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A Cause For Concern: Objectification In Culture And Society

2042 words - 9 pages

Imagine this: what if every woman depicted through the media was to swap scenarios with men. Instead of a scantily clad female gyrating in every background music video, there was a male in her place, doing as she was. The ratings on that video would undoubtedly hit the floor, with comments like, “tasteless,” and “inappropriate”. If we saw this happen in, for example, countless car and alcohol advertisements that use shots of women’s breasts, midriffs, and butt to promote their product, and turn use similar shots of men, some of us might start feeling a little awkward. Why have people become so accustomed to the way media portrays women, that by putting a man in her place and treating him the ...view middle of the document...

In the Journal of Advertising Research article Sexual Objectification of Women in Advertising, written by Amanda Zimmerman, it is explained how from the 1960’s through early and mid-1990’s, there were significantly more overt portrayals of women as sex objects (Zimmerman, 72). What Zimmerman’s paper mentions as even more terrifying is the fact that women are becoming less and less offended by these portrayals, compared to the 1991 study of women reactions to such ads (Zimmerman, 72). This means that technically, women are becoming less and less offended by the way our gender is exploited so heavily on a daily basis. One could assume that because people are becoming immune to this sort of exploitation, advertising industries are constantly pushing the envelope by having to find more scandalous things to grab the viewers’ attention in attempt to sell their product. Therefore, commercials that use females as an object will only become more and more raunchy and sexy. Sex sells, and unfortunately the kids are receiving this message earlier and earlier. One only has to look at the pregnancy rates and rise of sexual involvement in adolescents.
For instance, “The pregnancy rate for adolescent girls between the ages of 15 and 17 is 25% higher in the United Sates than in any other industrialized nation (Gruber and Grube, 2000).” One may ask themselves, “What is America doing different?” Well, similar trends exist through Europe, but nowhere near the numbers in the U.S. The fact of the matter is that the adolescents and children have been easily picking up these subliminal messages the media sends the public, whether or not they were actually targeting adults. One only has to look at the large studies surrounding this issue to realize the harm this is causing both teens and adults mentally. Body shame, self-objectification, and body monitoring all contribute to harmful effects objective advertising has.
In the Southern Communication Journal, Pavica Sheldon elaborates on the mental affects objectification creates in her article Pressure to Be Perfect: Influences on College Students’ Body Esteem. She mentions a study done by renowned psychologist Robert Fredrickson that explains the harm of television always advertising people as only being valued for their looks (Sheldon, 277). It’s then the comparison that takes place between the viewer and subject, which would happen alternately between oneself and seemingly any media outlet that creates negative reactions (Sheldon, 278). This process teaches oneself to self-objectify; validate our own appearance by comparison. However, what we don’t realize is that what we are often comparing ourselves to isn’t real. But, “How unreal?” one may ask. How unreal are the standards that society sets?
If one has ever taken a digital photo class or marveled at and messed around with the technologies that Photoshop allows, it’s easy to figure out why the faces seen on magazine covers, and in movies, are so perfect. Wrinkle...

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