Women in Roles on Television
The quality of American television has become a national disgrace. Young women in America who are displeased with their appearance more likely then not can trace those feelings directly back to images from the mass media on television. The unrealistic representations of women that the mass media bombards young women with indicates that the television has become a source for a distorted understanding of gender roles among adolescent women. These images warp young women’s views of their own gender identity. The mass media on television should in an attempt to provide more positive gender identities for adolescent women depict women on television in more realistic ways, should stop reinforcing negative stereotypes of women, and stop portraying women as sex objects in advertising.
Television is unrepresentative of the real world. Since most major directors on television are males, they depict a world, which agrees with their concepts of society on television. Young women see women in roles on television as being submissive to men or as not as intelligent as men are. For example, the case of the female mayor on the comedy shows South Park. She went to Princeton, yet she makes moronic decisions for the town and flagrantly poses for photos. The mass media should show positive roles that young women could identify with and imitate positive behavior from strong female role models. Television besieges women with portrayals of old women fearing the youth of young women. The result of these images is that these ideas create competition among women and divides women. The mass media ought to be aware of the images of women depicted since young women in other countries also see the American television. In developing countries television ownership is rising and as much as seventy one percent of television programming is from more affluent countries (Wolf 80).
Equally important would be to stop reinforcing negative stereotypes of women on television. Television still represents traditional views of society. Women are often still generally represented as inferior to men on television. Television shows have to stop representing women as being neurotic like Monica on Friends, or difficult and bossy like Amanda on Melrose Place, or ditsy like Phoebe on Friends. Women should be represented as more than the standard stereotypical negative and simplified character viewers generally see.
Television allows people to see more and choose what they want to be. Women need to be shown in occupations that are not the stereotypical, such as the occupations of nurse, maid, sales assistant, or models. Men are often shown as the breadwinners while women are shown as being emotional and domestic caregivers. Television ought to demonstrate strong older women instead of feeble grandmothers baking cookies. Teenage girls should be represented on television as being able to have serious conversations and feeling that their brains are as important as their looks. Women are often shown as only being able to get what they want by using sexuality. Television audiences certainly must demand more from the television shows the audience watches.
Additionally, advertisers see women as parts. Advertisers represent women as lips, legs, breasts, butts, and as creatures that become overly excited about soup. For example, in the commercial for an herbal shampoo a woman is so excited by the shampoo she is moaning and groaning because of the shampoo. According to Mia Adjali, a women’s division executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries in an article by Shanta M. Bryant for the Official news agency of the United Methodist Church, “The media often focus on legs, breasts and mouth of a woman, so in essence women are looked at in pieces. If this happens continuously it makes it legitimate, and also acceptable, to do violent things against women” (Bryant). Advertisers should produce high quality, entertaining socially conscience ad campaigns. Women are featured predominately in weight- loss advertisements. Women on television commercials are most often portrayed as housewives. As a result, women are shown as not being in control. Furthermore, girls in advertisements are often seen playing house while little boys are seen with trucks and action figures.
Judging from these viewpoints the mass media has reflected negative images of women on television to the point of distorting women’s views of their own gender identity. The ramifications of the images that the mass media bombards young women with indicates that the television has become a source for negative understanding of gender roles among young women. The conclusion of the above stated facts is that young women are exposed to gender stereotypes on television causing negative understanding of gender roles. As has been shown television should make an attempt to provide more positive gender identity is for young women and represent women on television in more realistic ways, should stop reinforcing negative stereotypes of women, and stop portraying women as sex objects in advertising. For all these reasons, society should have a deep concern with the gender roles that young women are learning from television
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