Journal of Media Studies, Vol 37, No 1 (2022)

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Visual Representation of Gender Roles, Ideologies, and Victimhood In Pakistani Paintings On Honor Killing

Mehvish Riaz


Art has the soft power to destabilize, subvert, and regulate certain behaviour patterns, identities, and choices. The study aims to explore and understand how men, women, society, and honor killings, in general, have semiotically been represented through visual signs in the paintings and what cultural themes and connotations regarding gender identities and honor killing be derived. The socio-semiotic approach of the grammar of visual design based on ideational, interpersonal, and textual metafunctions suggested by Kress and van Leeuwen (2006) has been applied to study the grammar of eight paintings with reference to gender roles, ideologies, and victimhood. Ideational signs including setting, actors, processes involved in the arrangement, relations between represented participants and their cultural connotations, as well as angle, shot, distance, colour schemes, and modality as interpersonal semiotic resources, and composition, salience, and placement as textual choices have been examined in detail. The analysis shows that women have been represented as marginalized and oppressed, while men as dominant and controlling. The study has implications for gender studies, communication studies, semiotics, honor killing, sociology, and gender-based violence. 


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