Women Studies/Effect of the Media on Female Leadership

Effect of the Media on Female LeadershipEdit

An area of riddled progress for feminism is in the media. The media has tremendous influence on modern society and consequently that influence can be a mixture of positives and negatives which can have the effect of advancing women in leadership roles or holding them back. Media sexism leaves women with the unfortunate situation of not just having to choose how to respond but to also have to deal with the personal blow which could range from damaging their self-esteem to damaging their entire livelihood.

In September 2014, in televised FOX news program called “The Five” which airs at 5pm weeknights, co-hosts Greg Gutfeld and Eric Bolling responded to a news story about Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri who was the first female fighter pilot for the United Arab Emirates to fly bombing missions over ISIS operations in Syria. “Problem is, after she bombed it, she couldn’t park it” remarked Greg, “Would that be considered boob’s on the ground?” replied Eric. Eric, realizing he had made a mistake, issued an apology on The Five the next day: “I made a joke and when I got home, I got the look,” continuing to explain, “I said sorry to my wife and I apologize to you all and want to make that very clear.” So how does Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri take on the sexism? In an interview with Deraa Al Watan magazine in response to questions about competition with men she said “Everybody is required to have the same high level of combat competence,” and "[I] focused on competing with myself to improve skills”. She also added that "Competing with oneself is conducive to continued learning.” Her remarks reflected how she responds to sexism by disregarding it so that it would not impact her performance and image as an inspirational leader for women.

In October 2014 at the Forbes’ “30 under 30 Summit” in Philadelphia Monica Lewinsky broke over a decade of personal silence in a speech to young and aspiring entrepreneurs. Hers is perhaps one of the most famous examples of how the modern media can completely destroy a person’s reputation and livelihood. The 1998 breaking story of 22 year old White House intern Monica Lewinsky, who started an affair with married US President Bill Clinton in 1995 devastated her personally and publically. She started off with a not so sincere thank you to several musicians namely “Beyonce and Eminem. And Nicki Minaj and Kid Cudi, Lil B and Lil Wayne, and of course G-eazy. But let’s not forget Jeezy, and all the rest.” for all of their rap lyrics which included her. She made remarks on how the media impacted her personally saying “It felt like a punch in the gut,” continuing to say, “For me, that was every day in 1998. There was a rotation of worsening name calling and descriptions of me. I would go online, read in a paper or see on TV people referring to me as: tramp, slut, whore, tart, bimbo, floozy, even spy.” Society’s modern 24 hour cable news network destroyed her life as she knew it, she said “The experience of shame and humiliation online is different than offline. There is no way to wrap your mind around where the humiliation ends — there are no borders.” and that a day “spent shouting: “Oh my god!” and “I can’t believe they put that in” or “That’s so out of context.” summed up “the only thoughts that interrupted a relentless mantra in my head: I want to die.” Her call to action was “I don’t know which came first: the coarsening of the culture or the worsening of behavior. Either way, what we need is a radical change in attitudes — on the internet, mobile platforms and in the society of which they are a part.” Monica is right and her strong speech provides a leadership message on why society needs to radically change its attitudes, and applies not only to individual members of society but also the media conglomerates that push all of their headlines out there 24 hours a day.

Not every women is completely destroyed by the media’s coverage and gossip, take pop music star Ariana Grande as an example. Arianna is regularly subjected to the media prodding over her relationship status and events that is typical of celebrity men and women, but when the media gossip crossed the line for her surrounding a recent break-up she posted a personal letter to her Twitter feed to elaborate how it really feels to be a single female celebrity. “I’m saying that after literally 8 years of feeling like I constantly had to have a boy by my side. After being on my own now for a few months I am realizing that’s just not the case….. I have never felt more present, grounded, and satisfied. I’ve never laughed harder or had more fun or enjoyed my life more.” she explained in her letter. She added “I want the people reading this to know that they are MORE THAN enough on their own. I want the media to please help me with this!!!!!!!! Please support each other.” She also talked about the double standard for men and women portrayed by the media, in which men are applauded for their romantic activities, while women are shamed. Ariana Grande is a great leadership example for other women to follow as she has turned to taking the media’s negativity and turning it into an opportunity to empower other women while exposing the false messages broadcast by the media.