Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Media...

This is what the Shriver report had to say (to clarify, this was written by a feminist)

Women’s professional success and financial status are significantly overrepresented in the mainstream media, suggesting that women indeed “have it all.”

The critique of media out of a MRA view is quite different. To cite from Jim R. Macnamara 2006 study:
(EDIT: A linkt to it is here)

This extensive analysis of mass media news, current affairs, talk shows and lifestyle media found that these primary sources of what are claimed and widely seen as ‘fact’, ‘truth’ and ‘reality’ predominantly portray men as violent and aggressive thieves, murderers, wife and girlfriend bashers, sexual abusers, molesters, perverts, irresponsible deadbeat dads and philanderers, even though, in reality, only a small proportion of men act out these roles and behaviors. [...] almost 70% of all reporting and comment on men and male identity in the mass media genre studied was negative and more than 80% of portrayals of men and male identity were unfavourable. Violence and aggression are overwhelmingly the most frequent representations associated with men and boys [...] Men and boys are also widely represented as irresponsible, risk-taking, commitment phobic, insensitive, undomesticated, out of touch with their feelings and poor communicators.

With the exception of a small minority of positive media portrayals of male heroes such as war veterans, fire fighters and rescuers, and an equally small percentage of portrayals of men as good fathers, husbands and citizens, the only males presented positively are men and boys who have been ‘feminised’ such as ‘metrosexuals’ and males who exhibit “a feminine side”. In short, the only good in men, according to most discourse reflected and propagated in mass media, are traits alleged to be female. Maleness is widely represented as innately and culturally evil, and characteristics of masculinity are principally portrayed as undesirable and anachronistic – notably aggression, violence, sexual predaciousness and promiscuity, competitiveness and traditional body image.


Qualitative analysis also conducted as part of this study shows highly negative messages concerning men and male identity are communicated through  influential ‘quality’ media as well as ‘popular’ press (University of Queensland, 1992); are contributed by credible sources such as academics and best-selling authors (see Figure 23); and are couched in semiotically significant (ie. persuasive) language as shown in chapter five. In-depth text analysis techniques reveal that, tonally, mass media content frequently includes highly critical and even vitriolic attacks on men and male identity, and balance is not provided through oppositional (ie. male supportive) views in all but a few cases. Analysis confirms bias against men in key areas of discourse in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

It can be concluded from this study that men are widely demonised, marginalised, trivialised and objectified in mass media. These findings support and expand those of Nathanson and Young (2001) and others who have reported “misandry” and denigration of men in modern societies.


Generalisations [...] such as women are better communicators than men and claims that the world would be peaceful and a better place if women were in charge, are allowed to pass unchallenged in popular and in academic discourse reported in mass media. Statements of superiority in reverse (ie. suggestions that men are better than women) are defined as sexism and viewed as ‘politically incorrect’ and even illegal in some cases. This analysis shows that gender discrimination in language and discourse cited by Weatherall (2002) has reversed, or at least applies to both genders.

On Academia:

A significant number of mass media articles contributed by writers external to the media on subjects such as domestic violence and fatherhood indicate that  viewpoints propagated on these subjects are reflective of at least some elements of society. In particular, analysis of sources contributing the most negative discourse on men and male identity suggests that these views are reflective of intellectual and academic thinking. [...]  In this sense, mass media cannot be ‘blamed’ for the views expressed and one must consider the implications of these negative views of men being held in societies. That highly negative views of men are held within intellectual and academic fields is potentially of more concern than the potential for mass media communication of these views to influence society, as it indicates that these attitudes already exist and that they exist at an influential level. University lecturers, trainers, writers and senior political appointees frame education and social and political policy for future generations.

Similar findings:

Woods (1999) says that “the hegemonic discourse of the ‘flawed male’ can only lead to the experience of social exclusion for many young men, an experience that is known to lead to disastrous consequences for the well-being of individuals and communities”.

Macdonald et al. (2000) conclude from their studies: “We would suggest that there is a strong element of negativity in our culture about men which cannot contribute to positive mental health and we must actively pursue cultural  initiatives which promote in boys and men a positive sense of self”.

And feminism:

Given the celebratory tone of feminism towards being a woman and femininity, this suggests that being a woman is a laudable accomplishment, a source of  pride. But the widespread criticism and at times vitriolic attacks on men and masculinity suggest that being a man/male is a failing and a cause for shame.

Views such as that of Ferguson, and pro-feminist writers such as Webb (1998) who claims that traditional masculinity is redundant and needs to be “junked”, fall into the trap of generalising and are extreme in that they recognise no good in men or masculinity at all. This is a position also taken by pro-feminist academics such as Connell (1995a) and Edgar (1998) who urge men to discard traditional masculinity and evolve instead to feminist-dominated gender studies notions of what they should be – usually involving, as Edgar’s concluding chapter title says “Reshaping masculinity”.

Significantly, feminism has not denounced any of the wide range of femininities that exist and, instead, advocates that women can be whatever they want to be – wives, careerists, jet fighter pilots, astronauts, strippers, prostitutes, or ‘girlies’ wearing mini-skirts and boas. Third Wave feminism has celebrated traditional feminine values and traits as well as opened up new ‘narratives of the self’ for women. However, widely propagated discourse tells men that they need to totally discard traditional masculinities and be “reconstructed”.

Discourse suggests that women can be whatever they want to be; men have to be what feminist-dominated discourses dictate they should be, affording them limited possibilities and denying them self-determination and autonomy as individuals. This position is in conflict with the philosophy of choice widely advanced in feminist gender theory. If men are to be ‘liberated’ and afforded the same autonomy that women claim, they need to be allowed to be what they want to be. Imperfect that may be at times, but social equity suggests that men should be allowed to write themselves into existence and be given voice in the discourse that forms the scripts that other men use to write themselves into existence.

Interesting read, that is for sure.


  1. Excellent round up that I haven't seen anywhere else. Thanks.

  2. This correlates perfectly with the way I perceive the media landscape today. Very nice to have figures to back it up with. I'm linking your blog extensively. Thanks!