Why Women Centered Media Is Important

One of my favourite quotes on the importance of women’s voices and narratives is by bell hooks, the late African American writer and feminist theorist.

It goes: “No black woman writer in this culture can write “too much”. Indeed, no woman writer can write “too much”…No woman has ever written enough.”

That quote serves as a reminder that women must own our voices and consistently speak truth to power.

Even though I’m not African American, the truth is that most societies including my country Nigeria are structured around the comforts and most importantly the ability of men to give their opinions as they please.

In music, in art, in film, in journalism and writing…In any place where the opinions that form the cultural backbone of any society, one finds that men saturate it and dominate it with what and how they think women should act.

What then does this mean for women as a group? It means that young girls will grow up watching movies and music videos that degrade the female experience. It means that young boys will grow up with an inflated sense of self because after all, everywhere they turn, there is a man preaching that a virtuous and good woman is a silent woman. 

The boys will grow up believing that to be male means an ability to aim as high as presidents and the girls will believe that to be female is to work “behind the scenes” but be comfortable receiving no credit for the work done.

This is where women centered media comes in. Women centered media is media that seeks to promote and amplify the interests of women. This is such that women and issued peculiar to women are discussed, opportunities are shared and women have a safe space to see themselves as human in books, films and all forms of media.

Women centered media is imperative particularly in the fields of reproductive and sexual health education. 

A young girl who watches a series on teen pregnancy and safe sex will be more empowered to make responsible choices than a girl who watches a movie that blames a “wayward” girl for dying in an abortion while conveniently forgetting that married women also seek abortions.

In the areas of books and literary media, women authors are also very important as they highlight women’s issues that may be swept under the carpet. Women authors who write on things like postpartum depression and the side effects of pregnancy enable women to be knowledgeable enough to know what pregnancy truly entails and if it is something they want to take on.

The speaking up of women who are musicians about the achievements of women, beauty standards and even how to move on from heartbreak, can be what encourages a young girl to not think her life is over because her boyfriend of five years left her. One song or advice from a feminist Youtuber can be what encourages her to go back to school, start a business and love herself no matter what.

Speaking with Tobby Rhodes, a presenter and host, she says that women centered media and women sharing their stories have formed her into the woman she is.

In her words: “Watching other women share their stories and experiences made me feel seen… especially exposed women. 

While society has designed a woman’s reality, reactions and experiences, I learned to discard society’s expectations of me and own my life’s choices.

Women like Oprah, Tyra Banks, Mo Abudu, Chimamanda, JK Rowling, Sheryl Sandberg, Nike Okundaye, Taiwo Ajayi Lycett… inspired me as a child to create any life I want. 

I can be anything I choose to be. My opinion matters and I am the master of my fate.

We need more women in media sharing stories that matter.”

For Ezinne, she insists that women media should center women’s experiences truly.

To quote her: “I watched a tiktok about this theme recently. It centred around the Bechdel test.

The conditions to pass the test : 1) has two (named) women, who 2) talk to each other about 3) something other than a man.

Even though this test was out in 1985, many modern shows still fail it. 

Including ones that you think have to pass! Like Lara Crofts Tomb raider and Proud Mary where Taraji P. Henson was the main character. 

I researched other tests as well. The Villarreal test plays right into this. Here it checks whether the female lead is NOT introduced as one of three common stereotypes in her first scene: as sexualized; as hardened, expressionless or soulless; or as a matriarch (tired, older or overworked). 

It’s so crazy how male centeredness has managed to seep and creep into EVERYTHINGGGG.”

The true mark of progress for women would be when women’s experiences move from being “women’s issues” to “human issues”.

To get to that point, more (feminist) women must own their voices and constantly speak their truth.

By doing so, there shall be the normalisation of feminist and pro women values especially for young women watching.

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