Explicit sexual scenes have been increased in the mass media world over. From 2000 to 2012, sexual behaviour and sexual suggestiveness increased by 800 per cent in TV programs and films. The average child or teenager today views nearly 14,000 sexual references, innuendoes, and behaviour each year, and less than 150 of those involve birth control, abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases or personal responsibility.
A popular TV channel for young people tells stories that involve sexual imagery 75 per cent of the time, violence more than 50 per cent of the time, and when sexual imagery and violence are combined, the violence is directed against women 80 per cent of the time (Brown & Steele, 1995).
While reviewing mass media’s impact on gender issues in Pakistani society, it’s evident that gender-based violence and stereotype media images often lead to aggressive and biased behaviour towards opposite sex, especially in young people. The image of women presented through local media tends to reinforce the traditional attitudes most of the time. She’s ideally presented as a sex object — dependent and vulnerable while men are usually portrayed as aggressive, manipulative and insensitive. An ambitious, qualified and independent woman often appears as a loner and a loser.
The ever-increasing rate of violent crimes including suicide, rape, robbery, killing and sexual harassment obviously highlights modern media’s contribution to our world. Only if one reviews the last year’s newspapers, one can come across thousands of reports exposing gender-based violent crimes on a regular basis. The cases of Mukhtara Mai, Sonia Naz, Marium Bano and Dr Shazia are only a few that were brought into the limelight while many were brushed under the carpet due to the stigma attached to it.
The use of the Internet to traffic women and sell pornography has further aggravated the exploitation of women. Sex trade and tourism can now use websites for their portrayal of women, with the capacity to reach many more websites. The result is an increased number of women-hating websites online.
There is a need for having a gender balance at all decision-making levels within the media industry. Television as the most popular household medium must refrain from presenting women as inferior and exploiting them as sex objects. On the contrary, it could be a useful tool to promote a positive and realistic image of women.