How the media distort gender issues

In each reference to the children in the story, the narrator said “children” except in one example of abuse concerning one boy. But in the films, every single solitary one of the children shown was a boy. Not one girl could be seen.

Source: Wikistreets.com

ON MAY 14, 2004, my wife and I watched “Saving Children” on ABC television’s “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.” It was an in-depth report on India’s ruthless system of child labor. The report showed several film clips of countless children, many of them very young, working long hours to pay off family debt. There were accounts of children being abused, such as: “One day when he was crying for his mother, the master had beaten him up and then struck his head with an iron rod.”

When the report was over, I told my wife that this is an example of how subtle the media can be in deliberately misrepresenting the gender story. In every reference to the children in the story, the word “children” was used, except in the above example of abuse concerning one boy. But in the films, every single solitary one of the children shown was a boy. Not one girl could be seen.

Now, let’s switch the sex of the children. Pretend that every single solitary one of the possibly hundreds of children shown was a girl. Do you think for a second that Peter Jennings would never have referred to the children as girls (especially considering his comments here)? Do you think he would have titled his report, as he did in the link above, “A Ruthless System: Child Labor Thrives Where India’s Prosperity Doesn’t Reach”? Hardly. His title would have been something along the line of: “India’s Enslavement of Young Girls Typical of World-wide Oppression of Females.” Jennings’ report, no doubt because of pressure from feminist staffers, would have stressed — over and over — the fact that the victims of the child labor were girls. No viewer would have been left with any doubt whatsoever about whether females are mistreated in India or any other country.

But after the real report ended, probably most viewers, particularly those just casually listening and not watching, came away without the merest suspicion that only boys were enslaved. (In fact, many of those who only listened may have thought they were hearing yet another bad-news report about girls, so widely entrenched is the media-driven idea of female oppression.) They missed the opportunity to learn that males, too, can be singled out as targets of oppression, and that if someone is willing to oppress little boys, they are certainly willing to oppress grown men. (Even my wife, more alert than the average person to such gender disparities, did not pick up on the boys-only aspect in the report until I mentioned it.)

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This entry was posted in Gender Violence, Male "Power" and "Privilege", Media Sexism and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How the media distort gender issues

  1. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is excellent blog. A fantastic read. I will definitely be back.

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