Media Representation of Men


Media bias against men generally falls into two categories: errors of commission and errors of omission.

Such errors of commission are common in the mass media (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, movies, and the internet). TV is perhaps the worst offender in this category. Men are routinely portrayed as boorish and inadequate at best; violent and perverted at worst. TV sitcoms commonly feature pathetic and uncouth men who are constantly in need of rescue by their “superior” girlfriends, wives, or female relatives. It is also “acceptable” for women to kick, punch and slap men in these programs. Even worse, crime shows routinely depict men as sexually deviant and murderous. Meanwhile, commercials portray men as idiots, unable to care for their children or understand the function of household appliances.

Of course, this contempt for men can be found in other media as well. Newspapers and magazines commonly print articles written from a feminist perspective. The reader is given the impression that women as a group are victims of male oppression, when the reality is far more complex and ambiguous. Cartoons often mock men and boys as stereotypes rather than real people, while also portraying violence against males as humorous.

Men’s advocates often ask whether it would be acceptable to substitute “women” or “blacks” for “men” in the above situations. Such disrespect wouldn’t be tolerated. Surely men deserve the same consideration from the media.

Errors of omission occur when a male perspective is either omitted or downplayed in the above situations. For example, the phrase “women and children” is commonly used when describing people affected by a particular crisis. This implies that men are somehow more expendable. The phrase “men, women, and children” is much more inclusive. If the media is to achieve a fair balance in gender issues, men’s viewpoints should get the same attention as women’s viewpoints.



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© 2003 by Steven G. Van Valkenburg.  Adapted from “What is the Men’s Movement” by Trudy W. Schuett.  Content used with permission of the author.