Breasts and Butts – Whats a Woman’s Worth?

                                Image Credits: http://www.1053kissfm.com/tag/tina-fey/
                                Image Credits: http://www.1053kissfm.com/tag/tina-fey/

Miss Representation has been hitting college campuses around the country. If you haven’t heard of the movie, I urge you to at least watch the trailer. The film covers an extremely important issue that our society is facing today. It is one that is detrimental to the mental and physical health of millions of youth.

While I admit, the movie is a bit sensational; it needs to be in order to get our attention. The media needs to reflect on its moral foundations and go through and ‘extreme makeover.’ As we are having protests against Wall Street and corrupt governments around the world, let’s ride that wave and change the way we perceive, stereotype and condition genders.

As a 25 year old women and a professional athlete, I struggle with the mixed signals I get from society and my upbringing. Be strong conflicts with be sexy. Be compassionate gets in the way of having thick skin. Being cool with guys friends is hard when I don’t take disrespect and stand up for women. I am sick of warped body image ideals and the incessant reminders that the worst thing for a woman to be is old.

Here are some highlights from the film:

The media is the message and the messenger.

A girls value and worth depends on how she looks. Boys get the message that a girl’s appearance is what’s important.

The average teenager gets 10 hrs and 45 mins a day of total media.

53 percent of teen girls are unhappy with their body

65 percent of women and girls have an eating disorder.

There is a concept of a perfect woman and that ideal  is impossible to achieve.

Advertising is about making people feel and want something they are not. It is a 230 billion dollar industry.

Women spend an average of 12,000 to 15,000 dollars a year on beauty and spa treatments. 

Girls see themselves are objects as and in turn self objectify.

Too few women running for office or in leadership positions. 

51% of the US population is women yet only 17 percent is in congress.

Cuba, China, Iraq and Afghanistan have more women in government that America!

By the age of 7 women feel the gender bias and consider leadership to be a masculine quality.

Only 16% of females are the protagonist in Hollywood films and they are looking to be rescued or to find love. Or they are portrayed as a bitchy boss that sacrificed family and love.

On TV there are only 20-30 year old women. However, 20 and 30 year olds are only 39 percent of the American population. This is telling us that women at 40 are some how not wanted?

Reality TV portrays women as vindictive, gold diggers, natural enemies fighting for a man. 

Women in power is often seen as a negative thing.

Hillary Clinton’s ambition is portrayed negatively throughout the media.

I really wanted to know how men thought about this issue. I have to admit, when I asked my friends to respond, I was a bit skeptical that they would even take the time to write back. I am so pleasantly surprised with the responses to this film and I forgot that these ideals effect men and that most men don’t agree with society’s messages about women.

Alejandro, 24 Cancun, Mexico

Incredible video! I feel that the problem is poor education, and not finding out what is really valuable in life. Things like kindness, respect, laughter, friendship, trust, etc, are forgotten and replaced with much easier and quick-satisfaction sources like lust, power, avarice, and superficial characteristics like body image. These misconceptions originate from FEAR: to not be respected, to not be accepted. FEAR, I believe, originates from hatred towards our selves. Why do we hate ourselves? Because we feel we are never good enough for the society’s standards. It’s a cycle that never stops unless we cut the chain. The question is, which one should we cut?

Jordan, 22 US Marine

Well I did know it was sorta like this in the media but I had no idea the reality of it. The media is supposed to be unbiased and this is insane what they’re doing. The statistics were a great eye opener and show that we need an equal number of women in the top positions in corporate America. It’s one thing to say that sex sells but to start belittling women in government, the workplace, and where ever else your not trying sell clothes at least then I don’t understand the idiot logic in that. I can understand Victoria’s Secret along with other merchandisers but that’s advertising, since when does government need women who appeal sexually? That’s what I think Neha, I think all this media is messed up.

Alex , 20 Michigan

I checked out that link, but it was only ~3 minutes long. i have mixed feelings about it. i’ll just be straight up honest with you on my opinions of it. on one hand, i agree that the media really pushes women to try to become something that isn’t realistic (Barbie doll image, etc). i don’t think that’s a good thing because it makes women feel insecure about themselves and isn’t good for their mental health. But on the other hand, it’s not like it’s not the same for guys. They show Ronny from jersey Shore dancing with two chicks at a club, But they don’t seem to care that Ronny is jacked up on roids {steroids} and makes every guy in the world seem small. Instead, they only focus on the girls who are scantily dressed who make women feel insecure about themselves. I think it goes both ways, the media pushes for men to become things that aren’t healthy either.

Raahil, 21 London 
This is a fantastic reality check for our society. Women have largely become portrayed as sex symbols and men in my opinion view them as the same. The media has really portrayed looks and the key criteria to be judged upon. And its showing when you look at the nightclubs and bars. Girls who are barely 18 are dressing and dancing in ways that are seen on television and music videos. The guys are expecting the girls to do that, and it is becoming the norm. I loved this video, a must see for all teenagers especially women!

Eric, 23 New York, NY

The conflict between what is driven by cultural and behavioral evolution and what is driven by biological evolution is still so heavily obfuscated by even ‘experts’ in the field it’s a wonder we’ve made any progress as a species at all.

One of the first things I notice about the trailer is that there are few, if any, men actually commenting on the issue. I can understand that a film focused on women would not want to include men, but it belies just how much of the objectification and exploitation of women is engendered by women themselves. Women, in my experience, often compete with more ferocity than even the strongest of men (and have the struggle of pregnancy to prove their mettle). Has it ever struck critics that the fact that there are more women than men in our country is perfectly in line with what is happening in the media today? Sometimes I wonder.

There are men like me in the world, who, in our own ways, try to empower women every day. Possession of sexuality, self-image, and drive, those fickle players whose absence is the vestige of a Puritanical past, are items that, if addressed on a much larger scale, might obviate some of the disdain with which the media, or even the general population, treats women.

As it stands, however, many of the images in this trailer meant to come across as ‘appalling’ do not strike me as being at all out of place. Sex sells – it’s supply and demand – and women reach that sweet spot at a young age. It’s hard to be an intellectual and a mother at the same time, especially in college (just ask my mom). Couple that with the stigma associated with being a ‘slut,’ a ‘whore,’ a ‘harlot…’ you get cultural byproducts like ‘cockteasers,’ ‘tricks,’ and ‘gold-diggers.’ Linguistics by its very nature always has much to say to that.

I fear films like these, not because they don’t have a positive message, but because the way in which they propose implementing it often consists of just applying more make-up to the problem without ever acknowledging the tragic irony of doing so. I would love to see women possess their image, sex, and competitive spirit and channel it into a positive movement, but vilifying human nature will not bring about that change.

I didn’t understand when you wrote ” Has it ever struck critics that the fact that there are more women than men in our country is perfectly in line with what is happening in the media today? ” Can you clarify that with me? 

What I mean by that statement is entirely encapsulated in the concept of supply-and-demand. In short, men compete for women and women compete for men. Therefore having a majority of women encourages the type of competition that leads to anorexia, xenophobia, severe psychological problems like depression and anxiety, and a feverish pursuit of cosmetics, plastic surgery, anything that will give a person an edge against their competitors. It also encourages outlets like the media to inflate the ‘necessity’ of these things (on a side note, if you ever talk to me candidly, you’ll find that I absolutely HATE it when women, even attractive women, wear a lot of make-up – absolute turn off). Nevertheless, it’s often hyped up that since women make up more than half of our population, they obviously should play a more significant role in [insert leadership position here] and have an easier time doing so. I think that’s a fallacy.

Example:

More women -> More competition -> More anxiety -> Less willingness to assume leadership positions.

And do I think this is a bad thing? Absolutely. I just think it’s important to understand every facet of why it remains true.

I came to the conclusion that men too suffer from our media’s messages. They have just as much pressure to be a certain way as women do but the consequences are so much more apparent in women.  

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Contact: neha@nehauberoi.com