Women In Media Essay

3483 words - 14 pages

Women in the Media By: Amanda The mass media operates as an important influence on the values, norms, and aesthetic standards embraced by modern U.S. society. Research has also indicated that that it transmits thinness- oriented norms and values. "The media has capitalized upon and promoted this image (of thinness) and through popular programming have portrayed the successful and beautiful protagonists as thin. Thinness thus has become associated with self-control and success." (Harrison, 41) The media not only holds this standard of body image for women, but also a code of conduct for their behavior. There is a superior/ inferior split between the categories of male and female. "[There is] a naturalization of men's dominance over women by constituting women as objects of desire, emphasizing male subjectivity, and denying female subjectivity. An enduring reliance on the "˜natural' order of the sexes allows women to be located as "˜other' and makes dominance of men over women "˜natural'. Men are historically associated with light, reason, logic, and urban centers- culture or the public sphere- while women are associated with darkness, nature, mothering, feeling- or the private sphere." (McLaughlin, 250) Within feminism there are two schools of thought on how a woman is seen by society- the Madonna and the whore. The Madonna image is one in which the woman is pure and chaste, totally disassociated with any sexual desire. The whore is consumed with "˜wrong' feelings of the want to be sexual, is seen only as a sexual being, and is often promiscuous with her sexual activities. All these images are ones the media portrays of women through film, television, and print media. Around 3% of the general population have an eating disorder, and with college-aged women this number grows to around 22%. Disordered eating has risen steadily over the past 30 years, and has specifically targeted young, white, middle-class females. Over the past thirty years, female sex symbol has trimmed down dramatically and the media has become more successful with marketing the thinness ideal. Although women's magazines do contain food advertisements, these messages are drowned out by the abundance of dieting articles and advice of restrained eating. Although there is no theory as of yet which specifically states that media causes eating disorders, theories which do exists such as the social learning theory suggest that media has a great influence on body image, disordered eating, and images of women. Because of these intolerable standards by which women have been made to strive to achieve, this is an extremely important topic to study. Women need to be aware of the message that are being sent to them by the powers in the media, so they may learn to recognize and block them when they encounter them everyday. I choose to investigate this topic because I, as a woman, have bombarded with negative imagery all my life and feel it places a horrible standard to...

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