Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Women of Today vs the Women of the Media

Media is a huge part of our culture and affects many aspects of our lives even if we do not realize it. In our modern day society eye catching media is everywhere we look. We see it in the grocery store. We see it at the mall. A lot of the time, media is just a way to advertise products, but it is also used to portray stereotypes and sexualize men and women. “Our society has sexism so ingrained in it that advertising simply follows suite.” That is the opinion that one individual, Portia, posted online. “A major concern with sexist advertising is the simple fact that it becomes so normalized that we don’t even notice it.” This kind of advertising is all around us all day whether or not we realize it. Although media stereotypes and advertisements that sexualize women can be eye catching, they gives the world the wrong idea about what women should look like and what they are capable of achieving.

In our country, freedom and equality are guaranteed, yet women are still constantly pushed to the bottom. Women are paid far less than men for the same jobs and I for one do not consider this equality. The media not only affects women’s opinion of themselves but men’s opinions too. Women start believing that they must have that flawless face and thin stomach, and men start believing that beauty is all that matters in a woman. One article written by Lori Kogan, a scientist and professor, talks about a study of women. This study “found that the majority of polled women would rather lose weight than achieve any other goal, despite the fact that only 25% of the polled women were overweight and another 25% were actually underweight.” The fact that women are more interested in getting thin than getting a good job shows just how manipulative the media can be. If women do not believe that they can achieve any position they desire and men feel like women are only a pretty face then the chances of achieving greatness are slipping down to nothing. On the other hand, the media is just showing the public what they want to see. Companies are looking for a way to catch the public eye in order to sell their product and sexualizing women definitely completes that goal. With so many competing companies around the world, your product must have something different that makes a person stop and look at it. In our society, sexual images are often used to get noticed by the public. However, using all of these sexual images affects how the world sees women. Many people think of the US as a free and independent country where men and women are created equal. The graph below shows the percentage of women in a fairly stable and suitable job in countries around the world. As you can see, The US is not anywhere near the top of the list.
Source: UN Statistical Data

The media focuses women too much on their appearance and sexual appeal rather than gaining a good position in life. Kogan commented that, "The emphasis placed on physical appearance leaves women with few resources to pursue other forms of power that are more substantial and lasting.” Sexualizing women in advertising gives the public an unrealistic image that women are objects and that beauty is all that matters. In order to help women gain more power and influence throughout the country, we need the media to stop making women look weak and under the rule of men. Women must be able to stand up and make a difference in the world and the first step towards that is by stopping the media from showing demeaning photos of women. The media has enormous effect on our society and sexualizing women changes how influential they can be throughout the world.
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Conclusion: updated May 28 2014

With all of this new technology spreading throughout the world, it is easy to get caught up in the frenzy. However, that is not any excuse to objectify women in the media. The topic of my blog, how media effects women and their lives, deals with the kind of power the media has over society especially when showing objectified pictures of women. Going into this project, I knew that media could have a huge negative effect on people, but when I really started to conduct my research, I was shocked at what I found. Although some people might say objectification is just an eye catcher for advertisements, they may not realize that it impacts women’s lives immensely. One thing that shocked me the most was that more women would rather lose weight than get a better position in life. As I read through the comments from my readers I learned more about what the public has to say on this issue. Many people, I learned, also have a similar point of view to this matter as I do. Many believe that media does have a huge impact on women and men too for that matter. After completing this blog, reading the comments, replying to the comments, and finally writing this conclusion my opinion on this issue is still where it stood at the beginning of this project. I do still believe that the media is affecting the kinds of jobs and respect that women get. I do believe that objectifying and photo shopping women to look like a flawless robot is wrong and I also believe that unless someone takes action soon things are going to get much worse. Thank you to readers and commenters for all of your opinions.
















9 comments:

  1. The limited role women play in our government is certainly of concern, Lynn429. This underrepresentation is duplicated in the number of women who are heads of major corporations (4.2 percent in Fortune 500 companies) and even in the lower pay women receive for equal, if not more productive, work (see Gender Inequality in the Workplace> .) Do you think women do so poorly in the U.S. just because of the way women are portrayed in the media, or do you think there are some other stereotypes about women as stay-at-home mothers that are involved as well? Thank you for your post. -- Ms. Riches

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  2. I like your attempt to make the connection between media perspectives and depictions of women to women's positions in the workplace.
    I really like this statement, "he fact that women are more interested in getting thin than getting a good job shows just how manipulative the media can be." I was hoping you would add proof of this direct correlation.

    Some writing notes:
    There are a few commas missing in the introductory paragraph to help break the sentence structure up.
    The concluding statement seems like something you would place in the beginning or middle of your piece. The second to the last sentence seemed like a more appropriate ending.

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  3. Thank you for your post, Lynn429. It is amazing how much of an impact media has on our perceptions of the world. The poll about how women would rather lose weight then get a good job was surprising and frightening. However, the number of women going and graduating college has dramatically increased the last couple of years, surpassing the number of men. Does media have a role in this? What other factors are affecting the difference in pay between men and women?

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    1. Thanks for your comment Andrew! You are absolutely right that the number of women going to college now is far more than men. I found a picture you might like from a site called collegestats.org. The picture shows a graph of the number of women vs the number of men going to undergraduate school. As for the media, I believe it does have a role in this. Not only does the media target women but it targets men and can have a huge affect on peoples actions would could ultimately make college look appealing or unappealing. Thanks for the comment.

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  4. Lynn429, you mention that "the media is just showing the public what they want to see." Is that actually true? In our society, which is 50+% female, is sexism and objectification what women want to see? Who controls the media? Who's perspective is shaping the messages we receive? I think you would find the work of Jennifer Pozner quite eye-opening. In her book Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV she takes a look at that argument that the media is giving us what we want and really picks it apart. Certain types of entertainment media (particularly that which showcases negative images of women in television shows) are cheaper to produce, therefore they flood the airwaves and make media corporations lots of advertising money. Check out her website! I think you'd like her book.

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  5. Lynn429, thank you for this powerful and thoughtful post. Inequality for women is a hugely under addressed topic in the United States, and as your graph shows, America is certainly not pioneering a solution for this problem. I was shocked to see your statistic on women putting their physical appearance before their life goals, and I know that as a girl myself, I must strive everyday not to let the opinions of others rule my life. However, I wonder what the connection between the representation of women in a country, and how they are profiled on social media is. This image is from a Swedish clothing advertisement ( http://files.coloribus.com/files/adsarchive/part_700/7006105/file/tiger-of-sweden-clothing-cab-small-63838.jpg ), and I would say that it is not much better than some in America. Also, I do not think that Georgia has great access to media, and they are the lowest on the graph. What connection do you think there is between the media and representation of women?

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    1. Thanks you very much for your comment on my blog demoiselle! I also appreciated your picture from a Swedish clothing advertisement which was the exact type of advertising I was addressing in my blog. As for Georgia being lowest on the graph, certainly in many other countries media is not to only thing affecting gender representation. My statistics about how the media affects the lives of women mainly apply to the United States and a little bit in the UK. Thanks for your comment!

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  6. Hi,
    This post is very thoughtfully written. Why do you think women play such a small role in politics and high authority jobs? And when they are they are not respected as highly as men in the same or related jobs. I think this is unavoidable because humans are stubborn. How do you think this impacts how women are portrayed under other circumstances? Great Job!

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    1. Thanks for your comment Maddie. I think that this issue of women playing smaller roles than men dates back to when American was just a group of colonies. Women have been expected to cook and clean when in reality they are people just like men and deserve the same opportunities. Thanks for your comment.

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