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The Misrepresentation Of Women Continues

Nika Shahery |
November 18, 2013 | 9:32 p.m. PST


I hate that Barbie’s real life proportions are impossible to achieve. I hate that song about a guy’s “f**kin’ problem” “loving bad bitches” broke the top 10 in the Billboard’s Top 100.

Sexual objectification, discrimination and misogyny, especially in the media, is not only tolerated, but accepted. (anneheathen, Creative Commons)
Sexual objectification, discrimination and misogyny, especially in the media, is not only tolerated, but accepted. (anneheathen, Creative Commons)

I hate that Photoshop is abused by editors to make women appear even skinnier than their already virtually perfect form. I hate that a music video that does nothing to further music as a form of art, besides displaying topless women has received over 26 million views.

But what I especially hate is that even though we live in the 21st century, where we are so mindful about being politically correct that even a minor racist comment is widely scrutinized, sexual objectification, discrimination and misogyny, especially in the media, is not only tolerated, but accepted.

You would think by now we have learned from the mistakes of other countries. Yet are we any better? Sure, we allow women to pursue higher levels of education and don’t stone them in the town square, but at the same time, our culture accepts the gross underrepresentation of women in government, the overt sexual objectification of women in the movie industry, the gap between financial earnings of men and women and the torment of women by the media.

And we tolerate it. We tolerate that women have to think strategically about their appearance and self expression because if a woman gets angry, it’s probably PMS. If a woman cries, it’s because she is emotional and weak. And if a woman dresses in a suit she is some sort of power-hungry dominatrix that will try to smother the influence of men.

We’ve seen these assumptions conjured up recently. Kate Middleton was photographed for a brief moment twirling her hair and slightly grinning at a Remembrance Day ceremony November 10th in London and suddenly, the Internet exploded with outrage at her “absent-mindedness.” Does this coined feminine action provoke the idea that Kate is actually a self-absorbed, attention seeking, temptress, who couldn’t care less about the event?

Surely that infinitesimal moment sheds light on her true feelings about being there, her character, and her potential as a leader. Or at least that’s what several bloggers, magazines and newscasters are throwing around.

That same mentality though is not an outrageously novel view. The same examination of feminine slip-ups was prevalent during the 2008 election in regards to Sarah Palin, and in the 2012 in reference to Hilary Clinton, as clearly brought to light by the Miss Representation documentary. I’m not implying that their respective loses were due to their gender, but I will say that there was an obscene amount of time focused on their appearance and womanish tendencies. 

On a larger scale, let’s reflect back to last month, October, where the town was painted pink for Breast Awareness, sorry, I mean Breast Cancer Awareness month. The campaign, which was meant to generate empowerment for survivors and encouragement for women to take precautions, instead became an “I love boobies” fest where all were absorbed with protecting breasts as they symbolize femininity. I’m sure it’s comforting to women that not only could breast cancer be deadly, but also that there is a high possibility that it would leave them devoid of the object so fondly adored by men. In Greece, Nestle Fit released the “Tweeting Bra” that would send out a tweet whenever someone unhooked their bra to remind women to perform a self-check. Some boys from “Simple Pickup” even went so far as to ask women if they can “motorboat” them, in exchange for a $20 donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Having personally lost my grandmother to breast cancer, I would go so far as to say that several of last month’s “festivities” were demoralizing, disrespectful and offensive. Instead of focusing on stories from survivors, raising money for the cure and providing awareness of the disease, advertisers and groups widely focused on breasts as an object of sexual desire. And last month was only just a magnified glimpse at how the media makes sex into an industry.  

Advertisers are probably the most prone to this abuse. Look at Carl's Junior commercials; this company continually sexually objectifies women, as it did with Katherine Webb in its most recent commercial, to sell burgers.

Yes, burgers. Just let that sink in. 

And the worst part is women themselves are furthering sexual objectification! Take Selena Gomez’s hit single, “Come and Get it,” where she provides and “open invitation” to “come and get it,” a song that was publicly scrutinized by New Zealand singer Lorde. Miley Cyrus uses her naked body as an attention stunt to have the spotlight on her, which may have worked seeing as her video "Wrecking Ball" has over 300 million views. While some view her video as a plea for help, I see it as a young girl using sexuality to an extreme to penetrate the skulls of her viewers and let them know that she is, in fact, an adult.

But how you can you blame her when young girls grow up surrounded by this image? TV, advertisements, music, everything in mass culture—even toys—maintain this same message of what the adult women should appear and act like.

Think about it: 56 percent of commercials aimed at females use beauty as a product appeal, 80 percent of characters with jobs in G-rated films are male and the average person spends about 1/3 of their time watching television. Not to mention that 20 years ago the average fashion model weighed 8 percent less than the average female, and now that number has risen to 23 percent.

We are still enveloped by these misrepresentations, and it's only getting worse.

Frailty” still continues to be the name of women. 


Reach Contributor Nika Shahery here; follow her here.



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