3 November 2013
The Ways Media Portrays Women
Throughout today’s society, media contributes to almost everyone’s daily life. From informative news channels to comical television shows, media proves to be effective in advertisement, releasing messages and informing the audience. Although media proves to be wildly effective in advertising, releasing messages and informing the audience, periodically destructive and misleading messages are provided to the audience and directly influencing women. Cultural critics widely agree that media tends to negatively influence women and all the critics point to research which supports the belief that women are portrayed as subordinate to men, having no self control and having little self confidence in themselves. In addition, the media often identifies women as an object.
Throughout media, women are hardly ever portrayed as the main focus or character in a television show, advertisement, cartoon or novel. Although media producers would avoid admitting to portraying women in such a way, Katha Pollitt in the “Smurfette Principle” clearly agrees and states; “I came across not a single network cartoon or puppet show starring a female” (545). Through the examples of various children’s television shows, Pollitt argues that women are minor to men and that even children are catching onto the media’s feminist ways. Pollitt then discusses what she calls the “smurfette principle” which is when a certain male character or group of men will be accented by a single woman character. Not only is Pollitt the only critic that agrees that women are hardly ever portrayed as the main focus or character, but scholar Carmen D. Siering takes a position on this topic as well. In Carmen D. Siering’s “Taking a Bite out of Twilight,” Siering uses an informative tone to discuss the feminist issue that evolves in the popular young adult novel Twilight. As Siering introduces the characters in her article she states: “...Bella Swan- by all accounts a very average human girl- has two suitors. . . one is the unimaginable beautiful vampire Edward, the other a loyal and devoted werewolf, Jacob” (438). Although Siering lists Bella as a character, the simple degrading fact that Bella has two suitors that are both male provides that Bella is a part of the “smurfette principle;” part of the unfolding story, but only accenting the two men. Despite the fact that Siering and Pollitt use different examples of media both critics take a stance in agreeing that women are in fact portrayed as the main focus in media.
Despite the fact that women are very rarely portrayed as the main character or main focus in media, another problem women face is that media generates the idea that women have no self control and cannot make decisions on their own. In “Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt,” Jean Kilbourne uses various amounts and examples of advertisements that degrade and put shame upon women. Through the use of advertisements, Kilbourne agrees that advertisements provide the idea that women cannot make decisions on their own by issuing, “Ad after ad implies that girls and women don’t really mean “no” when they say it, that women are only teasing when they resist men’s advances” (462). Even though Kilbourne does not explicitly state that women cannot make their own decisions, the simple shameful advertisement that depicts a women who doesn’t mean no when she is trying to resist a man that is pressuring her into having sexual affairs, provides the message that women cannot make their own decisions because the man pressuring her believes that a woman won’t make the decision. Aside from the fact that the advertisements Kilbourne provides prove that the media sends a message that women cannot make their own decisions, but Carmen D. Siering also proves that in addition to a woman not capable of making her own decisions, a woman also has no self control. In Siering’s article “Taking a Bite out...
Cited: Blum, Virginia. “Love My Neighbors, Hate Myself: The Vicissitudes of Affect in Cosmetic Surgery.” From Inquiry to Academic Writing. Ed Stuart Greene and April Lidinsky. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. 545-47. Print.
Kilbourne, Jean. “Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt”: Advertising and Violence.” From Inquiry to Academic Writing. Ed Stuart Greene and April Lidinsky. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. 545-47. Print.
O’Reilly, Julie. “The Wonder Woman Precedent: Female (Super) Heroism on Trial.” From Inquiry to Academic Writing. Ed Stuart Greene and April Lidinsky. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. 545-47. Print.
Pollitt, Katha. “The Smurfette Principle.” From Inquiry to Academic Writing. Ed Stuart Greene and April Lidinsky. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. 545-47. Print.
Siering, Carmen. “Taking a Bite out of Twilight.” From Inquiry to Academic Writing. Ed Stuart Greene and April Lidinsky. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. 545-47. Print.
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