Moroccan media distorts women's image, study says
By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 06/07/10
Moroccan media distorts the image of women, according to a recent survey undertaken by the communication ministry.
Overall, Moroccan females believe that their image is so misrepresented and manipulated that it does not mirror the reality of Moroccan women, the survey said.
Advertising and drama are the farthest from reality in terms of perception of everyday women's lives, said women whose opinions were recorded in the final report released on June 30th.
According to survey participants, advertising focussed more on household chores and presented women as traditional, unskilled and submissive to men. In drama, women felt they were portrayed as more manipulative, promiscuous and dumb.
On the other hand, women are presented as educated, elegant, experienced, independent, responsible and highly regarded in the news.
According to the report, the news presents the reality of a minority of women elites, while the picture reflected in drama and advertising is that of extreme cases of a minority of Moroccan women.
Television does not present how women are capable of reconciling different functions of their professional, private and personal lives, survey participants said. Television does not alter the image of men, and continues to promote male dominance.
Participants said television never showed situations where a husband and wife help each other with chores, and gave the impression that women could gain respect in the workplace but were still inferior and oppressed in their homes.
Both print and audiovisual media play a major role in shaping public opinion, Communication Minister Khalid Naciri said on June 30th. In his view, it promotes certain principles and values and propagates thoughts.
"This kind of media, controlled by people who have their own agenda, can also spread stereotypes," he said. "These images and stereotypes have more impact than when they are communicated through television, because the picture, without a doubt, has an effect on public behaviour. Indeed, these stereotypes and prejudice do not reflect all the developments benefiting women's rights and do not follow all the progress made in this field."
The survey recommends that television should better reflect the social developments of women and attempt to correct the current problems of representation. The report also recommends that television should present a more diverse picture of women, and highlight their different professional and marital statuses.
In short, the report said, reality should be covered without being generalising or demeaning. For instance, when a drama shows young students engaging in prostitution for money or designer clothes, it can have a significant impact on rural parents who are already reluctant to send their daughters to boarding high schools in a neighbouring city.
In order to change stereotypes, monitoring committees must be created to make recommendations and raise awareness, sociologist Houda Smirni told Magharebia.
"Media, especially the audiovisual, must be involved in the equality of both genders through awareness programmes and through its other broadcasted programmes, because the messages they communicate have a major influence on viewers," she said.
Sanae Yaacoubi, a student, stressed that it is time to recognise what women really are worth, and to rise above the images of the past that confine them to a secondary role.
"Morocco has evolved and so has the status of women, even if there is still a long way to go to change some attitudes in order to achieve the desired freedom," she told Magharebia.
"Media must be a mirror reflecting the reality as is, all to raise awareness on the benefits of gender equality," she said.
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