Women in Media
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The media, in many ways, controls what the public thinks, feels and believes. If this wasn’t true dictatorships would not put as much effort into controlling this aspect of society. While there is much argument about whether the media possesses a liberal or conservative bias, there is an issue with the media that is much more serious. Women and girls are routinely mistreated by the media. Women are commonly seen for their value based on looks rather than based on achievements and intelligence.
For example, think about the 2008 presidential elections. There was constant talk about Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin’s looks. Hillary Clinton was constantly criticized for her looks while Palin was objectified for hers. Instead of focusing on cankles and hairstyles, it would have been way more useful and quite frankly more interesting to focus on what these women had to say, a movement that would definitely help one and hurt the other.
Hillary Clinton once said that the only thing she needed to do to bump a story off the front page of the paper was to change her hairstyle. I don’t know about everyone else, but personally I believe the crisis in Syria and the Supreme Court’s decisions on marriage equality to be far more important to the nation than Hillary Clinton’s hairstyles. The work she has done for years to benefit children should be her defining factor and the work she has done in aspects of foreign policies, not the way here hairstylist cut her hair.
Speaking of the same election there was no (or very little) talk about the looks of either Obama and McCain, besides racial and age comments which really have nothing to do with body image. Neither of them ever had their faces photoshopped onto the voluptuous body of a playboy model in an American flag swimsuit.
When so much focus is put on the looks of women it affects many aspects of how women think and feel about themselves. The media constantly objectifies and sexualizes women. When the newsstands are flooded with images of photoshopped women with the “perfect bodies” in swimsuits, it is easy for girls to get the wrong idea. There is such a narrow idea of perfection that has been established by society and encouraged for the media. When walking into a bookstore the “women’s interest” area is filled with magazines for losing weight and being stylish. Meanwhile the “men’s interest” is filled with Playboys and other magazines that treat women as objects.
The media needs more women to write. While this won’t solve all the issues in terms of focus on appearance it should at least cut back on the highly sexualized images of women. There is far more to women than the outward appearances. If something isn’t done to make the media portray women for the smart and funny and interesting people we are, rather than just fat or skinny, ugly or pretty, it is unlikely the women’s equality movement will ever be able to move to full equality.