Of Women’s Misrepresentation in the Media (1)

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Women are female humans created by God to complement and support the male folks as well as contribute in the creation task assigned by God to man. Without women, there would be no biological creation as it takes the coming together of a woman and a man to ensure procreation. This is not however to say that the woman is more important in the science of procreation. She just happens to be as important as the man.

Over the years, women have been apt in the duty of supporting their partners and bearing children inasmuch as the strength and resources exists to do so. And since these happen to be their core responsibilities, they have tried to carry out these primary responsibilities without wavering irrespective of how challenging the task gets.

Societies who recognise the vital role played by women in those days kept and still keep monuments, sculptors, statures and other graven images as a mark of remembrance to keep the memories of their dead virtuous women alive. Such images include that of Mary Slessor, Moremi of Ife, Queen Aminat of Zaria, Emotan of Benin and etc. Those were the days when women were respected and treasured for their worth. Certain values, beliefs and philosophies were held in high esteem and taught to the younger children by these batches of women who would not close their eyes or take sides with a child’s misbehaviour or misconduct in the public or within their privacy.

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It should be noted that the women being referred to here were women of virtue who combined all cumbersome domestic tasks alongside societal and state affairs without exhibiting pride, self-centredness or anything away from humaneness; women who stood up for what was right from the four-walls of their homes to their immediate neighbourhood and the general society at large. Such were the women whom today are no more, or exist in frail and fragile forms having nothing to offer to the happening and updated women of today.

This piece is therefore the voice of one in the wilderness crying out for the projection of women in good light by the media as opposed to what is now known as ad tools in our various mediums of mass communication. Before going further, it is important to stress that if the mouse at home does not invite the one outside to join him in partaking of his host’s goodies, the external mouse would never know of such opportunity.

It is no news that women have become sales promoters of various wares, goods and services nationally and internationally courtesy of their feminine charm. That is their smile, smooth skin, white teeth, fair complexion, curved edges and shape, long or short artificial hair, beautiful face, an assumed hot legs, and etc. On every street, major/minor roads and highways, we see Billboards of women advertising wares varying from home utensils to furniture, landed properties, cars, hospitality outfits, toiletries, food stuffs, hair treatments and body creams as well as a number of assorted items which may not apply to them. All thanks to their expressionable looks which we have been made to believe ‘moves market’ more than a man or child on the Billboard.  

Before now, women only advertised goods that were relevant to them such as baby needs, kitchen needs, hair needs and toiletries but that no longer counts. Women now advertise things they rarely can afford to buy or own. Even things used mostly by men such as boxers, dry gin, luxurious cars, furniture, Aeroplanes, Hotels, branded perfumes, wrist watches, shoes, briefcases and etc, are advertised by women courtesy of their feminity. The question is, can men not advertise? Can men not smile better, look better and create an appealing sight as well? If men also make use of these items, should they not be in the media as well?

Though pertinent, the issue does not end at the employ of women in the advertisements of these products, it extends to the way and mode they are showcased in the ads. Many atimes, the models are sexily dressed with no recourse to decency and modesty, and they carry an enticing look that is sure to stir up an interest in the mind of any careless man. Thus, the attention of the audience is made to shift from the product to the model. Research has shown that many viewers of advertising models consequently develop a strong liking for the model than the product itself. This is not far from the fact that the styles, postures and positions taken by these models have gone beyond product marketing to body marketing. It would therefore not be wrong to assert that many models on the mediums of mass communication see their role as a means of announcing their availability to their highest bidder. This, if one may ask is an aberration and abuse of the dignity of womanhood.

As mentioned earlier, women are being employed for these debasing functions because they have made themselves available and open for commerce. While there are advertising agencies looking out for women who would expose more integral parts of their bodies, there are also young women falling over themselves to get their clothes off for public view over an agreed amount. This tells how much the values instilled on us by our fore-mothers have been done away with. No longer is regard given to modesty, decency and proper body coverage. It no longer matters. Being a modest girl no longer pays.

The movie industry has further worsened the situation of things by portraying women as witches, prostitutes, gossips, stubborn, husband snatchers, desperate housewives, wicked mother-in-laws and step-mothers as well as jealous co-wives. Thus, women are beginning to be devilish, wicked and terrible human beings in the eyes of their male counterparts. Without being fanatic, good women have lost their dignity to the hands of morally uncultured and conscience-lacking women who see it as boldness to walk half-naked in public places and damn every damnable consequence that may arise from it. Infact, women on this angle of life have come to receive more encomiums from the society than the modest ones but thank God we still have the good men who appreciate and readily identify with sound moral values.          

Women should as a matter of urgency look into this cankerworm that is eating deep into the fabrics of its dignity. Little is being heard of today’s women when compared with the exploits of yesterday’s women. We haven’t done much to advance the course of state and nation growth rather; we decline in morals and values. Women around the world should be known for running countries, businesses and raising children as well. They should exhibit homely characteristics such as caring better for the sick, caring for their families and communities, and look after the most vulnerable in the society instead of craving to be moraless models on screen or Billboards. The strength of a woman does not lie in her ability to seduce her male counterparts by showcasing her flawless skin, tempting smile and hot legs; it is in her ability to radiate true beauty in her words, deeds and modest appearance. 

Mahatma Ghandi saw the woman’s strength when he observed that “if by strength is meant moral power, the woman is immeasurably man’s superior … if non-violence is the law of our being, the future is women…” Ban Ki-Moon also confirms this when he noted that “countries with more gender equality have better economic growth, companies with more women leaders perform better, peace agreements that include women are more durable, parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support.” The woman’s strength in totality contributes in the making of an ideal family, ideal society and an ideal state.

Without any recourse to fashion and advertising models, this piece totally criticises and condemns the abuse of women’s dignity in the media in the name of sales promotion. Women should not be portrayed in bad light but dressed in robes of honour, respect and dignity. To be continued…