very interesting thread. I am actually writing my thesis about how TV influences societie's contruction of gender and what can be done about it.
First of all: How is a woman supposed to be? How are men supposed to be? What is male and what is female? My theorie (and not only mine) is that gender is a cultural contruction. Just because I am woman I don't have to like children, love decorating, shopping, be sensitive, a good listener and love gossip. But am I less woman because I like working with timber, do things that are conciderd reckelss and don't mind getting my shoes dirty, because I'd never ever wear high heels?
Are the things we define as typical male or female really gender related? I say no! And if we look at other cultures and into history it is true. Gender expectations have changed. And they continue to. I say the way we act as men and women is how we are brought up and educated.
But a lot of things, little things that we don't even notice anymore because they seem natural to us are gender related. Men and women talk differently, they hold their body differently, they behave differently, and they behave differently when they are interacting with men and women.
We could say that that is just natural, because we have 2 genders, men and women, and they have to be different, it is nature. But I think it is not, I think it is culture.
We could also say that being different is not a bad thing, because everyone is different. I agree. But in this case it gives one group power and the other group has to suffer from that. Sure the "suffering" got less for most women in the western/northern part of the world. But we are a long way vom equality. We know that women still don't get paid the same, that it is harder for them to find an good job in the first place, because they might get a baby and have to pause, mostly women are victims of sexual abuse and rape etc etc...
But the system of only 2 genders excludes many people who don't fit in those patterns or schemes. I am talking about intersexual and transexual people. But also about men and women who are not as male or female as society wants them to be. There is a man who walks a bit funny or loves men instead of women. There is a woman who has a beard or short hair and wears hiking boots. There are millions of people who don't fit...
But I think that media is not really THE problem. It is one, maybe even only a symptom. We learn how to behave, how to interact with other people, what is male what is female from day one we are on this planet, probarbly even before that. I am quite sure that a mother behaves differently as soon as she knows what gender her child will be. Nurses and childminders behave differently when they are dealing with boys and girls and at the age of three you can already see differences in girl's and boys's behavior. Boys are more cometetive, girls look after each other and play together. That's of course just a generalisation, because every child is different but research has found out that these are the general tendencies. So our parents, kindergarten, school, friends and media teach us how they and the majority of society see the world and of course we go along with what they say, because if everybody says it, it can't be so wrong.
And media just reproduces the pictures, the roles of men and women that are already present in our heads. Of course they show them in the extremest ways and make those pictures only stronger and influence us even more. But they can only do that because we give them the power to do that. They can only sell what people buy. As long as we watch what they present, they will continue to do so. We as customers have to remind ourselves of our power. That is one reason why I got rid of TV years ago. I don't want to support that nonsense anymore and I don't want to be influenced by it anymore. Some of my friends did the same. If I really want to know what's going on there are so many independent websites, where I can read the news. I can get most movies on DVD etc...
So I think it is not only the media's fault that they show women in ways we don't agree with.It is also our fault, because we let them.
But I do see the problem that there are too many people who are not aware of this issue or simply ignore it because it is easier. But I still don't want to give in, because it is also me who is in a disadvantage because of her gender, I want to be worth as much as my male friends, have the same chances in life and get the same respect as they do. And even if I don't benefit from my fight in this life, hopefuly someones daughters will.
Sorry, that was really long, I didn't even say half of what I wanted to say but it really is a matter that hit's home and bothers me a lot...
You know, Edward, as a brother you are sometimes a dissappointment
Oh, never mind! my less noble side exulted
Then the jokes about the world's only clumsy vampire would start
'Bout time someone scored around here