Misrepresentation of women in the media: Why men need to stop treating women like objects

Women in the media have been misrepresented by men as being nothing but their beauty and their body.

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Misrepresentation of women in the media: Why men need to stop treating women like objects

Melanie Flores, Freelance Writer

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In the film “Sex and the City,” one of the main protagonists, Miranda Hobbes, said, “the only two choices for women are witch and sexy kitten,” with Carrie Bradshaw replying, “You just said a mouthful there, sister.” And indeed, she did. Thanks to the media, society views women to be one or both of these options. Women in America are expected to be beautiful and attractive. This has sadly created a culture where women are not taken seriously. They have been objectified as being less than men, which is seen from the treatment of young girls to the treatment of powerful women in office.

A MISREPRESENTATION

Aside from the body shaming and sexism that women face in America, Hollywood is responsible for what is put out on television screens and theater screens. According to the documentary “Miss Representation,” Hollywood’s target audience is men from ages 18-34. With this target audience in mind, they have an “idea” of what men in this age group want—and boy, do they give it to them. With their target audience being men, what else would the media project in order to get views? Television series where women are half-naked and unconditionally beautiful.

The media is sending a negative message where young boys are being taught that women are nothing but objects. This sensual imagery of attractive young women has caused young girls to feel worse about themselves in the process. Many young girls try to achieve these impossible beauty standards, which often leads to depression or eating disorders. The media has made it clear that women are nothing more than their bodies, and they can be treated in any manner that they have seen fit.

This dehumanization has fed into America’s rape culture, and continues to feed it as the media continues to objectify women. As men continue to see images of women being objectified and “liking” it, they interpret this as normal and view rape to be acceptable. As Jean Kilbourne phrases it, “[we] are turning a human being into a thing,” which is a justification of why men use violence toward women. Young men are fed this perspective of women being beautiful and attractive, and forget that there is more to them than just their bodies.

EFFECTS ON POLICY

It is difficult for women to be taken seriously because of the negative media image that women are all body and no brain. No matter their education or achievements, a woman’s value is only recognized in her appearance. For instance, many powerful women in office face objectification and are not respected for being office officials. They are constantly critiqued for insignificant matters such as what they are wearing or how they look instead of evaluated for their stance on policy issues.

For example, in an interview with then-Gov. Sarah Palin on Fox News, news anchor Greta Van Susteren asked Palin if she had her breasts enhanced. Van Susteren described this to be all over the internet and was all everyone could talk about. Palin was objectified rather than respected as a politician. Yet, when it comes to her male colleagues, none of the articles written about them are about their fashion choices, but rather feature the political issues they discussed. This trend of objectification and disrespect that our women officials face affects their credibility and voice in American politics.

Currently, there is a huge underrepresentation of female leaders that has had a huge effect in today’s politics. Women make up 51 percent of the United States population. However, only 23.7 percent of Congress is female. In these statistics alone, women are not taken seriously. Because men see women as objects instead of human beings, not many policy issues are dedicated to fixing this type of sexism, and with women being less than a quarter of Congress, nothing really changes. Many important decisions that involve the good of women are made by men.

As of now, Hollywood is shaping our society on how we perceive women and even shapes our politics. Men and young boys have the wrong perspective of women, leading to dire consequences, from men in politics constantly making the wrong decisions to women getting raped. As a woman who is studying political science and sociology, I know what I will be facing when I graduate Biola. I will be declared as “inferior” to men and will not be taken seriously. But I am not worried. This just means I have to make my own seat at the table and prove that I am more than just a pretty face.