NUJ members vote to educate media on images of women

| November 24, 2009 | 0 Comments

THE widespread use of idealised images of women is linked to the shocking statistics on domestic violence, Bristol branch chair Christina Zaba told ADM 2009 in Southport.

She presented research which shows how pictures of women used in the media so often present them as glamour objects, while pictures of men are much more likely to show them in active and responsible roles.

Analysis of magazines reveals that in covers which featured people for their idealised appearance, 84 per cent were of women and 16per cent were of men. In covers which featured people for what they do (sport, politics, music) the proportions were reversed: 85 per cent of the images were of men, and just 15 per cent were of women. Women were poorly represented in leadership positions too.

Bristol branch proposed Motion 107, framed by the branch’s Equality Officer Katy Ladbrook, which called on the conference to ‘recognise the evidence of the Fawcett Society’s Representation of Women in the Media research’, published in Bristol in 2008 and presented to the NUJ’s Women’s Conference in February 2009.

The motion also called on the NUJ’s National Executive Council to ‘actively promote positive and equitable media representations of women and to counter misrepresentations’.

Proposing the motion, branch chair Christina Zaba noted that images teach the public what to think, and that journalists and media workers have a special responsibility in shaping public opinion.

“Although women love glamming up and being looked at, and men love to look, this is about who has the power,” she said. “Who is acting, who is leading? Remembering the cliche: women do more than half the world’s labour, are half the population, own 10 per cent of the world’s property and just one per cent of its wealth.

“There is a link between these figures and these passive images and the shocking statistics on domestic violence in Western society. Hundreds of thousands of women are abused and two women in this country are actually killed every week by abusive partners.

“As journalists, we all have a responsibiity to represent women in a more active and empowered way.”

Ann Coltart seconded the motion on behalf of the NUJ’s Equality Council and, in another success for Bristol NUJ, it was unanimously carried.

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