Beyond the Newspaper

Beyond the Newspaper

Real news stories are the best tell tale of the gender construction gap. Specific articles about the subject of
cancer presents an interesting perspective on gender portrayals in news. Clive Seale in the Journal of Sociology studied articles about cancer victims. In these stories there is a general gap in the way the two genders are portrayed in the face of cancer. (111) The focus when a story is about a woman is her ability to handle feelings and fight strongly using her emotions. Men, on the other hand are exposed as being put to a test of character and stamina. It is shown as a test for them, one that could only be overcome by disposition learned before tragedy struck. (121)

In an article in The Battle Creek Inquirer about Deb Cornell, a four-time breast cancer survivor, emotions play a key role from the beginning sentence. “Tears welled in Deb Cornell's eyes as she looked at a very special painting Wednesday (Willis).” The article goes on to explain how her emotions were overtaking and how her biggest feat was that she wasn’t scared into running away. Her key emotional support comes from her painting and support group of painters. She finds Courage in her paintings that help her express the way she feels. "I think people can be inspired to get through bad situations — doesn't matter if it's cancer or divorce — and learn to express themselves one way or the other,” The Director for art center in main support of several breast cancer surviving artists says. (Willis 1)
Read Deb Cornell's Story

On the other hand, Bob Ellal, a male four time cancer survivor explains how to defeat cancer in Clive Seal’s article in Sociology: “You owe it to yourself—and to the people in your life, whether they are your spouse, children,


parents or friends. You’re going to fight for survival” Bob understands cancer as a personal test, and will defeat it if he has enough will (Seale 1). This shows a huge difference in writing styles when talking about Men or Women in disease survival, but it is not a bad stereotype. Both articles equally convey the victim as coping with the disease in a way that works for them. The truth is that a male and a female would deal with such a situation differently and these differences should be taken into account As long as the two genders get coverage proportional to the amount of cases and stories, men and women can turn to the articles and get a clearer, more supportive idea of where to turn for help with their disease. More importantly the general public will be able to understand better if the truth is portrayed on how they are dealing with the diseases.

The stories are not necessarily news, but they do give good insight into the way that tragedy is expressed in many stories. Stories are directed toward a specific population and therefore have specific biases. For example, newspapers and financial journals are geared toward men, when homemaker and daytime news is directed toward a female audience. The same news story over the first and second part of the day can change based on at the target audience in the day versus the target audience in the nighttime which is men (Carther, Branston, and Allen 75). News companies are in the business of making money and as long as what they say is the truth they can leave whatever they want out. When these biases are present, again it is not necessarily a bad thing to have them present, just understand how the biases are affecting our point of view on the story and how we are shaping generalizations about other topics.

Apparently the cold weather in Sweden has been producing a considerable amount of articles about the onset of depression in males and females alike. News is reported differently for and about different genders in other countries too. Carita Bengs, Eva Johansson, Ulla Danielsson, Arja Lehti and Anne Hammarström’s study of the portrayal of


depression based on gender shows two differences in the way depression news stories are presented to the public, and received by the public. The portrayal of depressive women were more expressive, expressed a feeling of vulnerability rather than being attacked by depression, and was more emotional, whereas the depiction of men’s depression was considered more tragic and suddenly onset, and less expressive. Furthermore, stories about women were more common, contained more personal experiences and were therefore more thorough, and covered a wider spectrum in age. (970) These findings support gender stereotypes, even though the same condition should contain the same symptoms. The way men and women interpret them, however is the construction. For example, if the disease causes “feeling lost” this may be something very new to a man, whereas a woman may understand the feeling better. A woman would probably interpret this feeling differently, possibly as to fall like it was his fault that he was feeling lost, or maybe not even as a symptom at all. Men and women would therefore cope with the symptoms differently and there is a significant difference that should be reported. Women also responded to the symptoms differently than men, which would be a important fact to display about the women. Women were portrayed to care more about what other people think about them once they have these feelings. (Bengs et al. 970)

The last part of the study focused on how individuals explained the disease, women were found to express their emotions about it, whereas men tended to describe the biological factors that went into their depression, kind of like an excuse to be talking about their disease. They tended to not be able to accept that their feelings were being attacked. One article, however described how one woman felt the same way around her menstruation cycle, and was going to see a gynecologist for a long time. (970) These articles are important to note because they are examples of construction. The stories recognize the difference between men and women and support that difference through different explanations.
Read the Full Swedish Depression Article

People suffering from SAD (seasonal Depressive Disorder) feel depressed in the winter. Accounts of depression exhibit gender construction very clearly.

Works Cited

Bengs, Carita, Eva Johansson, Ulla Daniellson, Arja Lehti, and Anne Hammarstrom. "Gendered Portraits of Depression in Swedish Newspapers." Gendered Portraits of Depression in Swedish Newspapers 18 (2008): 962-74. Print.

Carter, Cynthia, Gill Branston, and Stuart Allen. "News, Gender, and Power." Google Books. Web. 25 Oct. 2010.<>.

"Cute Emo Sad Cartoon Hug Pictures, Cute Emo Sad Cartoon Hug Images, Cute Emo Sad Cartoon Hug Photos, Cute Emo Sad Cartoon Hug Videos - Image." TinyPic - Free Image Hosting, Photo Sharing & Video Hosting. Web. 02 Dec. 2010. <>.

Ellal, Bob. "Tips from a Four-Time Cancer Survivor." Bob Ellal - The Chronicles of a Four-Time Cancer Survivor | Bob Ellal. 2010. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. <>.

Willis, Elizabeth. "Artists Interpret Cancer Survivors' Stories." The Battle Creek Enquierer. 31r Oct. 2010. Web. 7 Nov. 2010.

Seale, Clive. "Cancer Heroics: A Study of News Reports with Particular Reference to Gender." Sociology 36.107 (2002): 107-126. Print.