Fedoseeva.essay.socgender

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Правительство российской федерации
Федеральное государственное автономное образовательное учреждение
Высшего профессионального образования
«национальный исследовательский университет
“высшая школа экономики”»
Факультет социальных наук
Образовательная программа «Социология»
Федосеева Анна Александровна
Any demands for more “realistic” media representations of men and
women are futile since no image is real in our era of hyper-reality
(discussion)
Эссе студента 4 курса бакалавриата группы №155
по социологической теории
Преподаватель
М. А. Давиденко
Москва 2018
Introduction
One of the main aspects of social life with regard to gender that sociologists and feminists
consider for criticism and examination is media resources. More precisely, it means that one of the
research fields is to study the representation of masculinity and femininity in media.
However, after certain advancement the scientists came up with a contradiction in case of
real men’s and women behavior and its representation. In feminists’ studies media is usually
indicted with its biased representation that does not correspond to reality. In opposition to this,
postruscturalists argues that due to the fact that the media not only translates stereotypical and
ideological values about femininity and masculinity to society, but also construct them. Therefore,
they imply that there is no one defined “reality” to represent.
Thus, in my essay I will try to discuss the research problem of social representation of
gender in media of postmodern society and answer the question if any demands for more “realistic”
media representations of men and women are futile since no image is real in our era of hyperreality.
In my work, first of all, I will a reveal a bit the postmodern theoretical approach of Jean
Baudrillard and the conception of hyper-reality. Secondly, I will scrutinize the essay question using
the point of view of postmodern theory, poststrucrutalists’ approach and opposite scientific
approaches to the gender representation in media. To conclude, I am going to express my personal
opinion on the main question and highlight a few general conclusive points on the basis of the
results of my essay.
The main body
So, before discussing gender representation in the media I would like to illuminate main
features of J. Baudrillard’s theory. Before defining concept of hyper-reality itself it is necessary to
explain the notion of simulacrum and its “orders”. Baudrillard tells that a simulacrum is so-called
“an image without an original”, i.e. that representation which does not already has the “reality” to
base on and to represent, so it constructs reality. In Baudrillard’s work he describes simulacra of
hyper-reality through simulacra of different orders which evolves in four types of images. The first
image reflects and has a fundamental meaning, meanwhile being clearly distinguished as a
representation from the reality. The second image still exists on the basis of the fundamental reality
but it either disguises or deforms it. The third image, reaching closely to the hyper-reality, disguises
not the reality but the absence of the reality that it has already lost. Finally, the fourth image does
not reflect or relate to any reality that can possibly exist being its own “pure simulacra”. 12
1
Kuzina O. Postmodernity and sociology // Lecture 13 for Academic group. URL:
https://vk.com/doc16228294_478847551?hash=2b24c44edbea247488&dl=fcade9f1c7d0d4063f (date of session:
19.10.2018)
Thereby, hyper-reality being produced by simulacra is the gap between the real world in
which we live and communicate and its representation in the media resources. The main feature of
postmodern concept of hyper-reality is that it can not only damage the real situation while
presenting it, but also present completely fake images that have no connection with reality. The
classic example as a perfect model of hyper-reality and simulacra of all orders: when you enter you
still have everything connected with the objective reality, and then you are steadily absorbed by
different images that can reflect the real social system of your environment in various degrees.
From this point, as I disclosed the key notion of hyper-reality of postmodern, it would be
useful to associate it with poststructuralists’ approach to the media and reality. So, if from
Baudrillard’s we see the connection between the media and the social reality directed in one way,
when the media either does rely on social reality or does not, then poststructuralists (by them R. Gill
in her book “Gender and the Media” refer to J. Derrida, M. Foucault and J. Lacan) assume mutual
correlation, where not only social reality affect the media, but also the media affects social reality.
Therefore, there can not exist one true and clearly defined social reality that it usually what
feminists scientists “fight” for – at the most we can follow our own version of reality, which in any
case still will be influenced by media and other social factors. 3
Here we receive quite complex and confusing interconnection. Firstly, there is a fact that
media damage and ignore social facts in representing life and gender roles specifically. Secondly,
the fact that media affects the reality and people consciousnessly and subconsciousnessly
“swallow” and follow the stereotypes and role models so we lose the reality. Nevertheless, further I
will review some points why it can still be valuable to demand more objectivity from media
content.
The first critique of the approach about invincible hyper-reality is that scientist consider
audience of media content as passive and nearly “lazy” consumers that absorb any information
without criticizing it or being at least a bit reflective. Stuart Hall in his research on TV audience
concluded that one message in media content can include more than one meaning to translate to the
audience (beside the one that authors supposed to). What is more important, is the conclusion about
interpretation of the messages: in Hall’s study he found out that the same message can be read in
different ways by different consumers. Therefore, if it is necessary to prove wrong the useless of
demanding “true reality” in gender representation, it is possible to say the following. If the creators
of media content will provide and show images that represent not the common stereotypes about
what “usually” women or men do or do not do, but fill materials mostly neutral and minimize
distinction between gender role model, then it would be more difficult to the audience to interpret
Бодрийяр Ж. Прецессия симулякров // [пер. с фр. А. Кача­ лова]. — М. : Издательский дом «ПОСТУМ», 2015.
C. 7-23
3
Gill, R. (2007). Gender and the Media. In: R. Gill. Gender and the media. Cambridge: Polity, pp. 16-44.
2
the messages in different ways and it could be useful for translating the equal position of men and
women. 4
From my point of view, it also important to not forget about the demanding “reality” as
using media we can still change the consciousness of the society, trying to make new and old
generations more open for not traditional and new gender roles and family models in society. Using
media as an instrument is important in aim to be responsible for the future of the social reality we
live in and to have gender equality.
Conclusion
In my work above I tried to illuminate the work conception of hyper-reality,
poststructuralism approach and discuss the question about importance of telling “truth” in media
resources. Although I could not manage to disclose the second half of my work, nevertheless, I
would conclude that there it still make sense to “fight” for the representing not traditional gender
stereotypes but different kind of gender role model that is not considered by audience as not
deviant, so we can change society’s perspectives on gender in the future.
References
Hall, S. Encoding, decoding in the television discourse. // Hall, S., Hobson, D. & Lowe, P.
(eds). Culture, Media, Language. — London: Hutchinson, 1980
2. Бодрийяр Ж. Прецессия симулякров // [пер. с фр. А. Кача­ лова]. — М. :
Издательский дом «ПОСТУМ», 2015. C. 7-23
3. Gill, R. (2007). Gender and the Media. In: R. Gill. Gender and the media. Cambridge:
Polity, pp. 16-44
4. Kuzina O. Postmodernity and sociology // Lecture 13 for Academic group. URL:
https://vk.com/doc16228294_478847551?hash=2b24c44edbea247488&dl=fcade9f1c7d0d4
063f (date of session: 19.10.2018).
1.
1.
4
Hall, S. Encoding, decoding in the television discourse. // Hall, S., Hobson, D. & Lowe, P. (eds). Culture, Media,
Language. — London: Hutchinson, 1980
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