For centuries the depiction of women has never been favourable, women are illustrated as mere objects to be analysed, sexualised and measured by men. Drum magazine as one of the leading publications to document the black people in the 1950s, they also followed international trends that depict women in positions that were not equal to their male counterparts.
The western and African tradition often considered the male voice to be stronger than that of the women and The mid-twentieth century construed an identity that meant “some young men to express their manhood through the subordination of women” (Clowes 2008:185). Women rights were not taken for granted therefore it not surprising that their covers chose to focus on how their beauty and physical appearance rather than their intellectual capabilities. When male figures appear on the cover their either displace for their ability to take care of their family and exert control of women or the appear as a result of the political affiliation of which it made it seem like women had no desire to take action of the current political situation that affected black people at that time. The popularity of Drum in the 1950s meant that it played a key role in delivering social commentary on the depiction of black people in and around Johannesburg.
The year 1956 is an important year in the South African calendar, as it marks the year in which the women’s march to the Union Buildings to offer the grievance to the ruling party of the unfair treatment of women as well as to demand equal rights in the society. The depiction of women before the event took place was set out and men usually took the leadership role when it came to struggling for political emancipation, therefore this particular march changed the idea of women being submissive instead women took charge of equality across the racial spectrum despite societal norms.the April 1956 cover illustrate the roles, according to male standards, that women should occupy.in which women should take domestic roles in the household and leadership role, however on the ground many women initiate change and took action to fight injustice.this cover might mislead the readers that women were indeed not seen as mere objects rather as one to be taken seriously. A majority of the covers either had women depicted with a male figure or the covers depicted women within a sexual context.
Some research indicates that women were as equally involved in the acquisition of freedom behind the scenes, however, they never got to be in the spotlight as their male counterparts. According to Hooks (2000;3), contemporary movement from its inception, they were not individuals who became the “stars” of the movement, who attracted the attention of mass media and this is a crucial distinction to how the patriarchal norms have been ingrained within the society.
The magazine took a different direction at the beginning of the dawn of democracy, instead of operating on a "black conscious" aura during the apartheid era, it managed to re-brand itself as a publication that celebrates tabloid culture. it is evident that that global trend has influenced the re-positioning the magazine, as the publication, embrace other magazine standards of "good" journalism and abandoned current affairs news. the magazine cover below is a recent example how the publication looks today, from female representation to the text and glossy imagery are all used to entice readers, all speak to consumerism which has nothing to do with social issues. articles all includes tips to improve your life (from beauty to lifestyle) as well as general questions from readers, none of them addresses social ills that plague the nation.