“American teenagers spend 31 hours a week watching TV, 17 hours a week listening to music, 3 hours a week watching movies, 4 hours a week reading magazines, 10 hours a week online. that’s a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes of media consumption a day.” (Miss Representation film, 2011) In the film Miss Representation we can see how the media plays a vital and efficient role on the lives of teenagers as a whole.
The media brings a lot and different messages to the population and around the globe. The power that media has over us is something that we should worry about, to the point that it could control our lives and shape our society. Media shapes politics, education, feelings, forms of stereotypes, etc. The different type of platforms allows the exposure of teens to any type of content; which can have an impact on the teen’s live. Today we are exposed to a lot of different social media platforms (snapchat, Instagram, twitter, etc.) All these types of social platforms portray messages that affect our lives as individuals of these society.
Since the moment they are born, girls are told that their appearance is the main think they should worry about and boys, they learn that this is what they should look for in a girl. Since girls are little we constantly tell them how cute and pretty they are; we compare them to princess and ballerinas, highlighting their physical qualities mainly. In the film, it is stated how “53% of 13 years old girls are unhappy with their bodies, this number increases to 78% by age 17. Also, 65% of women and girls have eating disorders and 17 % of teens engage in cutting and self-injurious behaviors.” (Miss Representation film, 2011)
The media is in charge to bring this concept of the perfect girl, which only discourage young women leading to depression because they cannot look the way media portray these women. Today technology has reach new limits, and every day we see the pictures of models that are constantly photo-shopped. This only encourage girls to compare themselves to these computerized models, creating an impossible concept of beauty. Furthermore, guys are exposed to the pictures of these supermodels and they then think that in order to be beautiful, women need to look like the ones in TV.
According to the film “Miss Representation”, the advertising industry controls pretty much the entire media. The way advertising works is that they make you feel as if you need the product that is being advertised. For example: The way they advertise cars is always more based on stories that revolve around a man trying to impress the girl on a date or a man obtaining power when driving the car. For women, advertisement revolves around the concept that they are never beautiful enough. In all types of social media platforms, we see the same body type and the same makeup routine; creating a model which women think they should shadow. They constantly are trying to find the way to look like the girls on the makeup or skin care commercials. As a consequence, this only benefits the companies promoting products because the purchase of the products rises and they gain money from the insecurities of women.
According to the film, in a study that was conducted; women spend more money and time in beauty products and trying to look good than their own education. I think this fact is something we should worry about. Advertising has made us believe that we need beauty products in order to look beautiful. Makeup tutorials always promote the “best makeup products”, which are extremely expensive. They make women believe that certain products are just necessary and will do a much better job; however, they are just making a profit out of all of this.
Another key point that the video mentions is that, not only are girls seemed as objects by others, they learn to see themselves as objects. Self-objectification is defined as, when individuals see themselves as objects instead of human beings. The increase of self-objectification among women has a devastation effect on them. When girls see themselves as just an object according to the film, “the more likely they are to be depressed, to have eating disorders, to have lower confidence, lower ambition, lower cognitive functioning, lower GPAs.” (Miss Representation, 2011.)
All of these connects to women representation in leadership of our country. Women who self-objectify themselves have no possibility to believe their voice matters in politics and that they can bring change in the world. If self-objectification keeps growing in our society then women would become less likely to take part in politics and leadership. Furthermore, it could reduce the probability of women participating in elections and going to vote. This goes back to the concept of women in media, and how it is teaching young girls that their bodies and beauty is the only important thing, which will only discourage young girls to raise their voices and participate in politics. According to the film “Women make 53% of the population, yet comprise only 17% of Congress. Only 34 women have served as governors, compared to 2319 men” (Miss Representation, 2011) It is ironic how in a democracy, we still have this type of underrepresentation and gender inequality. There is a quote that the film shows, “you can’t be what you can’t see.” (Miss representation, 2011). If girls don’t see women in leadership position the they won’t be exposed to the possibility that they can also make a change. If there are no lawyer or governor Barbie dolls for the girls to play, then they are going to grow up in a society where leadership positions are something women should not be part of. They will always think that women should only be worried about they look and appearance.
In addition, there are few films and television shows that portray powerful women, however the situation in Hollywood is not very common. When you look at Hollywood and the movies produced we can see stereotypes being portrayed, which we tend to believe they are true for everyone. Not many protagonist’s films are women. Most movies are about the lives of a men and how they save the galaxy or find their destiny. Moreover, there is a different genre that tends to portray the lives of women revolving around a certain male figure. It is always the girl falling in love with a guy or trying to find true love. When we see the female leaders in movies they are created with so many stereotypes; as an example, we see the mean boss that only cares about work and her life revolves around that.
Throughout the media we see how women are self-objectified and used mainly as a sex object. An example of this is women portrayed as superheroes; even though they are leaders and are the protagonist of the story and she is doing everything on her own. They are still created for the enjoyment of male viewers. In action movies, we see the girl superhero wearing really provocative clothes and having a perfect body. We can also recall male characters in the movies referring to the female as “hot or sexy.” There are rare occasions where they focus on her intelligence or the way she gets things done.
Surprisingly, we can also see the self-objectification of women in the news. Many shows dedicate their time to focus on what a certain journalist was wearing and how her legs were showing instead of what she was actually saying. Gossip columns and tabloids are mainly about women’s lives. Gossips in Hollywood are mostly based on women situations. There is always the pressure that women need to look a certain way in front of the camera; women have to apply makeup, do her hair in order to look “presentable” in front of the audience. This creates a debate among the viewers, but not on the news being delivered or the consistency of the information, instead about the outfit or makeup of the female reporting the news.
There is this false stereotype that women are more emotional than men. Therefore, this leads people to believe that women are not able to efficiently handle a difficult situation, with rational thinking; which makes others believe women are not designed for leadership. Every time a woman is in leadership, it is often seen as something negative and something that would cause problems. An example of this is Hillary Clinton, when running for leadership she was neutral and didn’t show femininity instead she portrayed herself as strong and she lost her campaign, she was also criticized based on her personality. On the other hand, Sarah Palin brings a different image portraying femininity and they make fun of her, making reference only to the way she looks like; being objectified again by the media and mainly focusing on her appearance rather than the substance of her words.
It is evident that women are misrepresented in media, but who are the people behind that are making these crucial decisions about what we see? The media has always been in the hands of men. Very few directors, photographers and writers are women. “The average number of new stories about women and girls is less than 20%” according to Miss Representation, 2011. In the film, they mention the term symbolic annihilation to describe the absence of representation, or underrepresentation, of some group of people in the media. According to the film, there is this false assumption that women would only watch stories about men. Therefore, all decisions are based on that fact, which is not proven right. The media has the power to change the status quo and actually make a change. However, it chooses to follow those stereotypes and false assumptions in our society. According to the film, this has been the first time in history where the market of advertising and media has controlled so much lives in our society
Rules that control advertising have been more relaxed. Therefore, more graphic content is being released to attract males from certain ages. They assume that it is harder to get men to watch television, so they use these provocative material as a way to encourage men to watch more television. We see all the time in videogames, movies music videos how women are being objectified and treated inferior. How do we expect our young guys to respect women if they don’t see their parents doing it, if they don’t see it in the media, instead they are exposed to every kind of information that objectifies women?
“The mask you live in”
“He wears a mask and his face grows to fit it” George Orwell (from The Mask You Live In, 2011). What it means to be a man is portrayed and expressed in different ways, usually the idea that of being weak or emotionally is associated with girls and gay. Therefore, since they are little boys, men tend to be always proving their masculinity. The idea of masculinity in our society is basically a guy that is strong, practices some kind of sports, has power and success, etc. This aspect put boys in these little boxes where if you don’t fulfil the requirements then you are seen as weak and therefore you’re not men enough., which leads to insecurities among guys. However, guys don’t express this type of emotions. Since they are little they are told that they can’t be afraid, also that man don’t cry and don’t talk about their feelings. They learn this from their homes, parents, education system, their culture and media. Most of the time we associate masculinity with sports and ability to be good in a physical aspect. We also associate masculinity with sexual conquest, which is something that objectifies women. In our society if a guy has sexual relationships with many women then he is seemed as “cool” and as a real man.
According to the film, man and woman are seem as totally different creatures in the curse of humanity. Before a child is born, just knowing the sex of the baby parents start thinking very different just based on the sex. If it is a girl her clothes are pastel and delicate colors, they start buying her dolls and cooking sets; however, if is a boy, they get him cars, balls, and all the considered toys for guys. Media and television play a role on this as well. We see this in many movies, where the boys are humiliated by his parents because he is a mama boy. This creates the stigma that being close to your mother is humiliating and a sign of weakness. However, girls are not seen this way.
As I mentioned before, guys don’t show much empathy; because they have been educated in a society where showing emotions is synonym of being weak and not manly. “According to a study 1 in 4 boys report being bullied at school, only 30% of those who are bullied notify adults.” (The Mask You Live In, 2016) This fact only probes that even though boys are being bullied and treated bad by other kids they don’t want to tell adult. Their pride means everything and they are afraid they would be categorized as tattle tale and therefore, he would be bullied even more.
The mind of a boy changes constantly according to the film. During the ages of 12 and 14, boys create many friendships and they are really close to their friends, and they tell them everything that happens to them. By the 16 and 17, these relationship change; now they start talking about betrayal and no needing a friend. Therefore, guys become emotionally constipated; where showing any kind of emotion or sympathy is associated with woman or being gay. As a result of this, boys tend to drink and take drugs as an escape of these rules society has placed on them, where they need to be this rock and can’t express emotions. They use the excuse of being drunk to hug friends and tell them how much you love them. Furthermore, most of the time between boys having sex, drinking and doing drugs is expected. This is also associated to how they define masculinity and by doing this they think they are more of a man. Another reason that boys drink or take drugs is to treat their loneliness. Since they don’t show emotions and don’t have close relationships, alcohol or drugs are a way for them to alleviate their pain and forget about what is going on their lives.
It is a fact that teenagers have a higher rate of suicide and are more vulnerable to commit suicide than any other individual in society. However, most people would think that it is mostly girls. Depression is mainly defined as being quiet, not engaging in any activity. Therefore, we think that this is always the case. However, when boys are depressed they tend to act totally different. Being aggressive and cursing out people, going against the rules and showing rebellion. Which are behaviors that we often just associate with conduct problems or “he is just acting out.” This is way there are so many suicides by man, because there is no way someone can know a guy is depressed and they don’t reach for help.
Statistic in the film, show how compared to young females, boys are more likely to fail exams, drop out of school, and be diagnosed with ADHD. They also have higher rates of being spelled or suspended. However, we don’t try to find out the reason why this child is acting out. Instead we punish them and place labels on them.
On the other hand, we have this myth in the United States where every sports build character. However, unless the coach of the team takes time to build character and teach the teammates to be respectable and honorable man then the sport by itself won’t teach them anything. Most of the time, masculinity is being displayed through sports, military, law enforcement in the media and advertising industry. Those man, young boys look up to teach mainly power, aggression and domination. Boys are exposed to video games, that only teach young boys to be more aggressive and that they need to be in control. If the boy playing these videogames doesn’t have friends, then these games provide him a place where they can be the hero of the story; it can give them authority and a sense of dominance while playing
Men, as well as women are portrayed in media in different ways. First, there is the guy that is really quiet and doesn’t show any sign of emotion. We also have the superhero character, that is exposed to activities that are very risky and uses violence to destroy the bad guys and obtain his goals. We also have the thug, which is displayed mainly by men of color who are engaged in more violent roles and that had to do with criminal activity. And then we have the man child, which is the man who doesn’t have a perfect body with muscles however shows masculinity in other ways through the degradation of women, engaging in high risk activities. All of this has an effect on our behavior and the way we see individuals in our society.
All this stereotypes about male characters that are exposed in Hollywood are also seen in pop culture. A lot of rappers are imitating what they see as masculinity. Making songs about getting money, women and power are popular in today’s society. Women bodies are seen as a sexual object and the amount of disrespect to women in those songs is unbelievable.
In the film, it is also discussed how we have created a rape society. Teenage boys are exposed to an extremely high amount of pornography. Most of the pornography that boys are being exposed to possess an incredible high amount of brutality and violence. Teenagers who haven’t had any sexual experience, think that this is the way women should be treated.
Both films brought up the message of how men and women are seen in our society. How the role of media plays an important and key part on the development of stereotypes in our society. The way women and men are both portrayed has an effect on our generation and I think that the development of these stereotypes should stop. We are human beings and I don’t think there should be a superior gender. Women should not be objectified and treated as a trophy, they should not be judge by their bodies and their worth shouldn’t be defined by the false concept of beauty. On the other hand, men should be able to express their feelings and instead of being emotionally constipated they should be able to create long lasting relationships and not being judge by that. I think that if we all start respecting each other and treating others with respect then our society will change in a way never seen before. Both films do a great job portraying the idea that what we see in media has a great effect in our society and in our lives individually.