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Women in the Media Essay Sample

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Women in the Media Essay Sample

Media, as we know it today, plays a large role in all of our lives, whether we know it or not. It is all around us, newspapers, commercials, posters, magazines, fliers, reality shows, and cartoons only name a few of our everyday interaction with the media. However, with so much involvement in our everyday lives, is the media causing some major problems in our society? One of the main issues with the media is it only appeals to cultural biases, what the public want to hear and what it supports. Sexism can be found in multiple sources anywhere from magazine advertisements to movies, all of which support or portray women in a submissive or inferior and attack women who do not follow this example.

Advertisements are the most obvious forms of usage of sexism in the media. In an ad selling cleaning products, women are portrayed as the ones enjoying the product as if men are not affected by it at all. This is therefore a modern day enhancement of the cult of domesticity. Society still expects women to be physically, mentally and morally inferior to men and the media is only driving this force. Brenna Coleman explains in her article, “Portrayal of Women: Female Stereotypes in the Media” that ads display and highlight the female body parts (thigh, butt, chest) to sell a product which objectifies a women in the eyes of a man.

Hence, men see women as sexual objects, objects must be owned, therefore, men must own women. The media not only think this is alright, but it trains little girls to strive to be perfect little sex toys. In the article, “Our Barbies, Ourselves” Emily Prager describes how Barbie was a woman born of a man’s image. The physical attributes of Barbie cannot be replicated by any living women but still many women try today with plastic surgery and extremely deadly diets until they are as plastic and lifeless as their Barbie beauty idol.

With Barbie, Bratz and Polly at every turn, little girls are brain washed beyond saving to believe they must subject themselves to being pretty and perfect to be accepted in society and the media plays a big part in it. A good example of this is the reality show, “Toddlers in Tiaras” which portray little girls, no older than eight, and their mothers competing in pageantry. These girls and dressed in skimpy clothes and taught flirty poses and dances all at the sake of winning a crown. The worst part is the mothers support it and the media glamorizes it. If there is any indication that we, as a society, are forcing girls into a stage of sexual maturity, mentally or physically, prematurely it is in our media. Movies are just as guilty of this.

Women can be shown in two ways in films; one, pretty, innocent, obedient, and dependent or two, strong, independent, and sassy but a half-clothed sexual object. “Tomb Raider” is a good example of the latter, the main character, Lara Croft, is independent and strong but half-clothed and always sight appealing to the audience. The problem is it has the same effect as the advertisements, it objectifies women. Disney movies do this also; they portray women as slender, fragile, vulnerable and dependent on men for survival such as in “Aladdin” or “Cinderella” (Prager). Working women are even attacked and displayed as being isolated and cold-hearted like Cruela Devil from “101 Dalmatians.”

Although women have made great progress from being lawfully excommunicated from the workforce to voting equally alongside men as equals, but even with political equality they might never gain social equality. This is because our media controls practically every kind of information obtainable. According to “Moral Responsibilities and the Power of Pictures” by Paul Martin Lester, children watch at least twenty five hours of television, adults spend one-half of their leisure time engaged in it, sixty million of 1,500 daily newspapers and 7,600 weekly/ semi newspapers are sold each day and 60,000 different periodicals and 40,000 books are sold each year.

As a society, we take in a lot of information; news, weather, global affairs, new research, and it all comes from the same people who are trying to sell us something. Lester states that “only a small percentage of [our] knowledge is biased on first-person experience. The media provide various experiences and then shape our perceptions of it.” The media is extremely powerful and it now threatens to take all the independence that women for centuries had fought for. A new cult of domesticity had begun to form and to adapt to the legal victories of women, such as shown in Judy Brady’s article, “I Want a Wife,” the women are no longer expected to just do the housework and care for the children but are expected to either help or fully financially support the family.

Brady goes on to show how men gained more freedom when women had liberated themselves from subordination, by allowing women to work men could go to school, work, or just leave the family if he chose to do so. What Brady was trying to convey is that women therefore have no human likeness to us, we are not respected as individuals and men therefore can do as they chose without any regret, because in their logic you can’t hurt an object and there is no use in keeping it if it is no longer worth their wild.

Liliana Hendel, a psychologist and journalist for the subscription television news channel Todo Noticians, and one of the authors of the Ten Commandments (the rules newscasters should follow as to not offend women), or Decalogue, told IPS that “invisible discrimination, which is often unintentional, but occurs because it has become natural in daily life.” Although true and accepted, all efforts to correct this flaw are thrown back at society by our own media because they rely too much on stereotypes to make money even when the health and morality of our society is crumbling around us.

Colman states that, “Media stereotypes of women as objects and helpless beings create very low expectations for society’s girls.” Not only will these girls not strive for anything politically, sociably or economically substantial, they will throw their lives away to be the next Barbie. All in all, the media is a dangerous tool that promotes a society’s stereotypes to make money. Therefore, the media is a direct link to social spheres and women inferiority. Through the media children are shaped to accept sexism and fall into the roles it assigns them. As our own cultural stereotypes are thrown back at us, we must learn how to adapt to them in an ever changing society.

Women have done so in the sense of reverting back to the mother and housekeeper but also seems to have adapted to the extra responsibility of prime, and sometime sole, provider of her family. Men have a different role to play now that they are seen as no longer needed in a family setting, which gives them freedom to explore other avenues but also puts stress on society from lack of father figures and multitudes of breeding. If the media is even partially responsible for all of this, it makes one wonder what else it is capable of.

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