Sex in Society
Sex plays a major role in today's society. From television, radio, music, and advertisements, to video games, the Internet, and even art and pictures, all forms of media use sex to help sell their products. With the public being exposed to so many different types, the overuse and exploitation of sex is common. Is sex a useful tool, or a ploy to get the attention of the public?
Before discussing sex in the media, one must understand why it has come to be that people use sex as a gimmick. "The writing of modern history has resulted in a viewpoint that is nothing short of a stag party. The history of women is ignored, hushed up, and censored in the most literal sense of the term. This method of eliminating the social and political destiny of half of humanity is the most effective form of supremacy." (Janssen-Jurreit, 1982, pp. 15-16) The world we live in today is still man-made, no less now then in the nineteenth century. Eve Zaremba states in Privilege of Sex: "Women's self-awareness as females has until very recently reflected the world's (i.e. men's) image of them; how well their personal performance matched male expectations." As English Canadians began to develop an identity in 19th century society, they mirrored the "ideals" for women of the Victorian period: gentility, weakness, ignorance and submissiveness. (Zaremba, 1974, p. i ) These individual roles, as described by Oneill and Leone in Male/Female Roles: Opposing Viewpoints as the relationship of a man or woman to society on the basis of gender, became essential in shaping male and female attitudes towards one another. Over the past twenty years remarkable changes in these traditional male and female roles have been witnessed. The subsequent impact on men, women, and families due to these changes is believed to be, by many social historians, caused by the re-emergence of the women's movement. (p.13) Though a positive alteration of roles has occurred, how is it that children of this century still may obey stereotypes?
"A baby is born knowing nothing, but full of potential." (p.19) Oneill and Leone believe that the process by which an individual becomes a creature of society, a socialized human being, reflects culturally defined roles and norms. The first crucial question asked by the parents of a newborn baby is "What is it? A boy or a girl?" (p.25) Other queries about attributes of health and physical conditions are only brought up afterwards, the first priority is to establish its sex. " Indeed, almost immediately, gender identity is permanently stamped on the child by the name it is given." (p.26) Recent research has established beyond a doubt that males and females are born with a different set of "instructions" built into their genetic code. Studies at Harvard University and elsewhere show that marked differences between male and female baby behaviour are already obvious in the first months of life. Females are more oriented towards people. Male infants, on the other hand, are more interested in "things." Stanford psychologists Karl Pribram and Dianne McGuinness conclude that women are "communicative" animals while men are "manipulative" animals. Some people believe this is hereditary, while others think that if boys and girls were brought up in exactly the same way then all behavioral differences between men and women would evaporate. (p.26)
Beginning in early adolescence, children develop their own ideas of male and female roles with the perception of the conduct and activities of his or her parents and other adults in their world, including characters on television. Young people are exposed to advertising from a very early age. The effect, says the Ontario Ministry of Education, especially of advertising on television, "has a significant bearing on girls' and boys' behaviour, and their aspirations. To most children the commercial message is another piece of information received from the television...
References: Carter, Micheal. (1996 July). Hard Sell. Economist 340 no 7976, p.53
Curtis, Sara. (1996 September). Marketers, broadcasters reject Copps ' sexism jibe. Marketing 101 no 33, p.6.
Holland, Daniel, (1996 April)
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