Sexism in the Media
Television and commercial advertising have been a dominating force for over sixty years, and people learn to specialize and are trained to create ads that entertain and provoke the viewer into buying certain products. The main purposes of commercials are to stand out from competitors, and to sell an idea or way of life for those who allow themselves to become influenced by the appeal.
Women and young girls are often subjected and greatly influenced by these advertisements, and many from an adolescent age will alter and pattern their lives to partially adhere to this televised fantasy. Often, some young girls use these forms of advertisements to psychologically change their views about themselves, and thus, may have an unhealthy attitude towards their body type or status in society. I would hope to analyze the effect that commercials have upon society, and how it can create a prejudice frame of mind through subtitle symbols.
Television commercials are an agent of socialization and have been used to persuade the viewer into voting for a certain president, stereotyping a certain ethnic group or race because of comical value, using sex to make a product look appealing, or learning what qualities in a beer is important. Yet, although such trivial information exists in commercials and would permeate the consciousness of Americans, certain girls and boys may see an advertisement that may cause harm and damage subconsciously.
Television commercials can mold individuals and “show and value diverse images as a way to enrich the imaginations, hopes, and dreams of girls and women raised in a culture in which advertising’s images are ubiquitous” (Yoder, Christopher, Holmes, 2008, p. 303). The commercial of the woman in the kitchen cleaning and cooking, or preforming some sort of female attributed work, will undermine and subject females in an unprofessional role and frame of mind. Furthermore, the emasculated ads that show men enjoying beer, driving SEXISM IN THE MEDIA 3
Race cars, or being successful in a fast pace professional environment shall also communicate another fantasy-reality that is absorbed into consumers psyche. Not to mention that both men and women will obviously see body images associated with their sex, and may form irreversible psychosis and eating disorders in hopes to attain what society sees as a proper sexy and healthy body. The recurring commercialized drilling of beautiful large breasted bony bodied females, and the muscular ripped stomached of the male shall create disorder and depression for those who don’t fit the mold.
The gender roles associated with advertisements are often prejudiced and stereotypical as I’ve stated previously. The woman “forges an intimate bond with her mop and find joy and happiness from their diet plans and diet sodas” are reasons why women are demeaned and disregarded as intelligent independent individuals in society (Yoder, Christopher, Holmes, 2008, p. 303). The stereotype used with advertisements geared towards men use sex, extreme imagery of sports or car relations, and oftentimes, “man sized” large burgers or cholesterol laden foods.
The Yoder, Christopher, Holmes, (2008) study foretold that men viewed relationships in commercials as “his beer drinking girlfriend agrees that he can date her roommate…and men…focuses on thin and sexualized images of women” (p. 303). Therefore, although I’ve noticed this is a small example of the sexist commercials in mainstream media, using the major sociological theories pertaining to a functionalist view can tell us that these commercials are needed to promote stability in society.
Perhaps, the functionalist can see that these commercials can manipulate the mind of the populace, through punishments and guilt, because of a lack of beauty, body image, and a fantasy of dream-like situations whereupon social order may be the result. The functionalists would see the reinforcing attributes of advertising and through SEXISM IN THE MEDIA 4 consensus, will create a stable and will organized society. In the macro level, reinforcements can be made in society through using these stereotypical and sexist messages.
The conflict perspective would see these cultural manipulations of society are a struggle between illusion and reality of societal life concerning the sexes. The male dominated production of commercials where the women are often shown in either a maternal homemaker image or the sexy young bikini clad imbecile displays an inequality on the screen, yet also a power struggle with actual reality. The sexism through subtle images, on the macro level, will thus cause inequality for women by not displaying them in roles of professionalism, power, and intellect.
Commercials have been found to “affect women’s specific aspirations regarding leadership and did so by activating gender stereotyping…short term exposure to traditional television advertisements muted women’s subsequent leadership aspirations” (Yoder, Christopher, Holmes, 2008 p. 303). Yet, on the other side of the spectrum, for those women who are seen displaying any form of power or control, would be seen as unattractive or ugly in appearance. The form of conflict and sexist media will maintain a way of thinking in corporations and workplaces, which will create disadvantages for women trying to get into professional positions.
The interactionist perspective would look into the micro portion of society and determine how media can influence the thinking of society and behavior of people who witness sexism daily on television, depending on how much television they watch. Yoder, Christopher, Holmes, (2008) conveys that “the more women reported watching television on an average day, the lower their net achievement scores” on the test that was evaluated (p. 308-09). The interaction of people and their behavior to each other because of the influence on sexist media is a common SEXISM IN THE MEDIA 5
Concern for interactionism through the symbolic and communicative meaning that people will convey in their daily activities. The way human being act in society often mirror what they see in the media, and believe it to be the proper way of thinking and living. Oftentimes, we witness people who may have a fascination with a celebrity and would want to act or look in the same fashion; we can see this by the sales of magazines which publicize people of fame in the entertainment industry.
The interactionist must use observation, secondary sources, and experiments to best acquire the knowledge necessary to gather the proper information. Human beings are so easily influenced and want to be apart of the normal or popular structure of society, and media through television is an excellent example of a manipulating tool in which to conform people into the ideals of society. People are conditioned to behave a certain way by watching or mimicking what they see, and oftentimes, it can have discouraging effects upon women and the way people perceive themselves.
We must practice good judgment in television programming, movies, music, or any form of media we choose to allow into our lives and especially our children’s lives. Commercials are oftentimes something we cannot control, because even though we monitor what our children watch, commercials cannot be controlled or monitored during program breaks. The commercial media through big business and politics are changing our perceptions of the way we see ourselves, and how we treat other people in society, such as our peers.
In the view of people in control of television programs and news; women are objectified and placed into a sexist role pertaining to entertaining society with their beauty rather than their intelligence. According to Potter (2007), regarding news programs, “it’s a boys’ club…they still look at women as sex objects” (p. 75). Opinions of the male dominated network news are sexist too and are concurrent with ideas spread throughout mainstream media and SEXISM IN THE MEDIA 6 commercial advertising. CNN president Jon Klein, regarding his new anchorwoman, conveyed that “one look at her tells you why she deserves the slot”.
Les Moonves of NBC, in an answer to why the news ratings for Katie Couric was failing, was that “there’s an automatic assumption on the part of a certain people that they would rather get the news from a man” foretells society that women are indeed sex objects and are chosen for their looks or sexuality and not their intellect or intelligence (Potter, 2007, p. 76-77). It is these sort of programming and media that is ruled by men who are changing the way people perceive themselves and others around them, and we must wake up and live as individuals.