Lashes of Inspiration – The Times

Date: October 1, 2010
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Male sports presenters need to beware. Their job security will be on the line if 27-year-old Mabasotho Lenko has anything to do with it. Lenko is determined to become South Africa’s premier sports presenter. Currently on Weekend Live, she gives viewers a lively update on the week’s fouls, red cards and goals scored. Becoming a sports presenter was completely accidental, she says. She studied marketing at the IMM Graduate School of Marketing.

This article may be used to:
1. Depict the masculine nature of sports presenting on t.v.
2. As an example of an article which trivialises women’s achievements.
3. Sexist nature of the broadcast industry

The headline ‘Lashes of inspiration’ does not do justice to the lady’s determination and will to do her job and do it well. It insinuates that the motivation behind her choice of job is to show off her lashes as opposed to the job itself. One whether the story would have had the same title had she been an off the scene presenter.

Story angle/ Perspective
The article is supposed to be about a woman who makes it in a male dominated industry of sports presenting, looking at the first few lines of the article one is prepared for an article about Lenko making a success of herself in a male-dominated industry, however in reality the article is about her love for beauty in the form of eye lashes.

It is not clear why the article is almost apologetic by stating that her femininity has not been compromised by working in a male-dominated industry. The question then becomes: Why should it be? This creates an impression that women in male-dominated jobs must compromise themselves and that which is feminine in order to “fit in”. Such thinking reinforces “boys club” theory. It should be enough that a woman is good at what she does and the “good” should not be determined by looks but by merit.

The article pays meticulous detail when she talks about beauty tips as opposed to her job, which should be the essence of the discussion. It gives a blow-by-blow account of the different eye lashes at the expense of details about her job.

Though the source is extensively quoted in the story, she is not the author, which makes it possible that some of the information might have been used out of context or selectively. Judging from the name of the author it is difficult to know their sex.

The caption reads ‘de lashius’ creating an impression that the character in the story is defined by her lashes. Moreover, the language has sensual connotations and hinges on sexualising the source.

Though the language largely takes away from her achievements, later in the article she is described as a sports “fundi” which is noteworthy because the writer acknowledges her achievements.

Visual images
Visuals of different range of lashes accompany the article. Not even a single image of sports-related memorabilia is shown .The use of an article purporting to be sports-oriented to sell beauty products is not only misleading but brings to the core issues of using prominent women to sell products . The presenter’s face is shown against a dark background and only her lashes visibly prominent. Such imagery conveys that there is nothing to see about the woman except her face thus limiting her capabilities to lashes.

The article is located towards the back of the paper; in the sports section. Ordinarily, there is nothing improper about this since the article was supposed to have been about sport after all, however since this article harps on about beauty and neglects her sporting achievements, this becomes a problem. Dedicating an article about the beauty of a woman in the sports section of the news, which normally has more male readers, seems to be portraying this presenter as a token for male pleasure.

Training exercises
– Discuss the portrayal of women in the media
– Conduct a media monitoring exercise focusing particularly on the portrayal of women in the media
– Discuss ways of engendering the media


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