The Portrayal of Women in the Media

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Re: The Portrayal of Women in the Media

Postby Esme echo » Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:39 am

GrayceM wrote: . . . there is always going to be a percentage of the population who are lunatics and aren't in their rational minds.

This just cracks me up, GrayceM! . . . but so true, so true!

When I think about society being influenced by media, I think primarily of video and magazine -- not of radio or newspaper (the latter of which seems almost obsolete!). In my mind, video (movies, advertising, television, YouTube, etc.) is so powerful because it combines music and eye candy to sway emotion and perception. If producers could figure out how to add smell to video -- we're toast! :lol:

The greater problem, I think, is the general lack of foundational values, critical analysis, and integrity in our population. The person who mindlessly allows his/her perceptions to be guided by popular media is pitiful. Anyone read The Hunger Games? What an example of social dysfunction!

I think an important job of parents today is to teach their children to view media objectively, measure the media message against the family's foundational values, and resist the temptation to think that just because the media portrays something, that something is common, or desirable, or should even be tolerated.

I'm always sad when media gets out of control, because it tells me that people are heeding it -- instead of evaluating it.
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Re: The Portrayal of Women in the Media

Postby GrayceM » Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:05 am

Agree completely, Esme echo.

My Father's saying of "Don't believe everything you see on TV" has turned into my "Don't believe everything you see on the Internet". Everything that a child sees on TV, hears on the radio, sees on Youtube or hears from their friends at school is taken as gospel. You have to be the one who teaches your child to question what seems out of character or "too good to be true".
As a child, I remember thinking that we, Americans, didn't need to be underground if we were invisible in regards to the Pledge of Allegiance. What I heard didn't make sense without explanation. I had never read the words so I didn't know that it actually said "One nation. Under God. Indivisible." and just saying it didn't really explain anything. I must have said it every morning at school until I was 11 or 12 before I really started to realize what I was saying and what it meant. :oops:

I know many parents who restrict what their children watch on TV, hear on the radio, and don't even think about getting on a computer unless they are sitting right there with them...
It should be enough to teach your children what you believe and your values and then let them make their own choices on most things. If we have raised our children to question what they are told and make rational informed decisions, when needed, they will be able to survive in a world full of false advertising, and will be able to distinguish reality from fiction.
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Re: The Portrayal of Women in the Media

Postby Esme echo » Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:24 am

Yes, but children (and some adults!) need constant reinforcement, reminders, and attention! Their reality changes so quickly; things that weren't all that important last week are critical to them today -- and they may not have been listening last week!

I'm not really a "teach them and let them go" kind of parent . . . I'm more of a "teach them and monitor daily" sort of mother! At least, I keep my eyes open, don't assume my children are doing what I think [hope] they are, and I try to spend a lot of time with them. (Blessings on Skype! It's a great way to stay in touch with those who've moved out!)

Back to media: what role does self-esteem play in someone's response to media messages?
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Re: The Portrayal of Women in the Media

Postby marielle » Thu Oct 07, 2010 2:56 pm

Openhome wrote:First question, just to get us started...

When you think about the messages that we are bombarded with every day from the media, are they positive or negative? What makes them good or bad?[b]


I think it's very good that they show the stronger side of us women, but I think it gives the idea that we don't need men anymore...and as much as I like that idea...really what would we be without being able to love our men, what would women be if they didn't every now and then needed a man to hold her in his arms, to let her cry on his shoulder and most importantly remove the spiders from your house...
Yes it's good that they are stearing toward the strong and selfefficient woman, but don't forget in all movies and books these women had a strong man standing either behind her or next to her...

Openhome wrote:[b]What about the messages that your children are given?

I thinkit's good for young girls to be shown that they can do anything in life, that they can become everything they want...but I think that some books and movies are pushing the limits really far...
Harry Potter shows kids that sometimes doing to right thing is the hardest and most difficult, but you have to remind them that magic doesn't exist like that (not that we muggles know off at least)
Twilight shows young girls that they don't have to setlle for mister-not-just-right, but I think Edward gives them a false idea of what mister right should be...

Openhome wrote:What is the last truly positive thing you read, heard or saw in the media, and how did it affect your life?

I honestly can't remember... all things I read or heard have impact on my life...if I like it or not...
one of the big things was reading the Avalon serie and finding in it my religion...something I have believed in from the age of 9 was written on those pages and that make me feel very good...
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Re: The Portrayal of Women in the Media

Postby Chernaudi » Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:49 pm

Talk about disrespect: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/ar ... inson.html

The article was pretty dispectful towards Kristen, and omits facts and even the photo they used was edited. I'm tired of this "you're a girl dating the most sought-after guy in H'wood" crap. And you can bet that if/when he read this, that Rob wasn't too happy, either.

By the way, the Daily Mail is a UK tabloid. They'd have us believe that the Morris Marina and the Austin Allegro were the best British cars ever made. However, anyone who's own or reseached them will tell you that they're damn near the worst cars ever made, period.

Talk about spin...
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Re: The Portrayal of Women in the Media

Postby pyrosis » Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:31 pm

very interesting thread. I am actually writing my thesis about how TV influences societie's contruction of gender and what can be done about it.

First of all: How is a woman supposed to be? How are men supposed to be? What is male and what is female? My theorie (and not only mine) is that gender is a cultural contruction. Just because I am woman I don't have to like children, love decorating, shopping, be sensitive, a good listener and love gossip. But am I less woman because I like working with timber, do things that are conciderd reckelss and don't mind getting my shoes dirty, because I'd never ever wear high heels?
Are the things we define as typical male or female really gender related? I say no! And if we look at other cultures and into history it is true. Gender expectations have changed. And they continue to. I say the way we act as men and women is how we are brought up and educated.

But a lot of things, little things that we don't even notice anymore because they seem natural to us are gender related. Men and women talk differently, they hold their body differently, they behave differently, and they behave differently when they are interacting with men and women.
We could say that that is just natural, because we have 2 genders, men and women, and they have to be different, it is nature. But I think it is not, I think it is culture.
We could also say that being different is not a bad thing, because everyone is different. I agree. But in this case it gives one group power and the other group has to suffer from that. Sure the "suffering" got less for most women in the western/northern part of the world. But we are a long way vom equality. We know that women still don't get paid the same, that it is harder for them to find an good job in the first place, because they might get a baby and have to pause, mostly women are victims of sexual abuse and rape etc etc...
But the system of only 2 genders excludes many people who don't fit in those patterns or schemes. I am talking about intersexual and transexual people. But also about men and women who are not as male or female as society wants them to be. There is a man who walks a bit funny or loves men instead of women. There is a woman who has a beard or short hair and wears hiking boots. There are millions of people who don't fit...

But I think that media is not really THE problem. It is one, maybe even only a symptom. We learn how to behave, how to interact with other people, what is male what is female from day one we are on this planet, probarbly even before that. I am quite sure that a mother behaves differently as soon as she knows what gender her child will be. Nurses and childminders behave differently when they are dealing with boys and girls and at the age of three you can already see differences in girl's and boys's behavior. Boys are more cometetive, girls look after each other and play together. That's of course just a generalisation, because every child is different but research has found out that these are the general tendencies. So our parents, kindergarten, school, friends and media teach us how they and the majority of society see the world and of course we go along with what they say, because if everybody says it, it can't be so wrong.

And media just reproduces the pictures, the roles of men and women that are already present in our heads. Of course they show them in the extremest ways and make those pictures only stronger and influence us even more. But they can only do that because we give them the power to do that. They can only sell what people buy. As long as we watch what they present, they will continue to do so. We as customers have to remind ourselves of our power. That is one reason why I got rid of TV years ago. I don't want to support that nonsense anymore and I don't want to be influenced by it anymore. Some of my friends did the same. If I really want to know what's going on there are so many independent websites, where I can read the news. I can get most movies on DVD etc...

So I think it is not only the media's fault that they show women in ways we don't agree with.It is also our fault, because we let them.

But I do see the problem that there are too many people who are not aware of this issue or simply ignore it because it is easier. But I still don't want to give in, because it is also me who is in a disadvantage because of her gender, I want to be worth as much as my male friends, have the same chances in life and get the same respect as they do. And even if I don't benefit from my fight in this life, hopefuly someones daughters will.

Sorry, that was really long, I didn't even say half of what I wanted to say but it really is a matter that hit's home and bothers me a lot...
You know, Edward, as a brother you are sometimes a dissappointment

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Then the jokes about the world's only clumsy vampire would start

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Re: The Portrayal of Women in the Media

Postby Esme echo » Fri Dec 17, 2010 3:05 pm

pyrosis, I don't agree that gender is defined by the culture, but behavior certainly is. One thing you didn't address in your post was the reality that in our culture, some very wealthy people dedicate a lot of time and money into reshaping our cultural perceptions to agree with their own opinions. You did touch on the laziness many people exhibit--by mindlessly drinking in media messages and believing what they see there is the "norm." It is not. Many actors and activists behind the scenes are doing all they can to influnce culture to move towards a less traditional, more "progressive" direction.

I believe the confusion concerning gender roles vs. behavior is based on adult misbehavior. If every adult--especially every parent--behaved with integrity, consideration, and love for others, treating every individual with respect, reserving judgment when they didn't understand another's actions . . . well, children would find themselves being valued for who they were, not who their parents expected them to become.

It's a Utopian perspective, I know. But I'd rather start there, than overhauling traditional values that have endured the test of time.
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Re: The Portrayal of Women in the Media

Postby pyrosis » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:18 pm

I think everything is defined by culture or better language. You kind of get a sense for that when you speak more than one language. Some things have a different meaning and or different value in other languages than you own.
What I mean is:
Just because some decides that a bed is a bed doesn't mean it is a bed for everyone else. Show your bed to someone who only slept on straw their whole life and they might not understand what that thing meant for. There is a differens between a word and it's actual meaning. The word ist just the compacted description of something. The word excludes several attributes, it let's you know what the thing you are talking about is not a lot of things and there fore it is what it is....
Okay a simple example: the word VAMPIRE
the word vampire tells you that the person someone is talking about is clearly different from a human: doesn't eat, doesn't go out in sunlight, is faster than a human, is prettier than a human. And because it is so different from a human, because it is clearly not human, we need a new word for it, that describes all these differences.
So the meaning of a word is created by people. And that meaning can change. I don't have an English example for that but I'd know a lot of German words...
So what I am trying to say is that reality is created by language. And therefor everything biological is defined by culture, by people and so is gender.
I know that is very philosophical and abstract. And I don't know if I explained what I meant well. But if you want to know more i can recommend Michel Foucault and Judith Butler.

I agree that the people who have the power are the ones who make the rules and try to keep their power. And if it comes to media of course they try to sell us their products in a way that makes it almost impossible not to belive. And the ones who have the power define what is "good" and "bad" or "right" and "wrong".
The problem here is that in many important positions you will find men. To explain why that is how it is would take an own threat I guess...
So if we go back to media it means, that most script writers are male, most directors, most producers, most TV channels are owned my men. So they decide what picture of men and women we get to see. And I am sure that a lot of those guys don't mean to discriminate women, they are most of the time not aware that they are doing it, because even a lof of women don't even see that.

Of course the world would be different if parents would treat their children different, but even as a person who is aware of a lot of things I know I would have a hard time living and teaching my ideals, because there is so much pressure by society and I was raised in this society and can't shake it off. That doesn't mean I don't try and I try to share my opinion with other people to give them the chance to learn and see and for myself to lean and see.

I guess the best thing an actor can do to help to break the rules of gender roles is to play characters that are different...
You know, Edward, as a brother you are sometimes a dissappointment

Oh, never mind! my less noble side exulted

Then the jokes about the world's only clumsy vampire would start

'Bout time someone scored around here
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Re: The Portrayal of Women in the Media

Postby Chernaudi » Fri Dec 17, 2010 11:10 pm

As I've said before, it's all about media spin and what not. It's as Cher said once, you can tell the truth all you want, but some people won't believe it because either they're set in their ways or chose to ignore it/can't handle it.

That's the power of the media, and it's a double edged sword. I think that we need more women and celebs like Kristen--people who speak their minds but know to keep certian things to themselves. On one end, she's admired for taking control over her life and what not, but on the other, she's criticized and subject to name-calling and ridicule for the same reasons.

It's there that we must ask ourselves what we want, and whether or not society at large is right or wrong.
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Re: The Portrayal of Women in the Media

Postby Esme echo » Sat Dec 18, 2010 7:12 pm

Well, pyrosis, we approach this issue with two very different perspectives. My perspective is that our lives did not begin when we were born, and will not end when we die; that gender is something we brought with us to this existence, it is not something defined by the culture we happen to be born in; and right and wrong are always right and wrong, regardless of the century one is born in, the current cultural thought, or philosophy dreamed up by men (or women).

Some people think that because they are highly "educated" their opinions should be regarded with respect. I do not accept that standard of wisdom; morality and integrity mean a lot more to me than a person's ideas of how valuable social mores appear to them and what they think is most important in relationships, etc. Experience has shown me that the "world" doesn't know a single thing about what leads to true peace and happiness in our lives--which is, after all, what we all seek.

A simple example: I read some time ago that science has discovered when people do good things, "their minds light up in quiet joy." In other words, physically, there is a beneficial effect when one does good things. DUH. How interesting that this concept, which has existed for millennia, can now be accepted by some people only because science now "confirms" it.

Pushing the envelope on decency is what media is all about, unfortunately. It USED to be about informing the public on issues. Now, we have to know the source, know the author's political leanings, read articles from several different sides of an issure, and then do our best to make an educated guess. It's sad we can't just depend on getting a true, unbiased opinion.

What does all this have to do with how women are portrayed in the media? Nothing is important to media except selling their product, whether that product is a service, idea, or merchandise. Women and social reform are not important, unless that is what the media is selling. The bottom line is, MEDIA DOES NOT CARE--they exist to sell.

The only thing that will change how women are portrayed in the media is if that portrayal is hurting their sales. But, as long as there are people (a majority, in fact, to our shame) who accept obsene, suggestive portrayals of women in the media, they will continue to be portrayed that way; and continue to spiral downward, till people reject the message. I don't think the time--when people in general reject objectivation of women--will happen any time soon. Never, if some people have their way. Take a look at how big the pornography industry is in the United States. It is HUGE. Way bigger than any other industry.
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