Mass media, particularly advertising, plays an important role in reflecting and shaping gendered images, roles, and stereotypes in Norwegian society. Unfortunately, mass media continues to portray women and men in traditional gender roles; women and girls are often portrayed as caregivers, in domestic settings, or as passive objects while men and boys are shown as active subjects in a variety of situations and settings.
In recent years, mainstream culture has begun to appropriate the imagery and aesthetics of pornography, contributing to the sexualization of public space and the objectification of women. The issue of “pornographization” of public space is currently being discussed by researchers and politicians alike. The Gender Equality Act forbids advertising which discriminates on the basis of gender. This Act has been invoked by the Consumer Ombud in order to have blatantly sexualized advertisement withdrawn on the grounds of gender discrimination.
Access to, and proficiency with, new information and communication technologies (ICT) is increasingly seen as a key to full participation in today’s society. As a result of marketing, design, availability and learned use patterns, technology can be seen as gendered, opening up new areas of gender research in Norway. The subject of how infrastructures and technology relate to gender equality is a question that remains to be raised in the political arena. The possibility of making ICT available to all citizens, regardless of gender, disability, etc. is another topic of research and debate.
With the internet and social media increasingly serving as a forum for public debate, social interaction, and commerce, these new arenas have also opened up for the spread of hate speech, sexualized harassment and human trafficking. This development has offered new challenges to researchers, politicians and law-enforcement agencies.