Magazines' Representation of Women and Its Influence on Identity Construction: A South African Perspective
Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences
South Africa is now in its third decade of democracy and is characterised by a social and political dispensation based on the principles of freedom of expression, non-racialism and non-sexism. These values ought to be entrenched in all aspects of our society and likewise, in the media we consume. Media is a powerful tool and through its representation contributes significantly to the definition of the world around us, and thereby also to the definition of ourselves. One such area that the media
... area that the media influence is the way women are represented. The media takes on an interpretative role and teaches us how to 'make sense' of the world and therefore consistently privilege some issues and identities while devaluing others. The media landscape in South Africa is large, complex, robust and mature and arguably, ranks among the largest in Africa. Magazines in particular, are modern and are popular cultural forms of representation. They are one of the most influential forces in South African culture today. The aim of this paper is to explore the representation of women in magazines and the extent of how this representation influences gender identity in either empowering or limiting the development of women in society. It employs a qualitative research methodology to examine content of selected articles in South Africa's two leading weekly magazines namely DRUM and YOU. Content analysis was used to analyse specific categories of text collected from these magazines. Overall findings reveal that stereotypical, dismissive and confining representations of women prevail in magazine media content. Creating and sustaining change must involve challenging this media content to not only increase the type of coverage of women but to extend the range of diversity to include coverage a range of stories about women including achievements and success stories of women.