Towards a Transformative” Image of Arab Women in Anti-Violence Adverts: Semiotics Analysis of Arab Social Media Adverts

© Media Watch 10 (3) 586-596, 2019
ISSN 0976-0911 E-ISSN 2249-8818
DOI: 10.15655/mw/2019/v10i3/49697

Towards a Transformative” Image of Arab Women in Anti-Violence Adverts: Semiotics Analysis of Arab Social Media Adverts

Layla AlSaqer
University of Bahrain, Bahrain


This paper aims to provide an in-depth investigation of the role of social media images in conveying the meaning of “power” and “empowerment” in public anti-violence campaigns that aim to empower women in the Middle East. The research raises three qualitative questions of the way anti-violence adverts have represented Arab women in the social media; the way Arab societal culture affects the image of women represented in the adverts; and the extent to which these social adverts have empowered women to transfer their realities against domestic violence. The researcher uses a purposeful sample of six social campaigns that addressed women violence organized by six non-profit and governmental entities in different Arab countries in the period between 2013 and 2018. The paper used the theoretical framework offered by Cohen-Eliya and Hammer (2004) to analyze the extent to which these social media adverts have “empowered” women against domestic violence. The input of this framework is that it studies how visual adverts have constructed relationships of power regarding the stereotypes of women in the Middle East. The paper finds that although these social media adverts aim to fight domestic violence, they enhance traditional stereotype of weak women and fall short of addressing the concept of “empowerment” through focusing on stereotypical images of powerless women. The paper highlights the need for new social media communication that would utilize the opportunities provided by social media to establish a new “transformative” image of the Arab woman about her cultural context. Moreover, the paper suggests that the concept of “empowerment” should be addressed at both individual and cultural levels through cooperating with governmental and non-profit organizations using social media communication to provide women with access to resources.
Keywords:          Social media, violence against women, public communication, empowerment, stereotypical, transformative images

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Layla AlSaqer (Ph.D., University of Stirling, UK, 2007)  is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mass Communication, Tourism & Arts at the College of Arts, University of Bahrain. Her research interests include public relations education and practice, social marketing and cultural studies.