Blurred lines: Exploring contemporary attitudes to gender portrayal in the media

James Bryson and David Bunker
MTM and BBC Television

Gender and society

Despite major changes in the circumstances and attitudes of both men and women over the last 50 years the issue of gender is still very much alive in British society today – and not just in the realm of the media. There are still significant gaps in pay (women currently earn, on average, £2.53 less per hour than men do, which equates to 80 pence for every pound a man is paid1) and the British Social Attitudes survey shows that there is still a lot further to go in pursuit of equality in the home (60% of women report doing more than their fair share of the housework compared with just 15% of men2)

For women in particular, our qualitative research identified a range of areas in contemporary life where gender-related problems were a cause for concern for. These include:

  • Life balance – a societal expectation that women should be able to 'have it all' in terms of a career and family, which can put immense pressure on working mums (and, to a lesser extent, dads)
  • Body image – a pre-occupation with physical appearance and body size (e.g. in gossip magazines), which can impact negatively on feelings of self-worth amongst younger women (in particular)
  • A sense of a growing contemporary culture of sexually offensive or abusive language and behaviour towards females – e.g. from misogynistic lyrics in pop songs (e.g. Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines) to rape jokes on social media to real world examples of sexual harassment on public transport