Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Soap Box

Warning, this is another post based on a crusade.

We watched a couple of videos in class last night. One of them was the third in a series. I have seen the first two versions in my abnormal psychology class. I am not going to post the preview or youtube clip, but you can watch it here if you want to. Don't go watch it until I have set up the video and given you a warning.

From the Media Education Foundation website:

Jean Kilbourne continues her groundbreaking analysis of advertising's depiction of women in this most recent update of her pioneering Killing Us Softly series. In fascinating detail, Kilbourne decodes an array of print and television advertisements to reveal a pattern of disturbing and destructive gender stereotypes. Her analysis challenges us to consider the relationship between advertising and broader issues of culture, identity, sexism, and gender violence.

Sections: Does the beauty ideal still tyrannize women? Does advertising still objectify women's bodies? Are the twin themes of liberation and weight control still linked? Is sexuality still presented as women's main concern? Are young girls still sexualized? Are grown women infantilized? Are images of male violence against women still used to sell products?

The video is full of images of ads that do not portray women as wholesome and virtuous, so don't say I didn't warn you. Because this is a family freindly blog, I am not going to post the clip here and you will have to go watch it.

On the flip side, we also watched this video.

So, what are your thoughts? Let's have a discussion.


add to kirtsy


David G. Woolley said...

I disagree with the man video. First off the moderator interviewed post high school adolecent figures. Of course they're going to say strong, independent, tough and what was the fourth one? Macho? They're still trying to get a grip on the natural man. And they're not going to answer any questions with their spiritual self because you, Mr. researcher, have programmed nearly everyone to not only ignore, but to out right reject the possibility that man could be a spiritual being not only a natural human being.

Men don't hide emotional traits-- tears being the most picked on by reserachers because they're so visible. They hide them because it isn't logical. I love you so I cry? That's not logical. I love God so I cry? Illigoical again. Deeply held emotions aren't held back by some sociological black market school of manhood. Sorry all you social psychologists out there trying to make a living by your natural man theories. Men are inherently logical creatures. That character trait trumps all your ivory tower theories. Men are inherently protectors. Trumped you again. They inherited their inherentness from their father in heaven. Trumped one more time.

So next time you try to peddle your social theory crap as darwinian social evolution of modern male psychoses, remember this: we're only part human. Our greater selves, our character traits, have nothing to do with the natural man theories on this planet. Its when tough and strong and independent meets the kind, peacful and followers of Christ your theories get all skewed.

Sandra said...

Ok, I amformulating my response to David. I'll post it later today when I get home from work. In the mean time, the rest of you continue discussing.

ali said...

I watched both videos. I was particularly struck by the woman's statement that all of us think that advertising doesn't affect US. It hit me, because I realized she was totally right. I thought advertising didn't affect me, and yet, I am totally unhappy with how I look and constantly strive to do my makeup so I don't look like I have any pores, lol.

I am also the mother to boys and while I in part agree with David's comment, I also think there is validity in what the video said.

I think for a lot of men, they are able to take their faith in God, their knowledge that they are sons of God, and allow that to color their personalities, and to determine how they behave: as righteous men.

However, the bulk of society does not hold to such a profound spiritual faith and they are thrust to and fro by the dictates of society.

As a young woman, before I ever hit sixteen, I was first molested by an uncle and a brother. I was raped by a teenage boy. I was beaten up by a different teenage boys.

All of these boys and men wanted something, something that I would not give. And so they TOOK. Particularly in the case of the two teenage boys, they wanted, they took, and they believed they acted in the way society wanted of them.

They were STRONG. They didn't take NO for an answer. They showed me who was boss.

Now, I also knew many boys, who were kind, gentle and would never do what these other two boys did. And they were totally popular among the girls especially, lol, but also among the boys.

So being STRONG, INDEPENDANT and RESPECTED are not mutually exclusive, but they are definitely powerful mojo for the young man.

I think so much goes back to parenting. I think it's up to us, as parents, to help our young men grow to find independance, strength and self-respect through virtuous means.

I think it's up to us to raise our daughters to love themselves, and not to rely on what others think of us. As a grown woman who still struggles with that concept, I have no idea how we'd do that. Thankfully, I don't have daughters so I don't have to try - I only have myself to worry about.

I thought the videos were really interesting Sandra and I'm not sure I've added anything of value to the discussion here. Only accept my thanks for sharing them, and for allowing the me the opportunity to THINK.

Sandra said...

I didn't post my opinion of the videos on purpose. I was hoping that there would be a bit more discussion (Tawnya?)

Ali- I think that even though you don't have daughters, you still have to try. You do have more to worry about than yourself. You will be fill callings in YW, primary, Sunday School etc. You live in a neighborhood where little girls live and watch the grown ups around them. You influence the type of woman that your boys will marry and you will influence those women as well as their daughters long after you no longer live on this earth. And to be a woman that loves who she is despite what others think is hard when we are so bombarded by media telling us that we are never going to be good enough.

The other day I saw a friend at the school where I work. She is the PTA president. Her uncle is one of the general authorities and her brother is pretty well known in the church as well. She is gorgeous- inside as well as out. I have known her for about 17 years now (I knew her brother when I was at Ricks, but he doesn't remember me, but that is beside the point)

When I saw her the other day, she said to me, "You look so cute today. But then you always look good and your clothes are always so fashionable and cute. I wish I could dress as good as you."

I was flabbergasted! I look in the mirror every morning and see only the flaws, the shirt that doesn't hang right, the color that washes me out, the dress that is 5 years old, the hair that won't do what I want, the make up that isn't flawless ... you get the picture. However, when I see Suzanne, I see poise, grace, love, kindness,beauty queen (which she was by the way)and I wonder why I can't be more like her. Even though I know that she has struggles with the same issues that you and I and every other mom has- I know because we talk about them. And I also know that it is a result of me buying into the voice of the media about what is and isn't the "right" way for me to look, be, and act.

It was when I stopped caring what the world thought, what the scale said other than to judge how on track to health I am, and started caring about what Father thought that I began to be at peace about stuff.

And you always add to the discussion. I love discussing things with you, we don't get to do it often enough.

I am going to address the man video in a comment to Dave, but feel free to join in on that discussion as well.

Sandra said...

David- Jess told me to ask you if you watched the whole 6 minutes of the clip. She said she might comment if you answer that for her.

And I am still thinking about how I want to answer you. That is one thing I like about written conversation, I can write it, erase it, change it until I think it is just right. Unlike verbal conversation where I get tongue tied or blurt something out and the conversation goes in a totally different direction. let me think a few more minutes, ok?

Sandra said...

Wow, David. First thing I want to say is this- Breath, ok?

Of course the post high school adolescents that were interviewed said strong, independent, tough and powerful. In essence- Macho. We didn’t see the adolescents that said sensitive, kind, loving, caring, honest, spiritual. That was not the point that Mr. Katz was making, and we all know how research, interviews and statistics are- you can make them say whatever you want them to say. So David, you are right, everyone was programmed to give the answers that we got and if the answers were anything else, they ended up on the cutting room floor.

But I don’t think that David and Jackson Katz are really so very far apart in opinion. The clip is a little over 6 minutes of a 2 hour video. Mr. Katz talks about a wide variety of things during those 2 hours. In fact one of the things that he says is that we need to examine the way we portray men and offer alternatives as examples to growing boys. We need to stop equating violence with being a “real man”

Jackson Katz uses the evolution of the “protector male figure” in movies as one of his examples. He starts with Humphrey Bogart and his small caliber gun in the 40s & 50s era movies. That eventually evolves to Rambo or The Terminator and their huge missle launcher weapons. Supposedly, society tells us that Rambo or the Terminator is the better protector because they are bigger, have bigger weapons or can use bare hands to do the protecting. Characters played by Bill Murray, Richard Dreyfuss, Steve Martin etc. are not ever billed as heroes, but as bumbling idiots that just get lucky in order to save/protect/win the girl. Mr. Katz has a problem with that. He wants boys to know that it is ok to think/pray/feel/care and yes, even cry when moved upon.

Another part of the movie that was not addressed in the clip is the way men exploit women and other men applaud it. He used Howard Stern (here after known as HS because I don’t want to type his name again) as an example. Mr. Katz showed us a clip of the HS show where he was having a contest to judge women based on physical attributes. Men were rating and commenting and degrading and the women stood there and smiled and said thank you. As angry as I was about what the men were doing, I was even angrier at the women. Why, why, why would you allow that! These women were not being held against their will, being forced to do something they were objecting to- that is a whole different thing all together- No, these women were willing participants. Is it not a woman’s duty to stop that kind of behavior? Should she not command respect with her behavior? When a woman allows that kind of treatment, even participates in it, does she not demean herself? As well as telling men that it is ok for them to treat us that way?

And another thing, how can we as women be so angry about the way the media portays us as innocent victims to be silenced and used by men when we buy into their garbage (pun intended) Do I really need longer, fuller lashes? Polish that won’t chip? Lips color that doesn’t smudge, skin that is baby soft, hair that shines, or whatever? I don’t think that those are going to be the questions on the final exam of my life. Inner beauty trumps outer beauty every time. And the way we treat the men in our lives and around us shows us what kind of beauty we have. Do we allow them to remember that they are only part human. Do we allow them to develop that part that they inherited from our Father in Heaven?

I for one, think that it is illogical for a man to not cry when he feels. It is the unfeeling, uncaring man that I think is illogical. Yes men inherently are protectors and aren’t we as women glad that they are. And aren’t we happy when tough and strong and independent do meet kind, peaceful followers of Christ. Because in the end- that is a real man.

tawnya said...

I'm sick and cranky so I wasn't commenting...

...but since you asked! I think it's ridiculous that people get so up in arms about using sex to sell things. Of course sex sells. Sex sold before they even realized sex sold things. It's always been around. Before "media" women pinched their cheeks to get more color in them to present themselves as more attractive to men. They were, in essence, selling themselves to be the best candidate among the pack.

I also think it's ridiculous to place every woe of modern society on "the media". Bull crap. The media is the media. Sure, there are those who will buy into all of it, there are those who will buy into some of it and there are those who won't buy into any of it. We all have brains for a reason. If you want to blame someone for the ills of society, blame lax parenting (but, then...). A good parent can use media in their life and actually guide their kids into how to navigate it correctly.

I DO think it's important to look your best. I think women, especially in the church, view looking their best as worldly and use it as an excuse to look homely all the time (oh, I can't exercise, I have too much xxx to do; I can't spend money on myself, I have to sacrifice everything to be righteous, etc). I think they are doing a huge injustice to themselves AND their husbands, to a lesser extent, by doing so. Of course you don't need everything advertised, but it will help to look around at what's offered and choose the best FOR YOU in order to look the best you can. So, no, maybe not a final question, but I do believe we'll be held accountable for being the best we can be or if we just totally let our temples go to pot simply as not to 'follow the world'. If you are sacrificing to be a (as you see it) righteous martyr, I don't think that's what is intended.

As for the men, I am MUCH more concerned about the portrayal of men as stupid fat idiots next to their beautiful intelligent wives than I am of excess violence. Maybe that's because I would much rather watch a shirtless Hugh Jackman become a fighting Wolverine than any number of sitcoms...but I'm shallow like that.

Sandra said...

Yes, Tawnya, that is what I was trying to say, though I said it poorly.
I hate sitting in class and listening to the teacher tell us that all the ills of society are the media’s fault. However, I do see children all day long every day that do not have responsible parents, willing to guide and govern their children. These children do bow and worship at the feet of the media and buy into the promise of what they will be if they only____.

As for making the best of yourself, yes, yes, yes we should do that. I actually had someone tell me once that only women of ill repute wore makeup and had their hair done. But that is ok, I for one, would rather look nice than leave my home looking as if I didn’t care about myself at all. And being a righteous martyr is way over rated, in my opinion.

I am concerned about the media’s portrayal of men as mindless brutes, bumbling idiots, fat slobs, not so much for my children, but for those that do not have parental supervision. I try to watch what my children watch and discuss why something is right or wrong or how the writers are using a stereotype. We have had numerous discussions on how the families in sitcoms are not normal. And I don’t like the fat stupid idiot portrayal either. I love men and think they are wonderful and try to tell them and let my children know that I feel that way whenever I can. And Wolverine was always my favorite 

And just so everyone knows- the opinions of the videos are not necessarily mine- I just posted them after we watched them in class. I felt that we did not have a good, nor real discussion in class as everyone agreed with the video opinion. When I tried to bring up some of the points that have been brought out in this discussion, you would have thought that I had announced that I had just released a deadly virus in the room. That is one reason I am doing school counseling and not clinical counseling.

Anna Maria Junus said...

For some reason I couldn't watch either video. They wouldn't upload for me.

But I will put in my two cents about ads.

Advertising is business. That's it. If you have a product you want to sell then you have to figure out a way to let people know that you have it. Ads used to be limited to signs on stores and later to newspapers and magazines. Now advertizing is every where. Advertizing is not the devil. It's a legitamate way to pass on information on products that you can then choose to buy or not.

If I'm trying to sell mascara, then the only thing I have to use to sell it is to tell women that their lashes will be longer, darker and more beautiful. Let's face it, mascara isn't going to solve world problems, it isn't going to feed anyone other than those who make it and sell it, it isn't going to make anyone's life better. What it does do, is make my lashes look longer and darker. So of course I'm going to get a beautiful model or celebrity to sell that product.

The problem isn't in using beautiful people to sell products designed to make us look better (according to our current society standards which change from time to time), it's when we use sexual images to sell non-sexual things. Bikini models on sports cars (although someone could argue that sports cars are sexy). Or worse when sex is selling something and at the end of the commercial we have no idea what it's selling.

And frankly, a lot of it goes too far.

What I do like seeing is our concept of beautiful expanding, like having Queen Latifah as a Cover Girl. Or the recent Dove commercials. Yes there's skin, but there's a respect that goes with it. It's a really smart campaign because they're including their clientel. Instead of saying "if you use our product you will look like this" they're saying "you're beautiful where you are right now and using our products will keep you beautiful."

Yes, women are being sexualized and women are guilty of doing it. What would happen on those modeling shows if the models are stood up together and said "I'm not posing nude." But because they don't and these girls succomb to the pressure, we have nude models. Really, in what ads to you really need to use nudity to sell the product?

When I was a teenager modeling brought to mind the pretty teenagers wearing the latest fashions in the magazines. Now modeling means nudity. Now Oscar winning actresses are performing scenes that only adult film actresses would do. And the pressure is there for anyone who wants to make a living in these businesses.

Now we have girls who refer to themselves proudly as sluts. And lets not forget the whole Girls Gone Wild phenomena. Instead of standing up against it, we seem to be embracing it.

I guess we need to have a different standard of beauty, one that embraces modesty (without going overboard to attract attention), and one that has a broader base of beauty (Size 2 is beautiful but then so is size 20).

And we need to recognize our bodies for what they can do, not for how they look in a bikini.