Each day we are exposed to hundreds, even thousands of messages from TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, Internet, billboards and even clothing. No matter where we go or what we do, the media surrounds us.
The media often use stereotypical or negative images to portray women, visible minorities, youth, LGBQT and disabled people. These images can influence our values and beliefs about violence, gender roles and body image. The under and misrepresentation of women and other minorities is a powerful tool for maintaining social, political and economic inequality. More than ever, girls are surrounded by images of female beauty that are unrealistic and unattainable. Studies show that girls who watch TV commercials featuring underweight models lose self-confidence and become more dissatisfied with their own bodies and girls who spent the most time and effort on their appearance suffer the greatest loss in confidence. Organizing workshops and events that focus on the ways in which the media constructs reality in a biased manner can help challenge its validity and diminish the impact of its negative messaging.
The good news is, as media users, we are all in charge. We have the freedom to make decisions about what we want to experience and when. Our challenge is to learn how to make intelligent and thoughtful choices and view them through a critical lens. Learning to actively interpret and question the media we are exposed to can help to diminish the effects negative images we are exposed to and encourage thoughtful choices about media consumption.
- Become Media-Savvy - Workshop facilitators and educators can find some tips on challenging the media's portrayal of violence, gender roles and the representation of girls by visiting our GirlSpace™ website at www.ywcagirlspace.ca
- Safe Surfing on the Net - Many parents voice concerns about inappropriate content (including pornography, violence and hate propaganda) and interaction and safety issues in relation to their children's Internet use. Ask your local police, RCMP, library, school, ISP provider or other knowledgeable source to facilitate a workshop to teach parents, children and youth what to do in an uncomfortable online encounter and who to notify.
- Develop a critical eye - How does what you see effect you? Watch a popular T.V. show or the news then talk about it. Organize a popular culture club to examine the ways in which the media portrays women, people of colour and LGBQT individuals.
Looking for women’s anti-violence resources in Canada to help you plan your event or connect with a community partner? Check out our extensive list.