Women and Men in the Minds of Society: Brainwashed From Media? | Teen Ink

Women and Men in the Minds of Society: Brainwashed From Media?

June 16, 2013
By Confused_scheherazade ELITE, Brooklyn, New York, New York
Confused_scheherazade ELITE, Brooklyn, New York, New York
132 articles 0 photos 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
I know nothing, but of miracles.

When the word “Femininity” comes to mind, it is often connected with other equivocal concepts such as “beauty,” “motherhood,” “ladylike”, and “women.” Every individual, regardless of era, ethnicity, age, or gender has obstinate beliefs about the differences and expectations that they hold for the sexes, especially for women. The common denominator to all those opinions is the commercial and entertainment media that persistently surrounds us and influence our gender mentality from adolescence to adulthood, whether we are conscious of it or not.

In the Eastern Taoist philosophy, the forces of feminine and masculine are parallel to the analogous spirits of Yin and Yang, Yang consisting of force, strength, and aggression, while Yin is restricted to yielding, gentleness, and passivity, the genders you can infer on your own. While you may not find a Taoist monk in New York City, the ideas relating to gender have remained to stimulus the 21st-century mindset today. One of the most prominent manuscripts theorizing the difference between the sexes is Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, a current staple in gender speculative culture, exploring the fundamental differences between woman and man and focusing on problems in ommunication that arise from them. Yet, contrary to opinion this alleged feminist manuscript (Kathleen Trigiani) enforces the sex-role theory describing men as “Martians value "power, competency, efficiency, and achievement" and women as “Venutians value "love, communication, beauty, and relationships," (quoted John Gray).
“Men's and women's minds really do work differently -- but not on everything.” (Marano, page 1) While there is still evidence that supports an innate disparity between the sexes, there is also apparent evidence that discusses where the sex differences start and end according to biology, sociology, and intelligence. The article does verify that men and women are different, according to separate reproduction organs and chromosomes, but also correspondingly to differences in thinking methods as “Females are gifted at detecting the feelings and thoughts of others, inferring intentions, absorbing contextual clues and responding in emotionally appropriate ways, (Marano, page 2). Yes, men and women are primarily “different” in terms of biology, and while psychologically having similar sexual and intellectual gatherings in a woman and a man’s body, and it is ultimately supported that “difference doesn't imply superiority or inferiority” (Marano, page 1). Nevertheless, we must ask ourselves why commercial society instead of appreciating gender’s equilibrium through thought, to use instead media manipulation nature to play on vulnerabilities involving one’s emotional development and psychological self-image.
As discussed in Susan Brownmiller’s excerpt from Femininity, females and males grow up from youth indoctrinated with ideas of expected behavior, for which appropriate actions are fundamentally divided into two sections: the Girls’ Department and the Boy’s Department. Brownmiller views her childhood as a “nostalgic tradition of imposed limitations,” (Brownmiller, page 3) which had later transitioned the idea of femininity as not just a whimsical game of dress-up, but an passive-aggressive challenge in order to meet feminine standards, reaching physical requirements (breasts, hips, childrearing ability) and the elusive balance between beauty maintenance (that is beautifully pleasing, yet “natural”) and upholding a femininity that compliments and differentiates from men’s masculinity (2).
From then on, we are bombarded with influences that stray beyond the partition between blue and pink, and princes and princesses. Magazines, television, and movies all use commercial rhetoric to convince us that in some way, we are not enough. Several ad campaigns use beautiful spokes models to sell everything, from shampoo to movies, and in doing so appeals to the deepest desires and insecurities of their audience that is us. Seeing visuals, models, at what society designs as the ultimate flawlessness, media subtly brainwashes us into achieving that physical perfection, or at least emulate it. The quest and demands for femininity, honestly is capricious paradox of achieving beauty, while also attempting to do so naturally and non-superficially (3), and failing in the balance. Even prominent and celebrated women, such as critically acclaimed writer Alice Walker, have experienced inadequacy from her scarred imperfection (Walker). Bravery, self-reliance, and intelligence are all wonderful components of modern women, yet the modern woman can never be considered womanly without at least trying to appear feminine (2).
There is in fact under-representation of the modern women in entertainment media that predominantly portrays female characters in -sexualized caricatures (Smith 12). As Dr. Smith states there are “fewer than one out of three (28%) of the speaking characters (both real and animated) are female” (12). In comparison to the more prevalent representation of the male-to-female ratio, there also appears to be disparities with the genders’ bodily depiction, since females are also “five times as likely as males to be shown in sexually revealing clothing” (14) and tend to be more likely to be seen with hourglass and/ or wispy figures. The theme of popular television and movie media’s tendency to focus on women’s physical attractiveness is seen in Dr. Smith’s chart surveys, there is a physical inequality on hyper-sexuality female characters tend to have more proportionally unrealistic Furthermore, the roles given to female and male protagonists unfortunately help to cement sex-roles, as male characters are usually given the heroic and action-dominated roles, while their female counterparts are seen more domestically, tending to domesticated duties, along with a penchant for romantic interest (17). While there is some praise for gender-bending television, Avatar the Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, there does reveal a lacking need for female characters that actively drive their own plotlines with independence and rational body figures, instead of just pining for Disney’s Prince Charming. Questionably, Dr. Smith asks, “Why are women often associated with beauty instead of men?” (Smith, page 1)Both the Hunchback and Beast of Disney movies are male protagonists whose physical aesthetics are less than perfect, yet the appeal of their characters stream from the positive traits in their personality, such as kindness shown despite temperament and ugliness. Yet, why are animated women always kind and beautiful in such as cliché manner? Despite rags and wicked stepmothers, princesses are always “the fairest of them all” and need to be saved from their poor circumstances or due to their own inability to protect themselves, but are infrequently accepted and acknowledged for less than perfect appearances or acknowledged for unique strengths.
Gender-stereotyped media had to sojourn and evolve, if realistic gender perceptions are to be perceives. Masculinity and femininity aren’t just divisible portions of the same societal whole, but blurred combinations of each other of which we have to accept the difference and acknowledge our unique strengths and métiers in order to achieve any iota of balance. In a country where women make up 50% of the population, the lack of diverse and realistic figures portrayed in media is exceedingly appalling and deleterious to women’s individuality by creating a sense of substantial incompetence and bad self-esteem. Accepting imperfection and variety in the face of femininity, and acknowledging that in media portrayals will help to decrease the hyper sexualized atmosphere that negatively influence perceptions of realistic women. Maybe the true nature of the sexes is really as black or white, or blue or pink, as think it is, but does our current media really offer beauty and perfection, or a glass slipper that is nearly impossible to fit?

The author's comments:
Currently trying to read Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women

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