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Category: Feminism, International, Media, Media Monitoring

Progressive Girls’ Voices Blogger: How Women are Represented In Chilean Media

| June 17, 2011

The sexualization and objectification of women in Chile is evident in many different aspect of the country's life. There is a large amount of deep-rooted prejudice against women abandoning their responsibilities at home for an independent life and carrier. Stereotypes of a women's role solely being that of a wife and homemakers have been extremely difficult to break through.

But this is not to say that women are completely underrepresented. Chilean women head the six most prominent journalism schools and have made huge strides in the world or newspapers, magazines and television. The changing political and social world of Chile means a changing in the influence of women.

Politically, there has been a large effort to close around 100 coffee shops where women serve coffee in bikinis. As Santiago congresswoman Maria Antonieta Saa said, "On the surface, they’re selling coffee, but really they’re selling women’s bodies.” Further points where made that if a coffee shop, which can be seen as a family-friendly location, has it's waitresses dressing in barely anything, then what standard is that setting for other stores to follow in? It clearly shows the male dominated society of Chile. Yet more than 50% of Chile’s population is made up of women and this number is increasing.

There have been very few studies on the portrayal of women in Chilean advertising and no official studies on how females are represented in media. This limits the amount of solid information available but also implies that the larger culture not see it important to be aware of how its women are represented. If it has not done any investigation on how to improve the depiction of women through media then no real advancements can be made.

In the world of advertising, Chilean women are usually depicted as mothers or housewives where household products are usually marketed towards them. Men on the other hand are targeted for cars, technology, sports and the like. Research has been done to show that gender-defining roles within Chile were criticized as harshly as the sexualization of women in advertising. It is interesting that in both these forms of manipulating the women via advertising she is made into an object. Yet when it is to fit into societal norms it is more accepted than when a woman's body is changed to fit a physical standard.

Through television and movies, "content was showing progress in projecting an image of women in accordance with reality." Although Chile has insisted improvements in its depiction of women in daytime TV, many are not convinced and feel soap operas show women as "completely alienated beings, which creates false expectations and distorted value scales." The shows are also said to not emphasize so much the gender-defined roles of society, only to help define behavioral norms that develop character interaction.

The stubbornness of the country so recognize problems of objectification in its media limits capacity for change. The negative ways in which women are depicted in media is a worldwide problem. If a country will not address, research, and solve the problems in its media's depiction of women, positive attitudes of citizens and positive representations are not possible.