department of Justice, Canada), while survivors of sexual violence “describe such long term effects as depression, anxiety, PTSD-related symptoms and behavior problems” (Statistics Division Department of Justice Canada).
The apparent effects of such subtle ideological views are impacting the treatment of women, as well as the behaviors and views of men in North American society on a large scale, so it is my goal to create a sculpture that will draw attention to the issue of how small inequalities can have large consequences.
As a woman, and a creative individual, such impacts as those created by negative gender representations, are significant to me.
So, for my sculpture I will be aiming to create a visualization of the impacts of gender inequality within the media, as well as the repercussions of mass objectification, sexualization and gender stereotyping of women. To do this, I would like to make my sculpture as vulgar and upsetting as those realities that I have gone over.
¹ Stokstad, Marilyn, and Michael W. Cothren. “1.” Art History, 5th ed., vol. 1, Laurence King, London, pp. 10–11.
Carpenter, Courtney, and Aimee Edison. "Sex in Advertising." Taking It Off All Over Again: The Portrayal of Women in Advertising Over The Past Forty Years. pag. University of Alabama. Web. 4 Mar. 2017.
Department of Justice, Canada “6.4 Mandatory Minimum Penalties under the Criminal Code.” Government of Canada, Department of Justice, Electronic Communications, 23 July 2015, www.ppsc-sppc.gc.ca/eng/pub/fpsd-sfpg/fps- sfp/tpd/p6/ch04.html.
Lindsay, Melissa. “A SURVEY OF SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN THREE CANADIAN CITIES.” Http://Www.justice.gc.ca/Eng/RpPr/CjJp/Victim/rr13_19/rr13_1 9.Pdf, Research and Statistics Division Department of Justice Canada, 2014, , Research and Statistics Division Department of Justice Canada, 2014, www.bing.com/cr?IG=22B86CC4BE5C4A208B4B2DCF864210A D&CID=1440CED74C6D6D2B32C8C4CD4D5C6C64&rd=1&h=X8 dp4zAjtVwtBPTj8gHktbqLtvlTquOP1Ka6jGAGk5M&v=1&r=http% 3a%2f%2fwww.justice.gc.ca%2feng%2frppr%2fcjjp%2fvictim%2fr r13_19%2frr13_19.pdf&p=DevEx,5077.1.
Peterson, Susan. The Craft and Art of Clay. London: King, 1995. Print.
Sinha, Maire. "Section 1: Prevalence and Severity of Violence against Women."Statcan.gc.ca. N.p., 30 Nov. 2015. Web. 05 Mar. 2017.
Wernick, Andrew. “Advertising and Ideology: An Interpretive Framework.”Journals.sagepub, SAGE Social Science Collections, 1 Nov. 1983, journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/026327648300 2001004.
Windels, Kasey Farris. “Proportional Representation and Regulatory Focus: The Case for Cohorts Among Female Creatives.” Https://Repositories.lib.utexas.edu/Handle/2152/1782, The University of Texas at Austin , University of Texas Libraries, 2008, hdl.handle.net/2152/17824.