Intro to Women's Studies 2010

etsu: 2011-2014

Miss Representation

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Media and advertising affect gender roles in the US because we have a constant exposure to media that starts at an early age.  Kids watch many hours of television per week, which includes lots of commercials.  Many of these commercials, such as toy stores and fast food restaurants, are aimed directly at children.  There are more science related toys for boys, while girls’ toys are mostly Barbie dolls and other things that do not encourage critical thinking.  Teenage girls learn the gender expectation of ideal beauty standards by reading fashion magazines.  Popular movies and television shows mostly feature male protagonists.  The male plays a strong, in-depth character, while the woman is usually just a love interest who does not have very deep characterization.  This discourages women from being leaders because it teaches them that their only value is in their physical appearance and in a man’s affection for them.

The news media has a lot of sexism and bias, especially when interviewing female politicians.  They are likely to be asked about their hair and clothing decisions.  They are also likely to be asked about being a mother or a wife.  This is sexist because the same media would ask male politicians real questions about their positions on issues and their political goals.  Another example of sexism in the media is that female reporters are sometimes expected to look sexy wile on the job.  They are judged by their make-up and low cut shirts, instead of being valued for their reporting skills.  This affects every day experiences because women in the average workplace are also somewhat judged by their appearances.

Diversity behind the scenes would change the types of stories told by the media because it would give a different viewpoint from the male gaze.  The male gaze is when media is made by heterosexual men and for heterosexual men.  This viewpoint tends to objectify women.  If there was more diversity behind the scenes, such as more female directors, there would hopefully be less objectification.

We vote with our dollars.  If we subscribe to magazines that support gender equality, then our money is going to help that company grow and spread its ideas.  If we subscribe to magazines that support gender stereotypes, it will have the same affect.  Consumers have the power to influence the media.

I thought this was an excellent documentary.  The statistics showing a correlation between television violence and real life violence were disturbing.  It was also upsetting how the US is very behind other nations in relation to women’s political achievements.


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