Does the mass media cause undesireable social consequences with specific reference to
It started by way of messengers and scribes, evolved through the presentation of newspapers and
radio, brought us together with television, and now serves us world-wide via the ever-popular
Internet. It is the mass media, and even from the earliest days of its existence, it has contributed
greatly in ways that both enlighten and enrich society, and ways that deteriorate and perplex it. It
is not a surprise to learn, then, that the mass media is the most powerful source of information
we have, and nothing else in today’’s world influences public perception quite as heavily.
Unfortunately, however, most of what is broadcast or transmitted in the news today is with
reference to the chaotic condition of our planet, or something else that society as a whole sees as
detrimental or damaging. But the news on television is not the only type of media taking the
criticism of society. Other forms of mass media, specifically movies and television programs
containing pornography and violence have been heavily criticized. The underlining concept to be
debated here is that society is negatively influenced, specifically, by these images of
pornography and the result is increased violence against women. This assumption, and it is
indeed only an assumption, is completely fallacious, however, as no concrete and completely
conclusive evidence has ever been formulated in support of the theory. The key premise here is
that the mass media does not cause undesirable social behaviour and in actuality, the media
people should not be dubbed as the ““bad guys””. They simply use their power in the most
constructive ways possible in order to promote their ratings and popularity. One way to do that is
to concentrate on what sells: sex, violence and disaster.
Having said this, why is it then, that many in society still believe otherwise; why do they
continue to believe that pornography is ““evil”” and is a major cause for violence against
women, specifically rape? There are many reasons for this misinterpretation and through the
following few points, an attempt will be made to show that pornography has very little to almost
no correlation with violence against women (of course nothing is ““absolute”” in society). In
order to demonstrate this, it must be made evident that pornography is not ““evil”” and does not
cause undesirable social behaviour by displaying nude women in sexually explicit
circumstances. Thus, it is important to indicate that women are not treated only as sexual objects
through the media. This is done in an attempt to quash any traces of ““evil”” in pornography.
Subsequently, a second point, that some may consider to be completely bizarre, can be
addressed; that pornography actually reduces the amount of violence against women.
For thousands of years, sex itself has been considered ““evil”” and revolting. This is exactly why
the concealment of the sex organs and teaching feelings of shame toward human sexuality is so
common worldwide (Christensen 1990:4). These same feelings of shame are the chief reasons
that sex is considered a personal and private matter. Contrary to the beliefs of many, the mass
media did not create these settings; society creates this image. In some societies, women have no
reservations with regard to living their entire lives completely naked, while in other societies,
females cover themselves from head to toe, only revealing their eyes. The media has been
bombarded with criticism, overwhelmingly from the female community, relative to the amount
of sexually explicit material that is published in magazines and that appears on television and in
the cinemas. A common argument against pornography is that the media portrays women as
being nothing more than sexual playthings and objects to satisfy male sexual desires. As before,
the media once again, is not to be held responsible for creating this image; these views are
products of society.
It would be downright absurd to assume that women in this society are treated as sexual objects
only because the media releases or broadcasts pornographic material. A magazine associated
with make-up and skin care, for example, will quite obviously not be concentrating on much
else. Such a magazine would not display pictures of women who mountain-climb or women who
water-ski; only images of make-up and text referring to skin care would be relevant. Clearly,
society does not consider women to be beings who’’s only purpose in life is to worry about
make-up and skin care; but why are the complaints only directed towards pornographic media
then? The answer to this question may be