Earlier this semester, the manner, in which women are portrayed in the media, was discussed. From music videos to movies, the oversexualization of the female body is a reality of the world we live in. Women are split into parts, made into nothing more than insignificant pieces for audiences to visually consume. Why exactly does the media do this? The answer lies within the society we live in. Heteronormative and patriarchal, society takes on a large role in the development of cultural norms.(Chambers) The media shapes society through publications of the human body and as a result establishes the publications as cultural expectations. Despite some of this year’s movies having women lead roles, they don’t overcome what continued to happen in our society. In the second half of the video women are used as nothing more than props and sexual objects to get viewers to watch the entire advertisement. The purpose of this is post is to raise awareness of the realities that our society faces. What you see in the media isn’t ideal; don’t change yourself to fit the mold.
Chambers, Samuel. Reading the L Word: Outing Contemporary Television. New York: TB Tauris, 2006.
I’ve been seeing this video of an “adorable 911 call” on Facebook and other social media sites a lot lately. In the video, a five year old girl named Savannah calls 911 when her dad has a heart attack. Savannah is helpful in her conversation with the operator, but what makes the video so “adorable” is the way Savannah steers the conversation to her clothes. At 1:54, after the dispatcher tells Savannah that people are on their way to the house to help, Savannah says “Ok. We’re in our jammies… and I’m in a tank top. So… I’ll have to get dressed.” Again at 1:59, Savannah says “”I dont…what I am gonna wear, but… he really needs oxygen.”
The video is garnering attention because Savannah is cute and funny. It is humorous that a little girl is preoccupied with what she will wear to the hospital after her father has just had a heart attack. However, I find the video a little sad because it shows how a five year old girl is already so preoccupied with her appearance. Bergen said in Ways of Seeing that “women appear,” and this video proves that girls internalize society’s expectations of women as decoration at an extremely young age. Savannah must have learned this mentality from female caretakers in her life, as well as media influences. I think this video is an example of gender as a process, and shows how young girls interpret what it means to be female.
Buzzfeed recently posted an article about “The Representation Project” that is fighting to change the way women are represented in media. Included was a powerful three minute video that demonstrated how media failed women in 2013. A lot of the example were reminiscent of the ones we saw in “Dreamworlds” and “Killing Us Softly”, but the sexist excerpts from politicians, news anchors, and radio really left a lasting impression. Seeing women put down and objectified in advertisements and commercials is (unfortunately) not surprising anymore, but the comments from well respected and influential people is. Being at a university that advocates so much from women and equality has put me in a bubble, and now I am shocked by the ignorant and ridiculous comments from the rest of the world. Take a couple minutes and watch the video as well.
This article is almost too perfect for our class discussion to be true. This morbidly funny social commentary story is set up in which some deformed “freak” was born without testes or a penis. Throughout it’s lifetime, the freak has suffered harassment from total strangers on the street, passed up employment opportunities, and been stared at and objectified. “What’s so deformed about not having a penis?” you might ask. Well, apparently it’s being the fact that unfortunately, this assigns you the title of ‘woman.’ Though we know that being a woman clearly does not make you a “freak,” I thought that this article’s sarcasm was an interesting, humorous way to shed light on social issues that still concern women today and are reinforced by the theory that men are innately better, more powerful, and more desirable than women. However, is this type of commentary is too extreme to get real attention or has it truly opened up people’s eyes to the way that society subconsciously views women?
This is one of my favorite spoken word poems–it’s about a young woman struggling with her identity and empowerment as she confronts conditioning and history of being told to be quiet and submissive. The instances and anecdotes she uses to describe this struggle align perfectly with the content we’ve been discussing in class, and reveal the consequences of gendered child rearing in our still highly patriarchal world.
The poet describes how she and her brother were raised differently; she was raised to be more dismissive and quiet while her brother was taught confidence. “My brother never thinks before he speaks,” she says. “I have been taught to filter.” This is an example of how gendered parenting can create more effects than simple color and toy preferences in youth, but lasting effects in confidence and personality.
For much of the poem, the poet also describes the body issues she has experienced as a woman. Like The Cult of Thinness and Reading the Slender Body and Killing us Softly 4 all agree, women feel enormous pressure to maintain a thin and nonthreatening physique while men are allowed to have hulking presences that symbolize their dominance. This issue becomes extremely poignant in her descriptions of her own and her relative’s frail bodies, and in her words ”my brother has been taught to grow out, I have been taught to grow in.”
The struggle she describes is a personal one, as the poet tries to straddle the boundary of defying her ancestry while maintaining a relationship with her mom. But as we’ve learned through various readings in this class, the personal is often political, and her personal struggles reveal larger oppressive gender structures. Now, within that context, this poem not only moves me on intimate level, but compels me to address historic discouragement and oppression of women.
The dynamics in which individuals, and partners choose to run their households is as diverse as the billions of people there on living on this earth. Some might make the strong stance that everything must be split equally and evenly between both people. This would include such responsibilities as, the division of chores, financial expenditures, daycare, and more.
However, I do not feel this approach is necessarily true. It cannot be fair to demand domestic fairness within households, but then impose one possible method to ensure that equality is achieved. As with everything in life, people should have the freedom to choose whatever they feel is fair in their home. Lisa Belkin states in her article, When mom and dad share it all, “Gender should not determine the division of labor at home” (Belkin 2). To me this is a perfect answer to such a convoluted question. Domestic fairness in the home happens when both parties feel it is fair, period. Whichever way they feel comfortable with dividing up the tasks, should be solely up to them. The crucial point being, that society should not be able to rear its ugly head and influence the decision making process. Gender should be left out of the equation, and moves should be made based on those particular individuals comfort level and personal desires.
Though, the ultimate question may be, can there ever really be 100% domestic equality in a home? Is it ever really possible to maintain fairness in the home all of the time? The combining of two separate lives is a difficult task. It has to be known that sacrifices will be made and following personal desires are not always an option.
A new campaign promoting access for voters with disabilities has released a string of ads depicting physically disabled individuals with the slogan “He/She has issues.” While this is the first thing to catch the viewer’s eye, upon closer look these “issues” are revealed to be things like the environment, immigration, women’s rights, and the economy. These ads play on stereotypes and hint at prejudices surrounding the disabled by showing disability in a normative way – one man is in a wheelchair, another walks with a cane, and one woman has a guide dog. At first glance, the viewer may think the “issue” is the person’s disability, when the purpose of the ad is to say “Yes, I’m disabled, but this is not my only issue, and may not be an issue for me at all. My disability should not inhibit my rights.” The ad raises awareness of the challenges faced by disabled individuals but also reminds us that the label “disabled” is just that – a quantifier of their condition. Campaigns like this one, as Dean Spade points out, work in concert with the disability rights movement, which “is about pointing out that disabled people are capable of equal participation in, but are currently barred from participating equally by artificial conditions that privilege one type of body or mind and exclude others.” The campaign for increased access for voters with disability is a physical manifestation of this conviction.
<http://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/prints/access-for-voters-with-disabilities-dennis-18320855/>. Web. (Photos).
Spade, Dean. “Resisting Medicine, Re/modeling Gender.” Print.