To: Ken Cornwell SOCI 1010 From: Anita Schlicher Fall/2012 Paper III
Gender Inequality There have been vast changes in women's rights in the last century. After endless picketing, fighting and jail sentences, women were finally given the right to vote on a national level. Over the course of history, women have found that rights which were automatically granted for men required an exhaustingly large amount of fighting to obtain for themselves. It is unbelievable that the role of the woman had been devalued so much that women were not allowed to do what many women today now consider “basic” things such as receiving an education, holding jobs that did not involve children, or even own property. Even though women today are able to earn college degrees, have careers, own property, vote, and even run for political positions themselves, there are still countless gender inequalities. Children are submitted to gender roles pretty much from the moment they are born. Baby showers involve a sea of pastel blues for boys and soft, delicate pink for girls. Female children are given dolls and doll houses and other cute toys, and are expected to "play house," nurture and take care of their dolls, and play "dress-up," while male children are typically given things such as G.I. Joes, sports equipment, and toy cars. In our beloved fairy tales women (unless evil) are increasingly beautiful, youthful, probably of royal blood, and often in need of help, which is usually because she is either oppressed by a man, or needs a man to save her. It is never another woman who saves the beautiful princess. Although there are female heroines in fairy tales, they compose almost an invisible minority of the stories. Different social messages are sent through these simple things of clothing colors, toys, and stories: For girls it's to be delicate, beautiful, and nurturing, while boys learn the need to be tough and athletic. As a result of this constant reinforcement of the modern gender, by age five children have a fairly comprehensive understanding of the modern gender and the roles which they are expected to conform. The mass media often objectifies women and in turn devaluates them. The women of Hollywood, catwalks, magazines, screens, and billboards are more often than not extremely thin, young, and beautiful, with a perfectly sculpted curvaceous frame. They are objectified for not only their bodies, but for parts of their bodies. They are often silenced by their hands over their mouths, passive positions, or composed as sexual objects. They are photographed in studios, with hours of makeup and hair styling by an army of cosmeticians and hairdressers, while the lighting specialists and camera crew set up their fancy equipment. During the shooting session they are endlessly retouched, and after the shoot is done they are touched up and again and again digitally. Pores and imperfections disappear, and all that is left is a perfection that is impossible to achieve. As former Supermodel Cindy Crawford said, “Even I don't wake up looking like Cindy Crawford.” Nonetheless, women strive endlessly to achieve the impossible ideal of beauty personified by the silver screens and glossy pages. Teenage girls' esteem plummets when they turn 13, in part from these impossibly perfect images of beauty which surrounds them. Those feelings of inadequacy almost always lead to depression, and an alarming rate of girls develop eating disorders sometime in their lives. That number is also getting higher as the age of onset slides lower and lower. Though it may be a bit harsh to blame it solely on the media, they do...
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