Can the image of men and women as presented in media and culture nowadays be an expression of misogyny? Or even enhance it? As I’m writing a series on the demands of ‘beauty’ throughout the ages and their effect on women and men, these questions strike me as highly interesting.
An excerpt of the Media Education Foundation’s 2008 documentary, “Generation M: Misogyny in Media and Culture.”
The accompanying text of the foundation:
Despite the achievements of the women’s movement over the past four decades, misogyny remains a persistent force in American culture. In this important documentary, Thomas Keith, professor of philosophy at California State University-Long Beach, looks specifically at misogyny and sexism in mainstream American media, exploring how negative definitions of femininity and hateful attitudes toward women get constructed and perpetuated at the very heart of our popular culture.
The film tracks the destructive dynamics of misogyny across a broad and disturbing range of media phenomena: including the hyper-sexualization of commercial products aimed at girls, the explosion of violence in video games aimed at boys, the near-hysterical sexist rants of hip-hop artists and talk radio shock jocks, and the harsh, patronizing caricatures of femininity and feminism that reverberate throughout the mainstream of American popular culture.
Along the way, Generation M forces us to confront the dangerous real-life consequences of misogyny in all its forms – making a compelling case that when we devalue more than half the population based on gender, we harm boys and men as well as women and girls.
Slim, tanned or white, faces without imperfections, muscled. Sexy, provocative, aggressive. All imperfections covered up under a layer of foundations, lipstick, hair extensions. All perfections emphasized by a minimum of clothes. And the things that can’t be obscured are photo shopped – or whatever other program is used.
These sexy role models give the impression of glamour, of success in life, of friends, parties and money. Of a happy and exciting lifestyle.
Do these messages in media and culture demean women? Demean men? Lead to misogyny? Young people can easily be influenced by the message media are giving on desired behaviour and appearance. If you look good, you are good. Talk and act tough. Appearance over personality. And though the examples given in this documentary don’t all apply, still the overall message is true in my opinion. But to focus this merely on America is nonsense: it is global!
People can not live up to the images as presented in the media. More importantly: people do not NEED to live up to that image. Where is the intellect? Where is individuality? Where is growing older with grace and pride? Where are YOU? Age and life in general have an effect on the way we look. And we are good enough as we are, damn it!
Mind you, I’m not saying we should eat as much as we want to. Or not try to be fit – taking care of our health is very important. Or dress nicely if it makes you feel good. But the impossible ‘standards’ as overall presented are ridiculous and even undesirable.
Sending out a personal call for more natural role models in the media. For the importance of personality. For mutual respect.
Tell me. What is YOUR opinion on this subject?