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HOW FEMALES ARE PORTRAYED AS SEX SYMBOLS IN THE MEDIA
How Females Are Portrayed As Sex Symbols in the Media
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How Females Are Portrayed As Sex Symbols in the Media
The media portrays females as extremely inferior and very attractive which intern makes males feel empathetic towards them. The whole “damsel in distress act” gives the audience a confused feeling that beautiful women constantly need to be “saved” and reinforces the sexual submissiveness in women, because the dominant male protagonist always has to come and rescue her from some situation that makes her look incapable of doing anything for herself, implying that women cannot survive on their own, and that they need the help of a man. This is especially prevalent in horror films, where not only does the “damsel in distress act” occur, but the females in these films act overly unintelligent, and make bad choices when it comes to saving their own lives. I do realize that film directors may have actresses go up the stairs instead of out the front door, in order for entertainment value, but when this is a reoccurring role for females, over many decades, a pattern transpires and creates a negative stereotype. Films constantly portray women as the weaker sex not only in horror movies, but also in a lot of main stream action movies, and dramas. Women are shown worthy only if they are “sexy” and dumb.
Everything in the media is very extreme. An actress is either cast as the young, sexy, supermodel that does not possess any brain cells, or on the contrary, an ugly, overweight, older woman who has a Ph.D in biochemistry. Very rarely is there an “in between character” who has above average looks and intelligence, but is definitely not considered a super model. However, is rewarded more for her intelligence than her appearance. This hardly ever happens in big budget
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films, mainly in less expensive independent films. Which are the kind of the films I prefer to watch because I find them more interesting and have more depth to them.
Women are portrayed as “objects” in magazine advertisements and on billboards, they are no longer a person selling a product, they are the product, and the actual commodity has become more of an accessory that cannot sell without the female sex object by it’s side. It is difficult to look through any magazine or billboard these days without finding a sexy woman, wearing hardly any clothing, posing in a risqué way, only to help promote a product.
As I mention products, I cannot leave out the most glorified female doll that optimizes the portrayal of female objectification, “the Bratz Dolls.” According to a recent article in USA Today by Sharon Jayson (2007) entitled “Media Cited for Showing Girls as Sex Objects,” the Bratz dolls, (a newer more hip version of Barbie dolls) are mentioned, and described as wearing “sexualized clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings and feather boas,” (Media Cited for Showing Girls As Sex Objects, para. 8). I personally think (as a college student) that these dolls are indeed very attractive and fashionable dolls, however, the target age range for these dolls is 4-8 year olds, these dolls were specifically designed for very young girls, (Media Cited for Showing Girls as Sex Objects, para. 9). “The researchers found such images may make girls think of and treat their own bodies as sexual objects” (Media Cited for Showing Girls as Sex Objects, para. 2). I couldn’t agree more with this statement.
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When little girls ask their parents to purchase these bratz dolls for them, and take them out of the box and begin to play with them, the young girls realize that they don’t look anything like these perfect pieces of plastic. All they want to do is have hair and clothes just like theirs’, a tiny waist, large breasts, flawless skin, belly button piercing, and lots of makeup to vamp up their look. I remember when I was a young girl, and only Barbie dolls were out on the market. I remember wanting to have long blonde hair like she did, and perfect tan skin. She seemed to be the epitome of perfection, and I thought that if I looked just like her, all my self-esteem issues would be solved, everyone in school would like me, and my parents would finally accept me. Now this occurrence happened around 1989, so I can only imagine what is running through young girls’ mind in 2007, with the way our society has changed for the worst, and continues to objectify females when it comes to sex. Their self-esteem must be crushed, because hardly anyone looks like a bratz doll, unless major plastic surgery has taken place, and they young girls probably think about starving themselves in order to be as thin as their plastic role models. It is so incredibly sad to see sluty looking dolls being sold to young innocent girls, drastically changing their values, and views about their own bodies and what they should look like. It truly breaks my heart; I thought Barbie was bad enough, but at least if you walk down the isles of a toy store, chances are Barbie won’t be sporting lots of extra piercings, gallons of facial makeup, and fishnet stockings.
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In APA: Analysis of Published Research Shows Sexualized Images Harmful to Girls, Women (2007) it discusses how “The consequences of the sexualization of girls in media today are very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls' healthy development.” I agree with this publication, and that it will hurt the development of girls, bring them a string of emotional problems, and make their sexualization a more difficult process as they grow up (APA, 2007). I think that the girls feel extra pressure when from parents, friends and siblings too, because they are the ones buying and encouraging that the girls play with these dolls, warping the girls sense of reality, and probably making them feel shameful, and guilty about their own bodies.
There are many angels that the media takes in objectifying women sexually, not only through products, advertisements and film, but also in video games. Video games which are actually targeted towards males. I wasn’t fully aware that this was occurring until I sat down to play a few video games with my little brother recently, and when you play, you always choose what character you want to be. In each game that we played, there were at most three female characters, and the rest were males. In every game, the female characters had tiny waists, huge breasts, flawless skin, excessive makeup, and a very revealing outfit. My brother, who is 17, thought these girls were extremely hot. I tried to explain to him without sounding too much like a raging feminist that these girls were disgusting overly sexed up objects, and they were in no way super heroes, they were sluts.
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Unfortunately I also have male friends in college who range in age from 23-27, that also play these same video games, and constantly talk about how “hot” certain female characters are, (usually the ones with the least amount of clothing on). I guess this shows a very valid point, that if you raise young boys with video games that objectify women in a sexual way, these boys will turn into adults (by their age) but continue to act like little boys, and have the same values, they have not matured in a proper way.
According to Brumberg (1997), in her book “The Body Project,” college age women are unable to stop obsessing over their weight, and that special companies, like the makers of secret deodorant which is a product for females, helping to aid them in achieving a more firmer and fit body. Brumberg (1997), also goes on to say that advertisers portray young women in athletic poses at times, helping to make a clear connection between a lean body and their particular product. I completely agree with the author, I think that many women in advertisements are posing in athletic ways, that can even come off as very sexual, because when they are posing for athletic products, they are wearing hardly any clothing, showing off all their sexual body parts and again objectifying them, even in athletic advertisements.
Who is to blame for the exploitation of women through the media? Probably men, but surprisingly also women, because they buy the products, they pose in the magazine advertisements, they play the sexually objectifying roles in films and on television. Our society is obsessed with physical female perfection, and the media will stop at nothing to continue to sell sex to all age groups, no matter how young, in no matter what way. New advertisements, films, products, etc, keep coming out on the market, portraying females as sex objects more and more, and in more degrading ways each time. The questions in my mind are, when will it end, and what will it take to end it?
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American Psychological Association. (2007) APA: Analysis of Published Research Shows
Sexualized Images Harmful to Girls, Women . Media Report To Women, 34, 1-2.
Brumberg, Joan Jacobs. (1997). The Body Project : An Intimate History of American Girls.
New York: Random House Inc.
Jayson, Sharon. (2007, February 20). Media Cited For Showing Girls As Sex Objects. USA
Today. Retrieved June 19, 2007 from http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-02-19-