Equality for women requires real cultural change, and the media has to be at the centre of that. Women have the right to be taken seriously as human beings but media coverage is all too often casually reductive. Young women are sex objects or victims; older women are cougars or victims or invisible. All this harms young girls, the vast majority of whom believe the media should ensure women are properly represented.
We all know that the picture of women presented in the media is false. It has to change to ensure our girls and boys grow up comfortable in themselves. It has to change so women can be heard, and to make sure women get an equal chance to shape the way our society thinks. Equality in the media will support all of our other objectives, whether that is in helping show that dads can care, that female politicians shouldn’t be asked about their handbags, that girls don’t need to be stick thin and boys don’t need to be macho to be men. Although many broadcasters and journalists are taking steps to improve the representation of women, and WE celebrate that, it needs to happen now: it needs to change so that the equal country WE want is the one we read about in our newspapers and watch on our TVs.
Our e-Quality campaign launched in June 2016, aims to protect the rights of women online. Together with the Liberal Democrats, WE are put forward amendments to protect victims of revenge porn. Read more about the e-Quality campaign >>
WE stand for:
An end to sexualisation and violence against women
When violence against women is trivialised, women are discouraged from reporting it, and offenders feel freer to continue. Sexualisation and “asexualisation” have different effects on different groups of women, in particular those who are marginalised for other reasons in our society. For example, disabled women are often portrayed as asexual, BAME women as hypersexual, and Muslim women who choose to wear a headscarf as oppressed regardless of their own views. All these stereotypes reduce women’s healthy exploration of their sexuality and identity and undermine efforts to create a culture of consent and end to violence against women and girls.
Challenging gender stereotypes and ideals
When children are force-fed gendered stereotypes in every advert they see, teachers and parents face an uphill struggle to challenge them. And when images are deliberately manipulated – legs lengthened, wrinkles smoothed, lashes thickened – to sell products or magazines, is it any wonder women feel under increasing pressure to focus on unattainable ideals of beauty instead of other forms of achievement?
Representing the people
Researchers have shown that in the most popular TV programmes across three genres and four channels, men outnumber women by a ratio of almost 6:4. WE value the dynamism and creativity of the UK’s media industry and recognise the UK’s strong tradition of free speech, but believe more must be done to ensure fair and balanced representations of women.
Safer online and social media
Social media have enabled people to connect and communicate throughout the world in an unprecedented way. These new methods of communication are welcome and thrilling to be part of. However, some platforms have permitted an atmosphere to develop where abuse, trolling, revenge porn and threatening behaviour are tolerated or even endemic; restoring mutual respect and decency to people’s online interactions will benefit us all.