July 16, 2019

How does the media distort women’s perception of self?

Karen Blanch

Mixed media: Watercolor, marker, pen, digital backgroundDon't Let Them See, Don't Let Them Hear, Don't Let Them Speak,

This piece explores how media, as an extension of our societal values, censor and distort women’s voices and perception of themselves by limiting our representation and access to our own stories.

As Susan B. Anthony wrote in the 1880s, “Just as long as newspapers are controlled by men, every woman upon them must write articles which are reflections of men’s ideas. As long as that continues, women’s ideas and deepest convictions will never get before the public.” While we have, of course, made great strides since Susan B. Anthony’s time, women’s roles in mass media still remain largely stereotypical, as does the agenda of most “women’s media” such as films and magazines. Women’s voices in media channels still make up a definitive minority. (For statistics on women working status in media, please see IWMF and Women’s Media Center reports).

This pieces reverses the maxim of the Three Wise Monkeys- See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil: our eyes, ears and mouth are veiled by curated media feeding us patriarchal, conformist images of women’s roles. Even our bodies are censored and placed under the domain of men by popular rhetoric as well as conservative male legislators. We are constantly fed unrealistic, constructed imagery of bodily ideals we are meant to strive for, designed to alienate us and make us feel dissatisfied with our natural bodies. To free ourselves from this bondage of constructs we must uncover our eyes, become aware of the lies, and listen to our real voices, woman-to-woman.

Watercolor, marker and pen illustration overlaid with women’s magazine covers.