May 12, 2011 / Education, Media - Entertainment, Sexism, Uncategorized

How Media Entertainment Defines Gender and Values

by

The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a study was conducted in 2010 to determine the amount of time children between the ages of 8-18 years of age spend using entertainment media, which includes TV, cells, internet, ipods, and video games. The results are astounding: the average child spends almost 11 hours a day, seven days a week, entrenched in them. (Here is a PDF version of the findings for further perusal). And they’re not the only ones who have succumbed to the siren call of the media — the adults play as well. We are all complicit in this, and there is no one to blame but ourselves — their parents — because when we subscribe to Cable companies, paying over $20o a month for the pleasure of their content, we are, in essence, tossing the impressionable minds of our children upon the rocks of destruction. Is this an exaggeration? Let’s look at the quality of entertainment they supply us with, and most especially, let us explore how their entertainment brainwashes not only our children, but women — and in turn, how our children begin to look upon us:

Leisure and sports activities, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Labor. (Click image to go to site.)

Commercials: Do you ever notice how much longer the commercials are compared to the show you’re actually tuning in to watch? It seems nowadays that the actual show gets less air time than the commercials. And what commercials are we forced to endure? Sexist commercials that tell women their fungus-infested mop is in tears and will miss them because they’ve switched to Swiffer Jet. Commercials that show skinny and beautiful Goddesses in their forties running around, or doing crafts with their three kids, somehow managing to look hot, happy, wrinkle and fat-free — which just so happens to be the opposite of how most women look after a day of mothering. Women are ridiculed for their impatience and high standards when the mom on TV laughs cheerfully as she wipes the mess her husband and kids make when they spill soda or sauce all over the kitchen counter or floor. Not to mention that a woman’s place, according to these commercials, is within the confines of the domestic — either in the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, or the supermarket. And this is just how women are represented.

Kids are told what kind of toys they should play with according to their gender. Dolls that pee and poo after they’re fed, puppies that need to be combed and walked, Princesses and Barbies that define how girls should look — perfect, sexy, beautiful and skinny. These commercials define girlhood and womanhood for our daughters. Our sons are told to be adventurous, aggressive, and ambitious by playing with toys that don’t need to be nurtured — toys that require force and assertive behavior. Boys are also told how to treat girls and women — when they are older. Portraits of hot, skinny, and dolled up females who treat them well in bed and then manage to cook for them and pick up after them define the kind of women they will be looking for and marrying as well as how they will be treating them.

Men are told that they are nothing if they don’t drive the right car, have the right job, drink the right beer, or have a hot babe clinging to their arms. And what if, after 15 years of marriage and motherhood their wives aren’t skinny and hot and radiant and happy? He’s most often told to dump her, while he goes off on his mid-life crisis, which is no crisis, since he gets to have sex with hot babes and drive fast convertibles — forcing her to support herlself and their kids without him.

News: Stories are told from the perspective of the storyteller — and anyone with a background in research knows that polls and statistics and surveys are manipulated and skewed to support the researcher’s hypothesis. It’s all a game — a numbers’ game — a name-dropping game — and the sooner we all understand this, the better off we will be, and they will have to shut up about polls that tell them girls aren’t as good in math and science as boys are. That women aren’t genetically inclined to be nurtuting or stay-at-home moms.

Political correctness exists for everyone except women. News reporters like Chris Matthews and Bill Maher derail women on their shows, and we should be appalled. Recently, the public has become acutely aware of how political figures like Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton are reduced to bad mothers, witches, hags and nags, and other more colorful epithets that are only allowed to be spewed at members of the female sex. When male news reporters reduce female political figures to domestic entities by referring to them as having the kind of faces and nagging expressions they wouldn’t want to come home to, these men take away women’s power in politics.

How is it that there’s so much PC out there for everyone except women? How is it that a woman vying for political office can so easily — and without protest or admonishment — be reduced to and critiqued as a wife, a mother, and based on her looks? This is sexist rhetoric, and rigid lines need to be drawn. News reporters and journalists need to be vilified for their sexist comments and their bigotry — and women need to stand up and say, “No More.”  By losing viewers, they lose money, and their voices — full of hate and bias — are no longer heard. Then they will change their ways and become more respectful towards the women that gave birth to them, married them, and gave birth to their children. How do they go home and face their wives? How do they face their daughters?

Reality TV — Reality television shows have taken over and bring us down. When we watch The Bachelor, we passively witness women selling themselves to one man — competing for one man — a race of sex and stupidity — for one man. People tune in to watch, and laugh at, Jersey Shore‘s young “stars” as they drink themselves to oblivion and have sex with one another in public. The Housewives of NJ/NY/Atlanta portray ridiculous women who marry money, have no self-respect, and behave like idiots. Wife Swap demonstrates the fact that women are interchangeable and expendable — why do the women have to swap places? They have to enter the threshold of a new home, assume the wife and mother roles of another woman — and this is OK with everyone? Teen Moms is a show that tells our teen aged daughters that it’s OK to get pregnant — they can have a baby, still have friends and a social life, and heck, if it doesn’t work out, they can just give the baby up for adoption. Is this what we want our girls to watch? Our boys?

And let’s not forget that Toddlers and Tiaras is even allowed to be on the air.

In the early 1900′s we established laws to protect our children. Today child services calls your home if you do not clothe and feed your child properly, and yet we allow the dregs of society to exploit their beautiful little girls on air — for money — dressing their three and four-year-olds in Madonna-style cone-cupped dresses that protrude from their childish chests, five pounds of make-up making them look like living dolls — applauding as their little bodies grind and bump and shimmy like strippers.  We tune in to these shows because they are ridiculous, we tell ourselves. They make us laugh — we’re just making fun of them — but when we tune in, we keep them going. We feed them, we give them license to continue, we tell them it’s OK to act like this, and we make them rich. We tell network owners that we will keep on watching  just to see what else these crazies do, and they will ask their producers to make more shows like this; and to keep their jobs and their salaries, they will come up with more insane ideas, find more uncouth, self-serving and degenerate members of society to exploit themselves and their loved ones for money and short-lived fame. And we’re partly to blame.

Kids’ Shows: Aside from some good television shows like Noggin, PBS, and Discovery Channel, (you may know of some more, but in comparison to what this is focusing on, there’s not much out there), everything else is ridiculous. Drowned in gender-based and consumer-conditioned commercials, our children can’t even watch Nick Jr or Nickelodeon without being forced to consume violent cartoons, teenagers making out, and even guest appearances by renowned gang member and drug dealer gone misogynistic rapper, Snoop Dogg, dressed as Santa Claus — his intent on selling his new album, which is full of raps about sexist attitudes towards girls, drugs, women, sex — not what middle school and high school kids should be listening to. What clean and appropriate shows are out there for boys and girls that don’t reinforce sex, fame, drugs, money, and living without parental controls? In another study, the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that kids are exposed to daily doses of 60% of sexual images and 53% of violence — and this poll was taken in 2004.

Survey shows American kids watch too much TV 4 hours a day (Daily Newsfeed, GlobeElites.com). (Click image to view article.)

Music Videos: It happens that when a new song comes on, we fall so in love with it that we have to check out the video — which only turns out to be shocking. For instance, Rihanna’s new song “only Girl” sounded perfect — her voice is sweet and soul-reaching — but her video is plain and simple and sleazy as she makes “sex” to the camera. She’s out in the country dressed in a bathing suit-like outfit that makes her breasts stick out and shows off her long legs — in high heels, of course. She’s slithering on the ground like she’s grinding the earth beneath her loins — and this runs for about nine minutes of her song.

The trend in videos is that if the artist is a guy — he doesn’t have to do anything but sing his song — but in the background there is always a woman — and it’s all about her sex. If the artist is a woman, then she has to be the singer and she has to sex it up for the camera and her viewers. Do we really want to watch that? Do we want our sons to see images of the sexualized woman — to think that this is how women should be portrayed and represented — objects that function to fulfill their desires and needs — to feed their senses with her sensuality? And our daughters — do we want them to look at these objectified images of girls and be conditioned to believe that they need to dress like this, behave like this — to get what they want? “Sex sells,” the adage goes. “It’s how it is — it will never change.” And are we supposed to lie down and take that? No. Don’t buy into it, and most certainly, don’t let our daughters buy into the notion that if they want fame, money, promotions at work, or even their girlfriends or boyfriends to like them, that they have to sex it up for them.

Just say no! Turn off cable and television and sexist music and say, No thanks! No thanks television, reality TV, commercials, or music videos. No thanks Snoop Dogg, Rihanna, or reality TV “stars” from Joyzie, Atlanta, or anywhere else. And no thanks to the creators, network owners, news reporters, or enslaved producers for the smut they provide to the masses. And a final no thanks to Cable companies and their CEO’s who take our money month after month just to introduce our family to vapid entertainment and inundate us with stereotypical and sexist commercials that derail our progress. No thanks, and no more.

Join Our Email List

Be the first to know the latest initiatives from The New Agenda to improve the lives of women and girls.

Thank you for joining our list! Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.

  • Bes

    Anyone who subscribes to Cable TV is subsidizing sexist content. It is not humanly possible to screen and parentally control all damaging sexist content that is force fed into your home over your basic cable connection. That means your children can happen onto it easily and even if you do block it you still pay for it which subsidizes that sort of content.

    It is asking a lot to give up all TV or even all shows on cable TV but that is not necessary. Here is a link on how to cut the cable cord, save a lot of money each month, and still watch your few favorite shows. If you don’t like this article just Google “cut the Cable TV cord”

    http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/.....tv008.html

    Women consumers are being screwed by the Media Cartel.

  • marille

    Marina, great piece. have sent your article around.
    want to point out the non profit “campaign for commercial free childhood” which has taken up the fight against the commercial, the sexualization of girls.