Diwa Mitchell

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The Negative Portrayal of Women in the Media: A Persuasive Speech

April20

The Portrayal of Women in the Media Speech

In this day and age, movies, music, advertisements, and video games that perpetuate
negative female stereotypes, images of what women are “supposed” to look like, and
images that are degrading and demeaning to women have become all but commonplace.
I’m sure each of you has witnessed an example of this at some point—a scantily clad
woman in a music video or on the cover of a magazine, for example. I have spent several
hours doing extensive research on the subject, and, like many, if not all, of you, have been
exposed to these messages all my life. Through my research and personal experience, I
have reached a thesis: that the media portrays women negatively and unfairly. My objective
is to convince you that women are portrayed negatively and unfairly in the media. Today, I
will be discussing 3 main points concerning my thesis. These points are as follows: Beauty
and Body Image; Sexual Objectification; and Media Coverage of Professional Women.

The media sells an image of what they deem to be the “ideal” woman—young, tall
and thin with “perfect” proportions, hair, skin, and teeth. Everywhere we turn we are
bombarded with magazine covers, billboards, movie posters, and the like, in which the
images of the models are manipulated, in some cases, beyond recognition. The media
knows this image is unattainable; we know it is unattainable. So why are these standards
of beauty still being imposed upon women, the majority of which are naturally larger and
older than models?

The reason is almost certainly economic, say analysts. Making women feel
inadequate weightwise and agewise increases their likelihood of purchasing weight loss
and beauty products and clothes. The proof’s in the (low-fat) pudding; the statistics are
harrowing. Americans spend between 40 to 100 billion dollars a year on diet products
alone. An estimated 90-95% of dieters regain the weight they lose, often leading to self-
hatred and perpetuating a vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting. 90% of women are unhappy with
at least one aspect of their physical appearance. Two decades ago, the average model
weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, the average model weighs 23% less.
99% of girls aged 3-10 years old possess at least one Barbie doll. Scientists generated a
computerised model of a woman with Barbie’s proportions, and concluded that a woman
with that body type would have a back that was too weak to support her upper body. Her
torso would be too narrow to contain all vital organs, and she would suffer from chronic
diarrhea and eventually die of emaciation. How glamorous, right?

“The existing narrow definition of beauty is not only unrealistic and unattainable,
but clearly it also creates hang-ups that can lead girls to question their own beauty. It’s
time to free the next generation from these stereotypes and give girls the tools they need to

discover their own definition of beauty.”—Philippe Harousseau.

The following is an anecdote from a Yahoo!Answers user: “Sometimes I’ll be walking
down the street, not even showing much skin…and there will …be some man that drives
by and hollers at me, or honks his horn, or there was even this one guy that clawed at his
window and winked at me. It makes me so angry when this happens to me. It’s different
when it’s a guy friend and he’s teasing you or joking around, but when it’s some douchebag
I don’t even know it ruins my day and makes me hate all men until I get over it. This type
of thing has also happened with guys that I’ve just walked past or were walking near me,
and I’ve just ignored them. Guys that do that remind me of cavemen, and yes, it feels really
[expletive] to be objectified.”

This brings me to my next point: sexual objectification. Women are pressured not
only look beautiful, but also to be “sexy.” The pressure placed on women to be sexually
attractive (and sexually active) is acute—25% of televised commercials send out a message
that tells viewers what is and what is not attractive. The sexual objectification of women
in the media is prevalent. An example of this can be seen in advertising, where women are
often portrayed as infantile, child-like, and vulnerable—characteristics that correlate with
those associated with victims of violence. Another example of this can be seen in video
games—38% of female characters in video games are provocatively dressed; of these, 23%
bare breasts or cleavage, 31% bare their thighs, another 31% bare their midriffs, and 15%
bare their behinds. As Judith Posner put it, “Objectification is the object-like character of
an image that connotes passivity, vulnerability, property, and, in its most extreme form,
victimization.”

So why are women objectified and degraded in these ways? To put it succinctly, sex
sells. Provocative images of partially clothed or naked women grab the viewer’s attention.
Women become sexual objects when their bodies and sexuality are linked to products.
Advertisements that display sections of women’s bodies—thighs, breasts, legs, etc.—as
opposed to the bodies in their entirety reinforce the erroneous notion that women are
objects rather than human beings.

As though the unattainable standards of beauty and sexual objectification weren’t
enough, the portrayal of female professionals in the media, despite having improved
steadily over the last 20 years, continues to be, for the most part, negative. Female
professionals and athletes are under-represented in the media, and are often portrayed
stereotypically when they are. The reason for this is what one Internet user calls
a “historical hangover”—in the past, women were discouraged from entering many career
fields, and discriminated against for being “weaker” than men, and this foul prejudice has

unfortunately carried over into the present.

“The dogma of woman’s complete historical subjection to men must be rated as one
of the most fantastic myths ever created by the human mind.”— Mary Ritter Beard.

Female politicians are often stereotyped as conniving and shrewd. For
example, when Hillary Clinton was first lady, she was referred to as a “witch”
or “witchlike” by the media at least 50 times. “Male political figures may be
called mean and nasty names, but those words don’t usually reflect superstition
and dread. Did the press ever call Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, or Clinton
warlocks?” observes Professor Caryl Rivers. Similarly, when it comes to sports, men
are more likely to be called “”big,” “strong,” “brilliant,” “gutsy” and “aggressive”
by commentators and press, whereas women are more often referred to
as “weary,” “fatigued,” “frustrated,” “panicked,” “vulnerable” and “choking.”

The Association of Women Journalists (AFJ) conducted a study of news coverage
of women in 70 countries. The study reported that 18% of stories quote women, and
that women-related stories accounted for only 10% of total news coverage. Only 9% of
guests on Sunday morning news shows are women. Even then, they only speak 10% of
the time, leaving the remaining 90% of the time to male guests. On sports channels, a
meager 9% of airtime is devoted to female sports, compared to 88% for men. 97% of sports
commentators are men.

Very recently, Richard Keys and Andrew Gray, two male soccer commentators,
found themselves in hot water after their sexist diatribe against female linesman Sian
Massey and Apprentice star Karren Brady was caught on tape (the pair had incorrectly
believed that the microphones were off). What I have here is a transcript of a part of their
exchange.

Keys: Somebody better get down there and explain offside to her.

Gray: Can you believe that? A female linesman. Women don’t know the offside rule.

And, later on in the conversation:

Keys: The game’s gone mad. Did you hear charming Karren Brady this morning complaining
about sexism? Do me a favor, love.

The scandal triggered uproar from female bloggers and forum users. The
metaphorical icing on the cake is the fact that Sian Massey’s offside call was actually correct
and the commentators were wrong. It was a good call and she had a very good game–

which is a whole lot more than I can say for some of her male colleagues, but you don’t hear
people questioning the abilities of their gender when they make unclear calls.

By now, I hope I’ve convinced you that women are portrayed negatively and
unrealistically in the media. Granted, the portrayal of women in the media has improved
over the last 20 or so years, but we still have a ways to go before: the standards of what
is “beautiful” are healthy, attainable and realistic; before women are no longer objectified;
and before female professionals are portrayed fairly. I encourage all of you to resist being
swayed by preposterous stereotypes and unachievable “ideals,” and to remember that in
doing so you are not being prudish, but are addressing a real problem and issue that has
very real ramifications on the lives and esteem of women. Thank you.

Game ON!

April20

This week, in addition to completing seven activities, we also must participate in a game called “count out three,” in which I randomly select a student from the student list (“one”), click on a blog on their blogroll (“two”), then click on a blog from their blogroll (“three”). Then, I am to leave a comment on a post on that blog that I found interesting. The game must be played no fewer than three times. Let’s do this!

Round 1
I winded up on a blog called “Marshall the Insane Squrrel,” and found myself face to face with an image of a–surprise!–squirrel, armed with what appears to be a miniature cannon, and donning a camoflauge cap on its head. Okay. The man behind the madness, Marshall, defines himself and his blog as follows:
“Not your everyday blogger. Hope you enjoy randomness! If you get thirsty, try out my kool-aid in the sidebar.”
I like randomness and uniqueness, so from the get-go I knew I would like this blog. I chose the post “A funny post” because it showcases the blogger’s randomness at its best, and made me giggle :D.

Round 2
I found myself on Maddi’s Blog, which is formatted fantastically (try saying that five times fast). In her words, her blog is “alphabiographical…that is, each post will be a word significant in my life, from A to Z.” I chose the post “A is for Averil” because it was a touching testament to her best friend (“So many words could describe her, but really, she’s just a down-to-earth, optimistic, dance loving person, and hopefully we will be friends for many years to come”).

Round 3

I wound up on Ruth T.Y.’s blog, whose cupcake-inspired background gave me a case of the warm fuzzies and made me feel jubilant and comforted (not to mention hungry 😉 ). I chose the post “Retreat” because it was detailed and articulately written.

And that, readers, concludes my game of count on three. It’s been a blast. Diwa out.


My Blog, Worldle-fied

April20

Yes, I am aware that “wordle-fied” is not a word. 😉

blog wordle

Top Ten Trivia Tidbits

April15

If you’ve read this post, you know that trivia is an area of interest for me (there is even a trivia widget on this blog’s sidebar!). I live for hoarding useless yet interesting pieces of information that I can recite at random times, impressing–and by “impressing,” I mean annoying 😉 –my family members and friends.  So, I have compiled a list of ten facts you may not know. In no particular order, here they are:

1.  Contrary to popular belief, the Dead Sea is not the saltiest in the world. That honor goes to Lake Asaal in Dijibouti. The Dead Sea contains 340 grams of salt per liter, compared to 400 grams per liter for Lake Asaal. Unlike the Dead Sea, however, you wouldn’t want to take a swim in Lake Asaal–a putrid stench emanates from it and it is filled with sharp shards of crystalized salt.

2. The chess term “checkmate” originated from the Persian phrase “shah mat,” which translates to “the King is dead.”

3.  Have you ever gone for a length of time thinking the lyrics to a song were one thing, only to find out you were completely wrong? This phenomenon is called a “mondegreen.” A popular example is “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” from Jimmy Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” (the actual lyrics are “Excuse me while I kiss the sky).

4. Lobsters have no vocal chords or pain receptors–the “scream” they emit when being cooked is air escaping their shells.

5. It is a myth (albeit a popular one) that pirates made miscreants, prisoners, etc. walk the plank. Instead, they did the most obvious thing: they tossed them overboard.

6. The sound you hear when you snap your fingers is not caused by the connection of your thumb and middle finger– it is the sound of your middle finger hitting the base of your thumb. Try it and see!

7. In 18th century English gambling dens, a person was hired solely to swallow the dice, should a police raid occur.

8. Have you ever held a seashell to your ear? The sound you hear is in fact that of your blood flowing through your veins! This effect can also be heard when you hold a cup to your ear.

9. In 17th Century England, a woman had, on average 13 children. To put that into perspective, I can hardly keep a goldfish alive for two weeks!

10. Hyperthymesia is a condition (known to exist in only four humans so far) in which a person retains an almost perfect memory of everything they have experienced. A hyperthymestic person can be asked a date, and describe the events that occurred that day, what the weather was like, and many seemingly trivial details that most people would not be able to recall.

Purple

April11

The following is a prose poem written by yours truly one English class. Offer opinions or constructive criticism in the comments section; I’m genuinely interested in what you guys think! Enjoy! 🙂

Purple

There is literally
no hue,
no shade,
no chroma
of the color purple
that I don’t like.
Amethyst,
aubergine,
biloba,
cabbage,
eggplant,
fuchsia,
heliotrope,
hibiscus,
lavender,
lilac,
loganberry,
lotus,
magenta,
mauve,
murrey,
orchid,
pebanje,
plum,
psychedelice,
purpure,
royal,
shocking,
thistle,
tyrian,
violet,
wisteria–
you name it, I know and love it.
The color purple
evokes feelings
of well-being,
of euphoria,
of warmth.
The majestic color
paints in my mind
an image of a king draped in a purple robe made from the finest silk.
It elevates my good moods
and alleviates my sour ones.
Amethysts,
my favorite precious stones,
are purple.
Grapes,
my favorite fruits,
are purple.
Petunias,
my favorite flowers,
are purple also.
In case you hadn’t already guessed,
purple
is my favorite color.

My Digital Footprint

April11

It’s become a sort of rule of thumb for me to not post anything on the Internet that I wouldn’t post on a football scoreboard. 🙂 No matter how safe or private you may think your personal information is, this is the INTERNET, people. Back in the day, when I was an avid Facebook user, I would post SUPER personal status updates. I mean, it was just Facebook, right?
Wrong. In fact, a recent survey concluded that most Facebook users are not sharing or hiding what they think they are.
Ah, to be young and naiive again. *reminisces* I’ll spare you a novel; long story short, I learned that it is best to reveal only what you must on the Internet, be it when you’re signing up for a website, or are lallygagging about on a social network.
When signing up for a website, I only fill in those fields that are required. Anything else is unnecessary and potentially detrimental to my digital footprint, so I figure there is no point in filling it out. When I Google my name, this blog, my Facebook account (which I haven’t used since the summer of 2010 and may as well disable), and my Twitter (which I have not, do not, and probably will never use) appear. So nothing too bad :).

Take your digital footprint into account the next time you engage in nettlesome tomfoolery on the Internets 😉

Foreign Language Post: Jokes in Tagalog

April10

Nandito ang ilan sa mga Pilipino jokes. Sana’y magustuhan nyo!

1. Isang magandang karanasan sa buhay ng ma “tanga.” Isan araw, naglalakad and tana papuntang school. Subalist sa kanang paglalakad, meron siyang isan bagay na nakta at napatigid ito! At ibinulong niya sa sariling “parang tae “yun, ah.” Ngunit kanyang binalewala ito. At muli siyang nagpatuloy sa paglalakad. Ngunit napaisp siya sa kanyang nakita at snabi uling, “parang tae talage ‘un” at kanyang binalikan nito at kanyang tinikmn. At bigla siyang napasigaw at sinabing “TAE nga buti na lang di ko naapakan!”

2. Aling ang mas mahirap? Ang ngongo na pinapakanta ng teacher sa class? O an mga kaklase na nakiking sa ngongo na pag tumawa ay ibabagsak ng teacher?

3. Sa isang jeep, may aleng kulang ang pamasahe…
Ale: Ma, bayad ko!
Driver: Kulang pa ho ng 50 sentimos. Lumampas na kayo ng ilang metro.
Ale: Iatras mo na lang.

The Importance of Tags and Categories

April8

Categories and tags are requisite if your blog is to be easy to navigate. I am one for analogies, so I look at categories in this way: your blog is a room that is bare but for a single file cabinet. When your blog has no categories, your documents (posts) are scattered on the floor throughout the room, visible but disorganized and tedious to find. When your blog does have categories, the documents are tucked away neatly in the file cabinet, filed according to topic. Tags enable you to speedily locate posts so that you don’t have to sift through the entire contents of a blog in search of one entry.

Happy blogging!

Themes

April8

I chose the “Noteook Chaos” blog theme primarily because it makes my blog resemble a diary, something I have tried time and time again to keep but have never been successful at staying consistent with. (I’ll begin journaling one of these days, just you wait! I will stop procrastinating…tomorrow). It’s aesthetically pleasing (the first thing we all look for 🙂 and caught my eye immediately; the vivid colors and lovely patterns made choosing this theme a no-brainer for me.

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“I Love Thinking But Do Too Much”

April7

Attributions:
Original image: “depth
depth

Original image: “My heart is a lollipop
My heart is a lollipop

Original image: “Holiday portrait
Holiday portrait

Original image: “Zebra’s Butt
Zebra's Ass

Original image: “It is a Wonderful World
It is a Wonderful World

Original image: “Too, Too, Two
To, Too, Two...

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