Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Women, Watch Out for Stereotypes!

“Whoever controls the media, controls the mind” (Jim Morrison). 

Women have always been considered the “underdogs” of our society. The last time we saw a revolution specifically for females was the women’s rights movements. However, there’s a new revolution starting right under our noses: the revolution of women in the media. Women in the media have been stereotyped for as long as the media has existed, but women everywhere are starting to take a stand. Media stereotypes of women are hurting women in real life, now more than ever.

The television industry is just one of many popular media outlets. Adults and children of all ages are being exposed to countless stereotypes of women the second they click their remote. Women’s characters in television are often portrayed as sex symbols or dependent, needy princesses awaiting the help of their knight in shining armor, while their male counterparts are portrayed as protective, aggressive, and strong (Maggie Wright). Nearly all roles for women in the television industry are like this. As those actresses who were once portrayed as the sex vixen grow older, they begin to lose jobs. One example is Susan Sarandon. When she was young, all sorts of roles were open to her. However, as she aged, she was hired for fewer leading roles. The same actress that once had the role of Louise in “Thelma and Louise” and Janet in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was now only able to get roles as a nun or an older mother(Maggie Wright). But if a man gets older, he can still be considered “sexy” and therefore valuable.

The television industry also uses women to market their products. How many commercials have you seen where a white toothed lady with glossy hair and perfect makeup tells you about a product that can make you look just like her? Television corporations convince us that if we, as women, buy their products, it will fix the flaws that they marketed to us in the first place! It is an endless cycle that’s hard to perceive, and even harder to counteract. Women and girls are constantly seeing stereotypes relating directly to them. Young girls are maturing far before their time and being expected to take on the role of the sexual, dependent female far before they’re ready.

Representations of Gender in Advertising (Sarah Zelinski)

Alternatively, cognitive scientists have found that women who have a knowledge of both a positive and negative stereotype relating to them will often relate more to the positive one. Robert J. Rydell PhD led a study focusing on the math ability of women. His study showed that women who were aware of the stereotype that men are better at math did worse on the test than women who weren’t aware of the stereotype. The study shows the positive effects of stereotypes on women, and how it boosted their performance, specifically in math. Rydell is quoted to have said, “"People seem motivated to align themselves with positively stereotyped groups and, as a byproduct, can eliminate the worry, stress and cognitive depletion brought about by negative performance stereotypes, increasing actual performance” (Nauert).

Although this research can be compelling, it is clear that the stereotyping of women is a big problem. Social media makes it easier now more than ever to quickly stay in touch and share things from your life...but what happens when someone crosses the line? An article by Temitayo Fagbenle took a fresh look at a problem that all teen girls have heard of and all parents fear: explicit photos of teen girls being posted online. Many times, the girls are blamed, even though they aren’t the ones who initially posted the illicit photo. Rarely is it ever blamed on the man. One anonymous girl said that she felt like something was wrong, but didn’t know that her boyfriend was videotaping her with his phone. Another girl said, “"I couldn't even look at my mother because I felt hurt and I also felt that I disrespected her. I didn't want kids in the school to look at my mother and be like, 'Wow, she raised a nothing'" (Fagbenle). Girls are being blamed for intimate photos of them being posted when it isn’t even their fault. Who’s really to blame? The obvious answer would be the person who posted the pictures, of course. But look a little deeper. There’s a much more subtle enemy: the media’s stereotyping of women.

In conclusion, women need to take a stand. Be responsible online and offline for not buying in to the stereotype. Don’t let sneaky, hidden messages manipulate your self perception.

Reflection: Overall, this project was both enlightening and frustrating. It was interesting to do research on my topic and find out new things about the stereotypes of women. I would have never guessed that there was a positive side to stereotypes, even though I didn't find it as compelling. It was frustrating, however, to have to use only online tools to organize my research. It was challenging to use noodle tools to keep track of everything. I prefer using actual paper because there is less room for error.

5 comments:

  1. In response to your post, here are my views on stereotypes and advertisements directed towards women:

    The society and the media tells a girl how she is supposed to dress and how she is supposed to look, but conforming to these stereotypes can sometimes do more harm than good. Throughout history, the media has portrayed women as weak and helpless. In the most common Disney movies, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Dir. Larry Morey, 1937), Shrek (Dir. Vicky Jenson and Andrew Adamson, 2001) and other movies, the girl is the Damsel in Distress and has to be rescued by her Knight in Shining Armor. These stereotypes have progressed and gotten somewhat worse throughout the years. In present day media, women are being objectified by men and are told they need to present themselves as the models do in advertisements.

    In advertisements directed towards women, the model has perfect skin, perfect hair, and the perfect body. The model is demonstrating what the product is said to do, demonstrating how you will become perfect after using the product. Yet, in reality, most of the model’s ‘perfect’ image is created in Photoshop by removing any blemish and imperfection in order to sell the product. This tricks the consumer into thinking that the stereotype of ‘Photoshop perfection’ is the reality. In this Dove - Evolution commercial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hibyAJOSW8U), it shows how a model is completely made over for a foundation advertisement, goes through a photo shoot, and then her image is altered to perfection in Photoshop. A person looking at the ad would not know that the image had been altered to perfection using Photoshop because stereotypes have made us think that the image is the way you should look, naturally. These ads have created a stereotype that have made us think that a woman should look like this all the time. These ads make us believe that if we don’t naturally look like the model in the advertisement, then the product will make us look this way. Because of these stereotypes, a picture is painted for how the entire female population is supposed to be. These stereotypes make it hard for any girl to go her own way because she feels that she has to be in this box. A box defined by the advertisements and and stereotypes, a box that no girl deserves to be in.

    Stereotypes hurt the female population’s image again and again, and more than one way. Stereotypes have a significant role in creating insecure girls. We have been socialized as a whole to think that women are helpless and weak. We are told that they can’t participate in sports that are strenuous, and that their figure is all that matters. That there is no such thing as beauty without makeup, and the perfect body without a diet. These ads and these words are changing our views of the female populations, and are altering our views as to what is realistic.

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  2. In response to your writing, I have put something together that gives a few facts about this issue, and what needs to happen in order to make a change.

    Gender Equality for Women
    “I do not wish [women] to have power over men; but over themselves,”-Mary Wollstonecraft

    An interpretation of this quote is how women don’t necessarily want to have power over the opposite sex, but to have equal power to men. But even more importantly than that, women want to have control over themselves.
    Social media, peers, or even family have major influences on the way girls think about men, other girls, and themselves. While there are positive aspects of being a girl, the pressures that are pushed onto females are numerous and very significant. Awareness needs to be raised about gender equality topics so that there can be more fights for change. There needs to be a focus of staying kind to each other, and have outlets to express feelings having to do with gender.
    Women in American society have been negatively socialized to think about their bodies, appearance, and the actions they should or should not make. The media has a big part in these stereotypes, prejudices against women. For example, in my physics class, a group of boys were discussing Kate Upton (a supermodel.) I personally don’t see the attraction to her, (considering that all girls are beautiful, I could not see the obsession with her) and I decided to ask. And partly to my surprise, they admitted that her face wasn’t the reason they “liked” her. The appeal to Upton wasn’t even because her body, but because of her chest. These comments from men definitely bring upon self-esteem issues for girls and show them that even if they have a horrid personality, there can be an appeal to them if we have a “hot” body and substantial breasts. I believe it is because of these statements that girls wear makeup, go on diets, and wear uncomfortable clothes in public. Breast implants, plastic surgery, and eating disorders don’t naturally come into play. They happen because girls try to fit into this mold of “perfection.” Another example of this takes place when reading fashion magazines, (which many teenage girls do) there will be a swimsuit advertisement, and the model is always wearing heavy makeup, with dry hair. The advertisement represents the idea that teenagers constantly need to be visually beautiful as well, and can never let their walls fall, even if they are doing a physical activity, like swimming. Girls hold a reputation of always fretting what they look like, which has proven true for a lot of teenagers. This may not be the natural instinct for girls, but it happens because of the influences from media, and personal connections.
    Our job as current teenagers is simple as a concept but difficult in reality. We need to band together and began clearing out negative posts about girls being referred to as “bitches” and the pressures about appearance; as well as educating people about the powers of a girl. It is possible to narrow the gap of segregation; it all starts with one. Groups can be made with immediate communities, or a more global website can be publishes where positive comments and supportive motives can be written.

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  3. “Why fit in when we were born to stand out.”-Dr. Seuss. I fully agree with your essay. It is my opinion that by default, being fake is considered what girls need to do to be pretty.Where did it come from, the idea that being natural isn’t beautiful. As far back as you go, it’s been around. Corsets and footbinding, plastic surgery and makeup, it’s always been there, but where did these objects to beautify come from. Everywhere I look, people are wearing make up. Downtown, people wear more makeup than they do clothes. Magazines, every picture is airbrushed to perfection. It sets unrealistic expectations of what we need to do to be beautiful. My first question to you is, do you think that is the media changed how they portrayed women, would all the change?

    Gender differences are on the outside, not the in, why can’t we treat it like that?
    As i previously stated beautifying objects have been around since the basic start of civilization. as far back as corsets it has been a social norm to make yourself unnaturally beautiful. The styles change from bushy mouse eyebrows to huge hair on top of your head, but it's still there. In this article (http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3177584?uid=3739768&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21102843539637) it talks about how society may not play that large of a part in how girls are, but I completely disagree. Think about cavemen. Beauty was not something that mattered. They didn't go on diets or pluck their eyebrows. My last question to you is A, what are your opinions on what I have stated her, and B, why and when do you think beauty became something so important. Who decides what is beautiful?

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  4. Dear Thing 3, I enjoy reading your post and I thought it was very intriguing, interesting, and brought up very good points. My favorite part was the section after the video. I thought you brought up some very good fact such as "His study showed that women who were aware of the stereotype that men are better at math did worse on the test than women who weren’t aware of the stereotype". Although there are a few questions I have. In your essay you mention that the stereotyping of women is behind girls posting intimate photos of themselves. Shouldn't one think though before they post a photo or video of themselves? I would like to see you approach this point through your topic. Over all I really enjoyed reading your essay and I had a laugh at the video you add to it. Sincerely FI-Jiber.

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  5. Hello Thing3. I really enjoyed reading your blog, it was fascinating. I totally agree with you about stereotypes being sexist. A lot of people think that females are very weak and can't open like a jar of jam, which is totally wrong. The stereotypes that I hear a lot is that all Asians are smart and are geniuses. It is not actually true, it is all just a stereotype. I agree that stereotype is a huge problem to people. How can you prevent people from having stereotypes? I think it would be hard to prevent stereotypes, but it can make some changes through commercials, TV shows, and etc. A lot of people watch TV and there are a lot stereotypes going on television, so if TV shows don't show stereotypes or show less, it might make some changes. Thank you for posting this blog, it gives something for me to think about.

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