The Continued Imbalance of the Portrayal of Women in Politics

Although society is constantly evolving and becoming more feminist, the portrayal of women in politics continues to be imbalanced. The media plays an integral role in the public’s perception of women in power. A major challenge for women is to be judged for their policies rather than their appearance. Gendered conventions are reflected in the media and there are many different expectations a woman should “abide by” when holding a position of authority. Although women are now able to apply for these positions, their credibility continues to be challenged. 

There are countless examples of women being diminished and judged for their appearance while they are simply trying to do their jobs. One major instance which circulated social media for many months was Labour MP Tracy Brabin. Due to her outfit, where her dress fell off one of her shoulders, her ability to do her job and behaviour were questioned, being destroyed by millions of hate comments some stating that “she should be sacked as an MP” and that “she looks like a slag.” 

World politics has been gradually feminizing over the past century; nevertheless, the way gender norms are ingrained into our society stays the same. Children from a young age are often exposed to gender norms in school, activities, etc. Therefore, women and men remain categorized according to their sexual roles; women have “communal” behaviours suggesting they are more likely to adhere to the community, whilst men have so-called “self-determination” or “individualistic” behaviours. This style is described as agentic and is attributed to men, appearing normal and acceptable in society. However, when women try to display these characteristics (e.g assertiveness, tenacity, aggressiveness and competitiveness), they frustrate the public as they do not fit the stereotypical definition that has been devolved to them. Men and the symbol of masculinity have historically shaped leadership. Therefore, the masculine traits associated with an efficient leader become the standards that women are held to when deciding on their ability to complete tasks.

There are glimmers of hope as we move forward in 2021, with more women than ever before running for positions of power. For example, Kamala Harris’ recent appointment as the first female U.S. vice-president and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress come to mind.  Nonetheless, we need to work together to make sure women in politics are viewed as equal. The way the press hypersexualises and potrays women in power appears to stay the same despite their collaborative attitude to support feminist movements such as MeToo. The sheer difference in the media’s treatment of women and men in heightened positions demonstrates how misogyny is still very prevalent in our society.

Gender parity leads to collaboration and a blending of visions, paving the way for the adoption of more comprehensive and inclusive solutions than if they’re conceived from only one perspective (a man’s!). This needs to be achieved especially in the political sector to improve the livelihood of entire countries.

-Madalena Morris

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