In today’s world, media has become as necessary as food and clothing. It has played significant role in strengthening the society. In fact, it is media which shapes our lives in many ways. Media has the power to influence the society, and it has been influencing the society since long. It controls the norms, cultures, the customs and other opinions, leisure, etc. As every individual is indulged in media, more specifically social media, as they spend enough of their time over it, it gives them information about various issues, and provides the platform to share their opinions, and judgments about the happenings in the society or world around them.
The Pakistani Media is a source which has given us a wake-up call on many issues, be it democracy, failings of the corrupt government, raising voice for a rape victim or a false rumor or personal life of a celebrity. The media has dragged the mindset to the desired way. It has also compelled to change the mindset to a great extent.
At the same time, the Pakistani media is also involved in and responsible for strengthening stereotypes regarding men and women to a great extent. The men in the media are presenting the image they want to see for women and girls. They are busy sexualizing women, and yet they want to see an innocent, smiling, tolerating, sacrificing, compromising, beautiful (fair), intelligent, working like a machine, and a strong woman. They are giving such an image that makes the concept strong in the mindset; as a girl needs to be soft spoken, a girl who is an athlete needs to have a soft and fair skin, the very unbiased and dumbest standards of beauty is having a fair skin no matter what kind of chemical one uses to fit in those standards. The standards set for women in the Pakistan Media shows the highest level of hypocracy, as they shout out for women’s rights, strong women, women empowerment and on the other hand they torture those women who stand for their rights or want to live their lives by their own, by scandalizing and demeaning them every now and then. They want them empowered yet they cannot tolerate a lady talking to them in a louder tone.
When we talk about acceptance of change for the women of the region, the story is a bit different. People shout out that a girl needs to be strong, needs to be independent enough to roam the world herself, courageous enough that no one dares stare at her, beautiful enough to see the brightness of her soul in her eyes, and yet, we are busy portraying the opposite. The Pakistani media is busy in strengthening the existing stereotypes about who a woman is, and what she should be doing, and what is expected of a girl, or a woman.
Pakistani dramas, talk shows, debates, movies, plays and even news stories, all, are busy giving more power to the existing perceptions about women, instead of challenging the notions and moving the society forward. The dramas that ought to bring positive changes in the society have became a mean of providing suggestions on how to oppress a woman and how to maintain the patriarchy. They show the working women as bossy or authoritarian, they appreciate the domestic women as ideal that every men wants to have as a wife, they show no matter how much you have leveled yourself up you have to make ‘Gol Roti’ to be a perfect spouse, you have to fed the family no matter what the situation is, you have to attain the standards of body figure, one have to sacrifice for the sake of not being called as ‘Divorced’. These typical concepts being repeatedly enforced in the society are suffocating, and in such a society Gender Imbalance will never come to an end, rather increase day by day. The patriarchal society is at a level where they have lost the logical arguments and to get control they prefer personal comments, and does not hesitate in humiliating a person by degrading them, making them unworthy and disrespecting them.
One of the most discouraging thing that has so far been noticed are the young girls been portrayed as less intelligent than boys; the Pakistani Advertisements show the boy/brother being very sensible, intelligent and smart while the girl being lesser than him in every aspect. The boy winning, the girl clapping, the boy being an athlete and the girl as a teacher or a doctor or as caring as her mother. These concepts are inculcating in the mindset of the kids, making the concepts strong and rigid mindset about the concepts. The media is being unfair with the young minds and molding them in the way they want to see the future.
The media should be a source of making the society strong and healthier place to live in; it ought to follow its rules and limitations set for it. It should be a mean to bring changes in the gender roles rather than enforcing them, it should appreciate more and try to be a mean to spread equality, balance and eliminate gender discrimination. Media should stop portraying such negative, powerlessness, degrading, and other negative image of women.
The contributor is a student at Fatima Jinnah Women University.