Role of Shaping Thoughts
Research regarding the elements of how media objectifies women is available and plentiful because it is an old concept. This objectification shapes the opinions that women have of themselves and that men have of them. Common bonds that exist within the literature regarding the media’s role in human sexuality is objectification is accepted as normal, it affects the building of self esteem, and the perception of what is sexually desirable. This paper includes a brief literature review, an analysis of the outcomes, possible implications and my personal reflection.
The media plays a large role in objectifying women, shaping their opinions of themselves, and outlining the thoughts of human sexuality. This statement is true because it can be proved through multiple examples of television shows, daily advertisements, music videos and more. This statement is true because research shows correlations between media and low levels of body esteem in women. This statement is also true because of the definition of human sexuality. Human sexuality can be defined as a mixture of the ways people feel and express their sexual character, their personal values of gender roles, and their experiences with sexual pleasure; it is unfortunate that the media largely determines what is “normal” in this area. Objectification of Women
The objectification of women in the media is far from a new concept. I was born in the 1980’s and I remember watching He-Man and Shera. I never thought about Shera’s character until writing this paper. Shera and even Wonder Woman wore skimpy clothing. Even backing up before then, Playboy magazine was introduced in the 1950’s for men’s pleasure. All the television shows of the 60’s have portrayed simple and submissive housewives, and the 70’s advertisement showed all t he men who smoked cigarettes got the beautiful young woman. I feel that those things may not have been as offensive as the newer media materials however, they showed nothing to empower women or display their individuality without the intent to please a man.
Regardless how big or little you are into women’s rights and equality, it is easy to see objectification of women every day. In my opinion, this is an issue because it appears the message is that women are not valuable humans but objects of satisfaction. Today, just googling the terms “objectified images of women” you see half naked women posing as a foot stool for clothing, a purse with a pair of tall slender legs, a beer bottle made out of a woman’s figure, a woman with two big pool balls as breast, women in bikinis with bags over their faces, a sign that reads “wish I could go somewhere without make up feel beautiful” and the list goes on.
I wonder how men would feel if this was reversed. The flip side of this objectification has been demonstrated through a dating site called checkhimout.com, where women are persuaded to shop for men on hanging racks as if they were shopping for blue jeans. The advertisement caught a lot of slack even though it is not even that popular. My concern is enough fuss is not being made to change how women are presented to society. The level of such objectification and acceptance is sickening and heartbreaking. I feel it is a form of oppression to constantly exploit and dehumanize women every day within songs, ads, television, etc. Media Messages and Self-Esteem
For this assignment, I reviewed the article “Adolescents and Music Media: Toward an Involvement-Mediational Model of Consumption and Self-Concept.” As of 2006, the typical teenager spent a minimum of 18 hours per week listening to music and an additional 3-10 hours watching videos (Kister et al, 2010). I assume that these numbers have increased with the improvement of technology making it easier to access such materials. Kistlers article gave background information that teens absorbed these lyrics and held the images to be meaningful, including the idea that being wealth, physical fitness was vitally important. Kistler also stated that research found that most female teens looked to music and videos for accurate information on their “emerging sexuality.” The study took 214 suburban eighth graders (82% white) and collected data through a series of surveys. Although there were limitations to their measures, the outcome still state that both boys and girls alike looked to the music characters to mirror their own image. This is devastating most especially if the character is being degraded or their actions may lead to harm in real life (Kistler et al, 2010). I do not have any statistics but I have read headlines that speak of rapes and assaults due to inappropriate behavior and expectations glorified by music videos. What the Media Exhibits to be Normal
If you like to watch television, you see it is mostly normal for a female character to be a submissive housewife or a sexy whorish single that chases men. This is exemplified through shows like Desperate Housewives, Hot in Cleveland, or Love and Hip Hop. Shows that may show a woman of intelligence or strong character displays her as a bitter or scorn bitch with some sort of hang up or control issue. My favorite example of this could be The Have and the Have Nots. Last but not least some shows show women with careers never have romantic satisfaction and just become workaholics like Law and Order, Drop Dead Diva and the Closer.
Even for music videos, the culture is making it specific that attractiveness is nothing other than heels and nakedness. The images of these women display that a promiscuous and revealing body is sexy, desirable, and the best way to get a man with money. The sad thing is most of the lyrics are downing the very image that the video is glorifying. Although this is mostly hip hop genre, Latino and country music have ways of exploiting women as well. Kenny Chesly’s song “Come Over” is about a booty call and Trace Adkins “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” is about getting women to shake their butts while men enjoy the view.
It is understandable that body parts are a prevalent element of sexuality but other things are just as or more necessary. Television shows, magazine ads, or music videos that talk about love, respect, communication, values, and relationships are barely existent compared to those that miss those components. This is illustrated in an ad with one man being catered to by two women in lingerie. To me this implies that this type of threesome relationship is desired, it is okay, and it is cool because it represents the trendiest and most current brand name. Laying in the bed with two half naked women has very little to do with a wrist watch.
It is plain and simple that the media displays casual sex and booty shaking as normal. This is displayed as normal because these components almost always have to be included for a show, song, or advertisement to be a long lasting or a short time big hit. The worst part is the bodies that are being shown and glorified are the rare type. The average shape and weight of a woman is rarely used for advertisement. Conclusion
Human sexuality is a big part of who we are. From the time we are a child until we have reached a very ripe age, we have a strong emotion tied to our sense of man/womanhood and our contentment with our personal selves. Regardless of diversity, our personal selves include our sexual character. If we are bombarded with fantasy and unrealistic images of ourselves, we will not feel comfortable with ourselves. Research from Halliwell et al noted that providing information about the unrealistic nature of media images may have immediate benefits for young girls and women. Such discussion creates an increase in the short term levels of body and self esteem. I believe that had that study tested for long term, the results would have been concurrent,
As a Human Service worker, I hope to help people increase their well being as an individual. We never know what problems clients may be facing when we serve them so we have to be prepared with knowledge. If the media displays manly men as providers for their home, a male client may be uncomfortable applying for state assistance. If the media displays all of the popular television adolescents as one image, a teen foster child may incur additional stressors and problems due to body esteem. This class and assignment has reminded me that we must love and validate ourselves as well as be open minded and non judgmental towards clients.
Halliwell, E., Easun, A., & Harcourt, D. (2011). Body dissatisfaction: Can a short media literacy message reduce negative media exposure effects amongst adolescent girls?. British Journal Of Health Psychology, 16(2), 396-403. doi:10.1348/135910710X515714 Kistler, M., Rodgers, K., Power, T., Austin, E., & Hill, L. (2010). Adolescents and Music Media: Toward an Involvement-Mediational Model of Consumption and Self-Concept. Journal Of Research On Adolescence (Wiley-Blackwell), 20(3), 616-630. doi:10.1111/j.1532-7795.2010.00651.x