Megan Garber Professor Keltner Composition 1 3 November 2013 The Ways Media Portrays Women Throughout todays 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 ends 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; “l came across not a single etwork 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. Sierings “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 rinciple;” 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 atter 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 ake 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 Sierings article “Taking a Bite out of Twilight,” Siering states, “Bella, on the other hand, is never able to do the same. From their very first kiss, she is fighting to control her awakening sexuality’ (439). Siering states this in her article as she is breaking down female sexuality in the novel, Twilight. The simple fact in her statement is that Bella cannot resist Edward and cannot control her sexuality and lust for him.
Both Siering and Kilbourne relate to each other through different forms of writing by implicitly agreeing that media portrays women as if they cannot make their own decisions and that women have no self control. Although the media generates the idea that women have no self control, the media also provokes the misleading idea that women have no self confidence in themselves. Through the various messages and ideas that advertisement, television shows, cartoons and even books sell- women tend to lose self confidence in themselves, but the media tends to send the message that women already have no self confidence.
In “Love My Neighbors, Hate Myself: The Vicissitudes of Affect in Cosmetic Surgery,” Virginia Blum opens up her articles with an observation about the sudden rise in the number of popular television shows about plastic surgery and the shift of increasing numbers of women that receive plastic surgery. In her article regarding the reasons women desire plastic surgery, Blum states, ” .. certain conventional cultural values had to be recruited on behalf of representing these surgeries not as vain and superficial but as a route toward glowing self improvement, not as acts of self- loathing but as evidence of self esteem” (802).
Although Blum never apparently states that women have no self confidence in themselves, the audience gathers and concludes that women receive plastic surgery to help boost their self confidence and that it is socially acceptable and normal to allow image to determine self confidence. Besides Blum’s article, another scholar, Jean Kilbourne, lso relates her thoughts and seems to agree that media portrays a woman as if she has no self confidence. In her article, Kilbourne is pointing out the shameful difference in the way society views a group of men between the way society views a group of women.
Kilboure expresses in her article, “For men, though, there are no such consequences. Men’s bodies are not routinely Judged and invaded” (467). As Kilbourne relates this expression in her article, it proves to the audience that society and media has a harsher critical opinion of the appearance of women in comparison o the appearance of a man that decreases the self confidence of a woman. Virginia Blum and Jean Kilbourne both effectively distribute their beliefs and relate to each other in terms that women nave no selt confidence in themselves through the use ot reality television shows and popular young adult novels.
Furthermore in relation to the influence of women through media, the media also identifies women as if they are merely an object. This misleading message that media portrays lies directly in television shows that include cartoons and superheros and even young adult novels such as Twilight. In Julie O’ Reillys article, “The Wonder Woman Precedent: Female (Super) Heroism on Trial,” O’ Reilly argues the distinctions between the ways male and female superheros are put to the test in their respective characters.
While discussing the struggles women have to struggle to pass to attain the satisfaction of even becoming a superhero, O’ Reilly states, “The trials serve as a periodic repositioning of super-powered women from the active subjects they must be in order to function as heroes to the more passive–or at least submissive–ob]ects they must become to undergo these trials” (452). In this statement, O’ Reilly is arguing that women are in fact an object. Carmen D.
Siering also agrees with O’ Reillys statement in her article ” Taking a Bite out of Twilight” and decides to include that, “Bella is a prize, not a person, someone to whom things happen, not an active participant in the unfolding story’ (439). Siering provides her example in her article as she sets up the unfolding story of Twilight. Not only do Siering and O’ Reilly relate in agreement, but so do the scholars Katha Pollitt and Jean Kilbourne. Although the scholars use different types of media to agree that women are identified as merely an object, all four of the scholars effectively agree and prove their points.
In Katha Pollitt’s, “The Smurfette Principle,” Pollitt claims, “… boys are individuals, girls types” (545). Pollitt issues her claim as she issues the degrading truth that boys are the “norm” and girls are the “variation” to prove that women are not in the same classification as men. In addition to prove the scholar’s agreements upon women portrayed as an object, Jean Kilbourne explains in her article that violence can be justified more easily if a person becomes an object. Kilbourne then states: “The person becomes an object and violence is inevitable. The step is already taken with women” (466).
Kilbourne issues this claim as she verifies that objectification leads to violence and that women are already objectified, therefore violence is already “inevitable. ” Through exemplification, the four scholars agree that women are in fact identified in media as merely an object in todays society. Throughout media and the history of media, misleading and destructive messages have been sold to the audience. Although the media tends to negatively influence women in the beliefs that women are portrayed as subordinate to men, having no self control and having little self confidence in themselves, a bigger problem may be rising.
As media seems to portray women in this way now, what effect will the media have on little girls and will they even be given a chance to identify themselves before the media destructs them as well? 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.