Synthesis Essay Example on The Power of Images in Stereotyping: The Case of Instagram

This synthesis essay example talks about the advent of social media and how it revolutionizes people’s communication. In particular, social sites that allow the use of images like Instagram have become popular because of the power that images have in arousing emotions. Despite this positive impact, evidence shows social media platforms are increasingly becoming conveyors of problematic and prejudicial themes. In this case, a textual analysis of Instagram pages shows that the use of images in this social media platform promotes the prejudicial theme of submissive female college students. Also, male college students use the capabilities of commenting, editing, and sharing to position their female counterparts as sexual objects rather than colleagues. In turn, male Instagram users post and share photos in the Four Year Party and College Nationwide to stereotype women as submissive to men. While women may use the images to self-construct and locate and emphasize their identities, sexuality, and gender, males use them to degrade and objectify women.

Example of a Synthesis Essay Outline

Topic: The Power of Images in Stereotyping: The Case of Instagram

Synthesis essay example

I. Sample Synthesis Essay Introduction

Since the dawn of social media networks, human interaction has gone a notch higher. Being a significant positive development, it also comes with drawbacks, such as the invasion of personal privacy. Although engagement via social media is satisfying because of the use of visual content, such an engagement has also become grounds for negative behavior. In turn, a textual analysis of Instagram pages in this synthesis essay example confirms that the use of images in this social media platform promotes the theme of submissive female college students (thesis statement).

II. Sample of Body Paragraphs in a Synthesis Essay Example

A. The Power of Instagram

Generally, images create far greater emotions than words alone can ever arouse, and this is why Instagram has become phenomenal. For instance, research has established that the Instagram user base doubled between 2015 and 2017, with those aged between 18 and 24 making 71 percent of the active user population (Smith & Anderson, 2018). Unlike other content like texts, pictures do arouse emotions, and it is this power that makes Instagram users vulnerable to confirmation bias. Moreover, the preoccupation that college-going females have with their bodies is the reason that makes their photos easily accessible on Instagram and the reason why they are increasingly becoming vulnerable to stereotypes.

B. Gender Stereotyping in Instagram

The statistic showing that active Instagram users are, in most cases, college-aged individuals indicate the prevalence of college-affiliated Instagram accounts and the risk of consumer bias as far as content is concerned. For instance, two of these accounts are the Four Year Party and College Nationwide, which allows sharing photos and short videos among tens of thousands of young people daily (Davis, 2018). Basically, one must wonder what kind of influence these pages have on all those followers, given that most seek to understand their identity, sexuality, and gender. In short, the vast number of young people actively engaged in Instagram means that many use images to shape their and others’ identities.

Unlike males, females are more prone to be victims of consumer bias on Instagram and other social media sites. For example, Blower (2016) suggests that engagement via social media affects how individuals self-identify and self-construct about gender, especially among female users. When male users see images of women on the online platform, their natural reaction is to see those women as sex objects. Indeed, this aspect discussed in this synthesis essay example explains the taglines of both the Four Year Party and College Nationwide Instagram pages.

The major problematic theme that emerges from the analysis of the Four Year Party and College Nationwide Instagram pages is the idea that women are submissive to men. Basically, this theme is an example of how social media is becoming a platform for constructive engagement and assault (Ephraim, 2013). On the subject of gender equality, they show that females in these two Instagram pages are submissive to males. Moreover, the risk is that these experiences are not isolated moments of adolescent behavior. In turn, they predict societal norms that emphasize women’s submission to men.

One area of prejudice that Instagram promotes against women is to position them as victims of male violence. Traditionally, male aggression denotes and justifies dominant male behavior and physical strength over women in society (Smuts, 1992). While female college students may post images on Instagram to reinforce their identity, sexuality, and gender, their male counterparts use them to treat them as sexual objects. Basically, this perception in this synthesis essay example facilitates problematic male behavior, specifically male dominance over females that manifests through aggression and objectification.

C. Counterargument and Rebuttal of a Sythesis Essay Example

Although evidence showing Instagram images prejudices women by constructing them as submissive to men, it is essential to note that the same images help women to construct and emphasize their gender identity. Unlike traditional media that positioned users as solely consumers, Instagram, and other social media platforms give users a sense of power by becoming content creators (Dobson, 2015). Rather than the feeling objectified and stereotyped by the captions that males use in pictures posted in the Four Year Party and College Nationwide, female users should use the platform to self-construct gendered and sexual identities. In short, the platform can serve as a unique site for female resistance against the themes of male dominance over the female that is increasingly gaining relevance in social media.

However, one must recognize that self-construction of identity in social media is complicated. Ringrose and Barajas (2011) describe social media platforms as “gendered and sexualized risk and opportunity,” which indicates this complexity (p. 122). Basically, the solution is for women to focus on shaping their self-identities through constructive engagement and not dwell on what men do with their (female) images posted and shared on social media sites. In turn, such an engagement includes creating cultural content that celebrates females and their bodies, such as fashion, fitness, and adventure by considering this synthesis essay example.

III. Sample Conclusion in a Sythesis Essay

The emergence of social media platforms has revolutionized human communication and interaction. To a greater extent, these platforms have created positive outcomes, enabling people to use images in their interactions. Basically, this synthesis essay example shows that the use of images on Instagram promotes the prejudicial theme of submissive female college students. In this case, both the Four Year Party and College Nationwide serve as platforms where male college students reinforce their dominance over their female counterparts by using photos and short videos. While males see this habit as a form of male bonding and a statement of masculinity, the truth is that it dents the self-image of young women who are trying to locate their identity, sexuality, and gender.

Example of a Synthesis Essay on The Power of Images in Stereotyping: The Case of Instagram

Since the dawn of social media networks, human interaction has gone a notch higher. While this aspect is a significant positive development, it also comes with drawbacks, such as the invasion of personal privacy. Basically, the major social media services, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, provide tools that enable sharing of photos and videos. More importantly, they have built-in functionalities that allow people to react to their or others’ photos and videos. While these tools are the basis for the advantages that these social sites have over the traditional means of communication, they also facilitate negative behavior. Although engagement via social media is satisfying because of the use of visual content, such an engagement has also become grounds for negative behavior. With time, social media use has transformed from a means of communication to become a platform for advancing stereotypes.

In particular, Instagram, which is built to be a photo and video gallery, is increasingly becoming a platform for stereotyping. Basically, people have begun to realize that social media can influence how one views their identity, sexuality, and gender. Indeed, this is why so many people, particularly college students, have Instagram pages that they use to post their photos. In this case, the reactions they get from friends and fans go along way in helping them construct perceptions of themselves. However, it becomes evident that these kinds of engagements are advancing problematic themes. In turn, a textual analysis of Instagram pages in this synthesis essay example confirms that the use of images in this social media platform promotes the theme of submissive female college students.

Body A in a Synthesis Essay Example: The Power of Instagram

Generally, images create far greater emotions than words alone can ever arouse, and this is why Instagram has become phenomenal. Basically, this free application for mobile devices allows users to upload, edit, and share content (pictures and short videos) with other Instagram users. For example, since its launch on October 6, 2010, the app has gained popularity, boasting over 800 million active users, who post and share approximately 80 million pictures per day (Davis, 2018). In this case, the platform provides people with an excellent place for interacting through images. Also, the downside is that it is a place where individuals with ill intentions can advance their agendas.

Instagram as a Photo Gallery

Today, young people are the most active users of social media platforms. For instance, research has established that the Instagram user base doubled between 2015 and 2017, with those aged between 18 and 24 making 71 percent of the active user population (Smith & Anderson, 2018). Basically, this data suggests that people affected by the problematic themes advanced via the platform are those still struggling to figure out their identities. Unlike other content like texts, pictures do arouse emotions, and it is this power that makes Instagram users vulnerable to confirmation bias. While photos and short videos capture moments, they are never comprehensive enough (Giannoulakis & Tsapatsoulis, 2016). Hence, those who react to the posted content never understand the full context of posts. As such, those who react to them via likes and comments only do so within the boundary of their biases.

Instagram Images as Vehicles of Stereotyping

The condition of women improved remarkably in the last century, thanks to the feminist movement. However, the literature on gender indicates the prevalence of stereotypes against women in the age of technology (Henry & Powell, 2015). Basically, social media is increasingly becoming the grounds upon which males are advancing traditional stereotypes that victimize women. For example, these stereotypes promote gender discrimination and a hierarchical difference in status inequality between men and women (Ridgeway & Correll, 2004). Even as the grounds upon which these negatives continue to be dynamic, Instagram is a powerful tool for stereotyping the young female, covering this synthesis essay example. In turn, the preoccupation that college-going females have with their bodies is the reason that makes their photos easily accessible on Instagram and the reason why they are increasingly becoming vulnerable to stereotypes.

Body B: Gender Stereotyping in Instagram

The statistic showing that active Instagram users are, in most cases, college-aged individuals indicate the prevalence of college-affiliated Instagram accounts and the risk of consumer bias as far as content is concerned. For instance, two of these accounts are the Four Year Party and College Nationwide, which allows sharing photos and short videos among tens of thousands of young people daily (Davis, 2018). Basically, these sharings instigate a lot of reactions in the form of likes, comments, and shares. In this case, it is now apparent that these two Instagram pages serve as grounds for the promotion of problematic and prejudicial themes. To a greater extent, they reinforce the racialized and gendered inequalities that characterize the American culture.

Collegiate Communities in Instagram

Instagram is an app that allows people to create individual and group pages for purposes of posting and sharing pictures and short videos. Since evidence shows that the majority of Instagram users are the youth, it means that many of the photos and short videos posted and shared on the platform target the same demographic population. For example, with over 103,000 followers, the Four Year Party’s tagline states that users do not engage for college credits but fun, while College Nationwide, with over 125,000 followers, invites users to experiences humor and campus shenanigans (Davis, 2018). Basically, such a broad reach of a specific demographic is not only phenomenal but also concerning. In turn, one must wonder what kind of influence these pages have on all those followers, given that most seek to understand their identity, sexuality, and gender to cover the theme is this synthesis essay example.

Self-Identification and Self-Construction

The vast number of young people actively engaged in Instagram means that many use images to shape their and others’ identities. Unlike males, females are more prone to be victims of consumer bias on Instagram and other social media sites. For instance, Blower (2016) suggests that engagement via social media affects how individuals self-identify and self-construct about gender, especially among female users. Basically, it means that social media can affect human behavior. Also, another research suggests that one of the platforms shaping women’s perceptions of themselves is the discourse on the subject of sexuality that thrives on social media (Ashcraft, 2015; Garcia-Gómez, 2017). Concerning Instagram, the possibility to post pictures and short videos, most of which pronounce women’s sexual appeal, facilitates conversations on the subject of sex and sexuality. In turn, these experiences have the possibility of shaping young females’ gender construction. Although these conversations thrive in an online or virtual environment, the consequences of engaging in them manifest in the real world.

Risks of Instagram Addiction

With young people spending much of their time online, the possibility of becoming addicted to digital gadgets and virtual environments is high. For instance, evidence shows that social media use prompts psychological and physical effects on users (Baker, Krieger, & LeRoy, 2016; Fardouly, Willburger, & Vartanian, 2017). Basically, one can argue in this synthesis essay example that these effects are linked to the messages users are exposed to regarding their personality. In this case, it is more likely that, after students post a picture of themselves on their Instagram page, they expect others to show love and affection. However, when young people encounter hostile responses, they are more likely to become depressed and even suicidal. When male users see these pictures on the online platform, their natural reaction is to see those women as sex objects. Therefore, this dependence explains the prevalence of comments and captions that seem to promote and celebrate male aggression and dominance concerning women.

Abuse of Women on Instagram

The major problematic theme that emerges from the analysis of the Four Year Party and College Nationwide Instagram pages is the idea that women are submissive to men. Basically, the pages construct female college students as secondary and submissive to their male counterparts. In turn, this theme is an example of how social media is becoming a platform for constructive engagement and assault (Ephraim, 2013). Then, a majority of posts in the Four Year Party and College Nationwide pages exemplify women as male aggression victims, celebrated as masculinity. In this case, the pages have several photos of young men playing with young women’s breasts and slapping their buttocks. Moreover, such photos have accompanying captions that celebrate men who seem to use their positions to exploit unsuspecting females, especially sexually. Hence, these kinds of content objectify the young females, where the males, rather than seeing them as colleagues, see them as ‘playthings.’

Women as Submissive to Men

Ultimately, the message that engagements in the Four Year Party and College Nationwide Instagram pages pass across is that women are submissive to men, and men have a right over their (female) bodies. For example, there are also slow-motion short videos that depict men smacking the buttocks of bikini-clad women, indicating that these men have a right over the women’s body (Davis, 2018). Basically, such videos have captions that indicate their right to enjoy women and their bodies without having to ask permission from anyone. In turn, some photos show women dressed only in a bra and panties, with captions that seem to invite men to indulge (Davis, 2018). Also, these images show females serve only one purpose: to satisfy the wild imaginations of men. Hence, the risk is that these experiences are not isolated moments of adolescent behavior. Moreover, they predict societal norms that emphasize women’s submission to men, covering this synthesis essay example.

Male Aggression

One problematic theme that Instagram promotes against women is to position them as victims of male violence. In this case, both the Four Year Party and College Nationwide pages have pictures and videos that celebrate male aggression toward women. Traditionally, male aggression denotes and justifies dominant male behavior and physical strength over women in society (Smuts, 1992). Basically, the two pages also highlight and encourage sexual aggression with short videos, showing that men take sexual advantage of intoxicated women. Then, many of these videos capture scenes in crowded outdoor parties and indoor parties in private residences (Davis, 2018). Also, these images reinforce the theme of women’s submission based on the accompanying captions. In turn, these messages place women in subordinate roles to men and indicate that these collegiate virtual communities celebrate male bonding, the dominant role of men, and the blatant disregard for women.

Male Dominance

Besides the content that promotes male aggression towards females, some Instagram posts emphasize males’ dominance over females. For instance, the hashtag #SaturdaysArefortheBoys trends in thousands of Instagram posts and, together with others like #CocksOnTop, reinforce the idea of females’ submission to males (Davis, 2018). In essence, the male bonding exhibited via the hashtags shows that males use female images as symbols of sexual pleasure and male dominance over females. Then, some photos in the Four Year Party and College Nationwide show college students drinking, partying, and laughing with captions that state it is alright to take advantage of asleep or intoxicated females (Davis, 2018). Moreover, these posts show that men are only concerned with sex, indicating the female body’s objectification. In turn, the concerning thing about these posts in this synthesis essay example is that, while the photos emphasize the female body’s features, the captions objectify these bodies.

Body C: Counterargument and Rebuttal in a Synthesis Essay Example

Even though the captions that males use in Instagram images stereotype women as submissive to men, the photos and short videos also empower women. Unlike traditional media that positioned users as solely consumers, Instagram, and other social media platforms give users a sense of power by becoming content creators (Dobson, 2015). Basically, women are using social media to create and distribute their self-representations to their peers and the general public. Moreover, a study of over 40 women Instagram users revealed that they use the platform to reinstate their visibility and challenge the notion that public displaying is not for middle-aged women (Davis, 2018). In this regard, they use their posts to promote their preoccupation with fashion, fitness, and traveling. As such, the study participants prove that images on Instagram can be vehicles for self-identification rather than female objectification.

Women Power Over their Images

Although men may see women as sexual objects courtesy of their sexually provocative pictures, women should have the final say of how they want their images to shape their perceptions to cover the theme discussed in this synthesis essay example. Therefore, rather than the feeling objectified and stereotyped by the captions that males use in pictures posted in the Four Year Party and College Nationwide, female users should use the platform to self-construct gendered and sexual identities (Davis, 2018). In short, the platform can serve as a unique site for female resistance against the themes of male dominance over the female that is increasingly gaining relevance in social media. Therefore, when women adopt such an attitude, the prevalence of themes that celebrate and promote male aggression towards and dominance over women on Instagram and other virtual environments will cease.

Rebuttal

However, one must recognize that self-construction of identity in social media is complicated. For example, Ringrose and Barajas (2011) describe social media platforms as “gendered and sexualized risk and opportunity,” which indicates this complexity (p. 122). Therefore, while females can use Instagram to mount a resistance against male dominance and emphasize their independence, they still have to deal with the prevalence of women objectification and sexualization on virtual platforms. In turn, this aspect does not mean that women should not post sexually-explicit pictures of themselves in these platforms. Basically, it only means that they must be aware of the risks of doing so, covering this synthesis essay example. Based on the analysis of the Four Year Party and College Nationwide, they must know that male commenting, editing, and sharing of that content can be degrading and objectifying. Historically, males have objectified women by treating them as objects of pleasure and also degraded them by requiring their submission.

The Way Forward

Despite the gains brought about by the feminist movement, social media interactions show that these themes are deeply entrenched in society. In this case, the solution for women is to focus on shaping their self-identities through constructive engagement and not dwell on what men do with their (female) images posted and shared on social media sites. For example, such engagement includes creating cultural content that celebrates females and their bodies, such as fashion, fitness, and adventure (Davis, 2018). Moreover, all they need to understand is that, despite the power and opportunity that they have in self-constructing, males will always seek opportunities to degrade and objectify them. Hence, such an understanding is essential in informing their engagements in virtual environments, especially when posting provocative, sexually-explicit images of themselves.

Summing Up on a Synthesis Essay Example About The Power of Images in Stereotyping: The Case of Instagram

The emergence of social media platforms has revolutionized human communication and interaction. To a greater extent, these platforms have created positive outcomes, enabling people to use images in their interactions. As gender studies have shown, women users of platforms like Instagram use their images to self-identify and self-construct within the definitions of identity, sexuality, and gender. However, evidence shows that social media use has significant impacts on how females experience this process of self-identification and self-construction. In turn, this synthesis essay example shows that the use of images on Instagram promotes the prejudicial theme of submissive female college students. Moreover, both the Four Year Party and College Nationwide serve as platforms where male college students reinforce their dominance over their female counterparts by using photos and short videos. In this case, the habit of commenting, editing, and sharing on sexually provocative female photos shows that males prejudice females when they position them as submissive.

This prejudice reflects the societal stereotype of women submission to men, which is the basis for male aggression and dominance toward females. In turn, women have the power to use their Instagram images to self-construct their identity, sexuality, and gender. However, the complexity that they must deal with is that males will always objectify them based on those images. While males see this habit as a form of male bonding and a statement of masculinity, the truth is that it dents the self-image of young women who are trying to locate their identity, sexuality, and gender by considering this synthesis essay example.

References

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Blower, L. (2016). It’s ‘Because I am a Woman’: Realizing identity to reconstruct identity for the female autobiographical inquiry. Convergence, 22(1), 88-101.

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Ridgeway, C. L., & Correll, S. J. (2004). Unpacking the gender system: A theoretical perspective on gender beliefs and social relations. Gender & Society, 18(4), 510-531.

Ringrose, J., & Barajas, K. E. (2011). Gendered risks and opportunities? Exploring teen girls’ digitized sexual identities in postfeminist media contexts. International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics, 7(2), 121-138.

Smith, A., & Anderson, M. (2018). Social media use in 2018. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

Smuts, B. (1992). Male aggression against women. Human Nature, 3(1), 1-44.