This research plan originated from a course focusing on research design proposals in political science. This proposal will summarize the existing information and find room for discovery and additional development of the dialogue surrounding women’s rights worldwide, specifically using Saudi Arabia as a focal lens. It will focus on the effect of the American media’s influence on Saudi Arabian people, and their consequent disposition towards gender equality. It draws upon data collected from numerous publications reporting on perception of America media and any changes that Saudis may have in opinion regarding women’s contributions and place in society.
Modernization has come with various aspects to mark the development of the quality of living of human beings. However, from ancient days, the characteristics of the global society have been marked gender discrimination. The issue of gender inequalities in the global society has been a major concern since the ancient days. Despite other societies such as the western society characterized with giving a woman a chance, there are others that completely lag behind in the race to grant freedom and recognize the rights of women as they deserve. The Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia is a perfect example on this concern. Various aspects of publications that raise this issue to the global front have succeeded in other environments except Saudi Arabia. Such aspects include the role of media that enlightens the society and has always been a vital factor of modernization.
Saudi Arabia is governed by a completely monarchy type of administration that initiates and focuses on the Islamic Sharia laws. The system of education is commonly characterized with gender segregation from the elementary to high levels of education. However, this does not the present the country’s history. It only began in between 1980 – 1990’s regimes. This was when the Saudi Arabian authorities began enforcing Islamic laws into a higher extent. In accordance to the teachings of Prophet Mohammed, authorities adopted strong measures to instill public order and respect. However, this take seemed to favor one gender –male and molest the other. Apart from the dressing code, females were not allowed by any chance to interact freely with males who are regarded as superior to them by default. Right from early ages female children and students are grouped together to learn in a different environment and taught feminist roles. Similar action is taken on the male students who are also grouped together and taught about the society’s values of an ideal man.
The sequence of keeping distance between males and females in accompanied with harsh fines and penalties upon breach of this law. Interestingly, females still are on the receiving end and are the common victims in the Saudi society. In a quest to liberate them from this situation, the current regime under the stewardship of Kind Abdullah has put effort to instill the perception of recognizing the rights of women in the society. This has been made possible through the western media influence in the country. Ultimately, the initiative took a great turn since the September 11 twin towers terrorist attack of the United States. The US began actions to revolutionize the Middle East’s order, discouraging the use of strict Islamic laws which were a planning tool of radical Saudi Arabian Islamic clerics. The United States’ media took a great role in this initiative. However, its reception in the Saudi society has been indifferent. This is because the local people have the feeling that their severity, Islamic culture and religion are compromised.
Therefore, instead of the US media coming to rescue and break the hoodoo of gender and gender role in the Saudi society, it has arguable worsen the situation. Males, especially the religious police and political elite in the country have continued to resist the influence of western media. And this time, the woman position is more threatened than before. These efforts are only geared to show the west that Saudi Arabia has her culture and way of life and nobody is able to interfere. It research focuses on the effect of the American media’s influence on Saudi Arabian people, and their consequent disposition towards gender equality. It draws upon data collected from numerous publications reporting on perception of America media and any changes that Saudis may have in the opinion regarding women’s contributions and place in society.
Statement of the problem
As it stands in any other modern society today, media has carried a great role to enlighten people about their rights. In this manner, the people perceptions of gender roles have changed for the better, specifically among countries with great Western influence. People have begun seeing the importance of giving women freedom and space and rights just like men do enjoy. Evidently, the societies that have adopted the culture of recognizing women have benefited in countless dimensions. Form the family unit to status positions in established organizations; women have been an instrumental part in the major developments. The society feels secure when a woman effort gets the recognition they deserve. A society of equal opportunities and honor and respect to human rights has been a major call that media have preached. Ultimately, the bored fruits are desirable.
Surprisingly, the situation on the Saudi society is an exception and completely different. The space and role of a woman still have not seen an expected improvement as many could suggest. This is not to mean that Islamic societies do not progress or respond accordingly with the pace of modernization. It suggests of something of a bigger concern that needs to be addressed. This is because media have worked magic in other nations. This research paper will try to establish the reason behind the failure of the media in revolutionize better perceptions of gender roles in Saudi Arabia. In this concern, the research question is: Does exposure to media change people’s view of gender roles in Saudi Arabia? We will conduct an ethnographic survey asking about Saudi’s exposure to media and their current political and social views related to women.
Purpose of the study
The main purpose of this research is to establish the western media influence on gender roles in the Saudi society. As mentioned above, the course of western media influence in the Middle East was facilitated by the terror attacks booming of the US twin towers in September 11th 1997. Since then, the World’s focus on terrorism has built a particular interest to Arab atmosphere. The Eastern culture and especially the Saudi culture have come openly reflected to the attention of the global society. This has enabled the West and the world at large to see the harsh gender practices among the people in the Saudi society.
The extent of change that the western media has installed to the Saudi community could be viewed in two ways. The first is the positive measure of initiating change to the perceptions of gender roles to the Saudis. Specifically, this positivity entails ideological change of the position of a Saudi Arabian woman in both the Saudi society and the world at large. Secondly, the western media influence to the Saudi atmosphere could have an adverse effect. Since it is a sought of disturbance to the claim of order in accordance to Islam, the response is that Saudis object and protest publicly about this interference. The result is that, the Saudi woman becomes more oppressed and discriminated than before.
Media influences the perceptions of gender responsibilities in Saudi Arabia. It is no doubt that woman in Saudi Arabia face inequalities in their day to day activities. Important to note, however, is the fact that much of the information communicated by the media is based on unreliable sources. Different people from different parts of the world always have their perceptions to what inequality is. There has been an increase in the opportunities for women in Saudi, majorly due to the development of the Saudi Arabia kingdom. Such opportunities have been experienced in the fields of employment, education and political participation. In this light, it is noteworthy that the more exposure of Saudi Arabian citizens to women in the American media, the more liberal they are towards women in regards to the gender issues (Kraidy). Paul Cochrane notes that the aspect of broadening Saudi Arabia’s sphere of influence in the media is beginning to yield fruits. Notably, Saudi Arabia has been identified as a nation that has dominated over the media from news coverage to entertainment. Nonetheless, as the media in this nation portrays the predicament of women in American media, people have begun changing their views on gender roles. Media has helped in showcasing their plight and suffering. According to Max Fisher, women in Saudi Arabia have endured prolonged suffering, but their new rights of voting have illustrated their capacity to effect change. This, in turn, can motivate other women from different parts of the world to fight for their rights as far as attaining equality is concerned.
Islamic principles on gender equality played a crucial role in determining the manner that women are treated in Saudi Arabia. Islam is widely known for promoting human brotherhood, and in extension, equality of humans. According to the Quran, all human beings belong to one man and one woman (in relation to Adam and Eve). This means that human beings share the same lineage. By holding that all human beings, whether male or female, have the same origin, the Quran stipulates that they ought to have equal rights and be treated equally. Public interpretation of the Quran in the media has played a significant role in exposing the kind of relations that exist between males and females in the Saudi society. In almost all sectors in Saudi, opportunities are equally shared among the genders without any form of discrimination as to the gender that one belongs to.
The pursuit of authenticity is an attitude that is epitomized by the Western culture. Debates and arguments on the superiority of genders is likely to maintain the status quo in which one gender will be perceived as being superior to the other. Such debates have a negative influence to the manner that certain genders in the society are perceived. The media has also played a significant role in spreading the perceptions that are created by the society. Television, mobile telephones equipped with cameras and televisions have seen the revolution of national identity, media policy, and role of women in Saudi Arabia (Kraidy). In the late 1960s and 1970s, the wave of feminist thinking, creativity, and activism was confronted by a challenge of a world dominated by media (Gill 7). This undermined the feminist movement by exposing the challenges they were facing at the time.
Lack of support from the media and other community-based organizations make it difficult for any feminist movement to prosper. A global focus has helped to shift the paradigm of media. This is because it involves a “call to acknowledge differences”, to hear out other people’s opinions, and to remain keen towards authorities and resistance (Gill 29). By acknowledging the differences that exist between individuals from different genders, it would be easy for people to develop some form of respect to other people. By understanding their weaknesses, necessary steps will be taken in order to ensure there is respect among the members of the different genders. By and large, the effect of feminist criticism in Third World Countries such as Saudi Arabia has involved laying emphasis on the profound interrelationships between gender, class, race, and other elements of oppression.
Questions and Hypothesis
In carrying out the survey, interviews and questionnaires will be of great use. The questions aim to receive relevant information about gender disparities and the role that media plays in Saudi Arabia in reinforcing gender stereotypes. An abstract of the questionnaire may take the following format and questions:
- Are you
- What do you consider yourself to be?
- Somewhere in the middle
- What role do the media play in reinforcing gender stereotypes?
- Do you believe that the society’s perceptions of gender are affected by the media?
- Yes/ No
- Would you be comfortable having female boss?
- When it comes to careers men are superior to women
- Strongly agree
- Agree to a certain extent
- Strongly disagree
- What type of programs do you watch?
- If American: dose that changes your attitude towards female in your personal life?
- Do you believe that the media accurately portrays women’s role in society?
- Which class do you Identify yourself
- Do you feel superior to your opposing gender
- What kind of degree you have?
In order to determine whether the exposure to media of the women in Saudi changes the views of the citizens on gender roles, it is important to carry out a survey of around 5000 Saudi citizens from different regions
Mainly, this survey will make samples of up to 5000 Saudi citizens from different regions. Demographic factors will be taken into account in choosing the interviewees. In making the samples, one key element that will be followed is the age that one falls in, which will be between 20 years and 4o years. Random selection of both married and single participants will be interviewed. As a result, we will have 25 per cent of the interviewees being married men, 25 percent being single men, 25 percent married women and 25 percent single women. Random phone surveys will be carried out in order to reach people from different walks of life. Income will represent the invariable. We will ask the sample to answer the questions above in order to determine their take on the role that the media plays. However, the interviewee will be restricted in choosing an answer outside the options given.
Scales and surveys will be important instruments to use in the research. After collecting the relevant information from the interviewees, it will be very important to analyze it and interpret what it represents. This may be achieved by using scales and grids to compare which group agrees with a specific hypothesis and which one differs. Pie charts will also be employed to some extent in representing the findings of the research.
This research will rely on one on one interview with the selected samples. They will be requested to fill the questionnaires in order to give us the necessary information. On other occasions, phone calls will be used to reach the samples that are far.
Data analysis will mostly take the form of comparisons of the information received from the interviewees. Through developing pie charts to represent the percentage of a group’s thoughts on a particular issue, the information collected will be expressed in a manner that is easy to understand.
Limitations and Delimitations
One of the weaknesses of carrying out a research using the questionnaire method is the inconsistency it provides. In most cases, there is no guarantee that the interviewees will give correct information to the questions asked. When this is the case, the researcher may end up analyzing the data using unreliable information.
In order to achieve more accurate results, only mature people, that is, between 20 years and 40 years will be involved. This is because of their better decision making when compared to those outside the age bracket. Although face to face interviews are crucial in any research, they will not be greatly used because of their time-consuming nature. It is important to note that some categories of people, such as prisoners and prostitutes will not be interviewed. This is so in order to boost the chances of collecting more reliable information.
Significance of the study
The research intends to review the existing information on the role that the media plays and analyze the extent to which the information is consistent with the real practice. Important to note is the fact that the research will include the emerging trends in the field of gender equality and what role the media has played in exposing the inequalities. By incorporating the emerging trends, the research will outline a different perspective on how the society construes gender issues in the modern times. Much of the existing information is based on research that was carried out a long time ago, giving inaccurate information as to what the real facts on the ground are. Because of this, the research will give the real position of what the position is.
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