The Power of Media
In the text “Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt: Advertising and Violence”, Jean Kilbourne, an award winning author and educator who is internationally recognized for her innovative work on images of woman in advertising, argues how media images influence our interactions and shape our social reality. Kilbourne’s sensible analysis of these powerful and harmful advertisements lacks a simplistic cause and effect relationship between the way we act and the images presented to us. With an analytic investigation of Kilbourne’s text one can locate several solid examples where she explains the relationship between images and actions.
Kilbourne claims, “Male violence is subtly encouraged by ads that encourage men to be forceful and dominant, and to value sexual intimacy more than emotional intimacy”(460). Though this may be a valid claim one may agree with, another may also argue as to why the advertisement is to blame, and that is why Kilbourne specifically comments that, “Ads don’t directly cause violence, of course”(466). As we know, there are many different forms and styles of advertising such as television commercials, radio commercials, newspapers, magazines, billboards, and even on city benches; basically anywhere a victim could happen to glance.
The Power of Media Essay Example
It is nearly impossible for an average American to go through a single day without recognizing an advertisement. So how do we know for sure whether or not we can blame advertisements, as Kilbourne can even agree “…it is difficult to separate media effects from other aspects of the socialization process and almost impossible to find a comparison group (just about everyone in America has been exposed to massive doses of advertising)”(478). All these ads are not necessarily a bad thing though; they can sometimes be a great way to find new and exciting things like food, vacation resorts, almost anything.
The main ads people need to be aware of are those of which objectify or single out a specific someone by the means of its visual media or the hidden message, in order to capture the audiences attention. These ads specifically are the main concern due to the use of physical dominance, vulgar language, and most commonly the power of female sexuality and male predation. The reason they are so harmful is due to the cleverness of objectifying a person just as Kilbourne states “Turning a human being into a thing, an object, is almost always the first step toward justifying violence against a person.
It is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to be violent to someone we think of as equal, someone we have empathy with, but it is very easy to abuse a thing. ”(466). A worthy example in Kilbourne’s text is an advertisement that shows a young attractive woman in an elevator, under dressed standing in a posture that hints toward the viewer that she is looking for trouble, or as Kilbourne comments “she is literally asking for it” (464). While at the bottom of the same ad it reads “Push my Buttons, I’m looking for a man who can totally floor me, who wont stop till the top. You: must live in SYN. For men SYN Jeans”(464).
Now who would have ever thought that it would have turned out to be just an ad for some name brand Jeans? The language used in the ad completely made the woman appear and sound like an object, one that wants to be controlled and abused by a violent aggressive man. The unbelievable thing about this ad is that it undoubtedly caught the attention of a large number of viewers, specifically males, even though it had nothing to do with the jeans themself. From the last example, imagine how many men looked at the ad and immediately thought of physically controlling and possibly being violent with the young woman.
And that’s because there are too many advertisements that lead men to believe that they are in complete control, for example one ad in the text shows a man aggressively pulling on a woman’s hair as he has her pinned from behind. Because ads are not rated for a specific audience, even young children have access to these powerful messages. Kilbourne’s idea confirms, “…boys already have the right to ogle, to view women’s bodies as property to be looked at, commented on, touched, perhaps eventually hit and raped”(468).
In contrast men are not viewed as the property of woman, therefore there is generally no danger for most men, whereas objectified woman are always at risk (Kilbourne 467). Another advertisement in Kilbourne’s text for cologne shows two women grabbing and looking adoringly at the man in between them, but he is not looking at either one of them nor is he touching them. A message that reads, “Don’t be such a good boy” is printed toward the bottom of the ad. Kilbourne’s response to the ad suggests, “Clearly the way to get beautiful woman is to ignore them, perhaps mistreat them” (460).
The message that is sent to viewer from this ad can be considered quite sexual, and it is not hard to understand; again allowing premature viewers to get an idea of what should be adult content. Even though the appearance of the ad is clean, the message is not. It is not doubtful that today’s children understand these harmful messages more than ever before, due to the fact that it is literally surrounding them. These encounters on virgin eyes begin to build up and piece together like a puzzle.
Once enough pieces have been gathered, the social reality of gender statuses and social roles begin to develop. Children admire becoming older, more or less have such roles and status just like adults, therefore when they witness and encounter behaviors in media it tends to act as a model. This has begun to be a problem at younger and younger ages as Kilbourne disputes, “A fifth-grade boy in Georgia repeatedly touched the breasts and genitals of one of his fellow students while saying, “I want to get in bed with you” and “I want to feel your boobs””(475).
Now how in the hell does a boy that young find himself in such a position. Is it the media to blame or the parents, or both? Where did the boy interact with that type of communication and mature content, because those ideas didn’t just spring up? Something or someone led him to believe that this type of communication was okay. All in all Kilbourne uses great advertisement examples to explain how media influences ones actions and ideas to be violent and or sexually physical toward woman.
By expressing her own reactions, opinions and feelings as a woman she makes it easier for others to relate and understand her argument. She explains how harmful media influences damaging consequences especially to children. When an audience views these compelling messages it leaves an impression, especially to young vulnerable children. These youngsters naturally reenact or do what they have acquired from the messages in media, thinking that it is acceptable because they don’t know any better, like the once popular cliche, monkey see monkey do.