Term Paper: Culture and Media Worlds

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Culture and Media Works

Sexual Objectification of Women in Media

Media today is one of the most common grounds used to communicate or get a message across. It has readily increased its accessibility and its reach to people with phenomenon of globalization. Any individual who has access to any form of visual media today knows how the issue of "sex" has become a common term in the media. It is used in different ways and on different levels in different countries but it is reasonable to state that the Sexual Objectification is being used in media today and is presented in such an open manner that it can simply not be disregarded anymore (Hall, 1998).

Be it television, billboards, movies, TV shows, magazines or any other visual media form, sex is now a prominent element that we come across at places where it might be least expected. The recent researchers have now started laying emphasis on this factor and they have become increasingly curious as to why sex cannot be eliminated from media and why the sex issues need to be so highlighted. One of these issues that is becoming increasingly common and is quite eye catching is that of the sexual portrayal of women in media and how the female body is objectified and commoditized in media.

The biological figure of the woman is being used everywhere and for all kinds of purposes whether it fits in or not. The media today emphasizes the external beauty and the need to appear physically good. This materialization and beautification has led to serious sociological implications and is creating many complications in the society. Hence, the question arises why it is necessary to present women as sexual commodities or pieces of attraction in order to sell something or catch the eye of the audience? This report will basically focus on how women are being used by different companies in order to increase the sales of their products and create awareness about the brand they sell. We shall look into the portrayal of women in advertising mostly and how the female body is being used in unnecessary places and in ways which are largely inappropriate (Thornham, 2007).

It is important to know and recognize just how this media portrayal impacts the minds of the young children watching television as well as the way women are being undermined in society and this objectification helps to reinforce the level of patriarchy in the society. Some concepts were previously classified as taboo but they are slowly losing that term and are being brought into the mainstream. Researchers suggest that some of the social problems that exist today are due to the bold attitude that the media has undertaken and the frustration that it has started to create among the masses. This leads too much of the problems that see the root cause as the media. The media holds the power to incorporate positive as well as negative images due to the immense power that it holds. But it is quite saddening to see how the power is being misused to send out negative themes.

There is much supervision needed by the parents due to the sexually explicit and inappropriate content shown on the media. The following section presents scholarly arguments and some theories that deal with the reasons and the ways in which women are sexually objectified in the media and the implications that this has on the society and how it gives rise to numerous problems. It will also deal with why this is such an important issue to know about and deal with in order to put an end to women commoditization (Galician, 2004).

Literature Review

As discussed above, the recent trend in the sexual objectification of women and the portrayal of the female body in the media is becoming quite a disturbing issue. The main modes of media that are being a part of this is firstly advertising, in the form of TV Commercials, billboards, magazine and print ads. This has found to be the most common use and link to this portrayal of the women. However, there are some theories and researchers have been laying quite a lot of emphasis into probing why this is happening and what the societal implications of this are.

The first theory that can be taken under consideration is the sexual objectification theory by Frederickson & Roberts, 1997 which present what this statement actually means. According to this theory, women are subjects of sexual objectification and they are mainly seen as commodities and objects to be sold and attracted by their beauty. In the field of media, the women herself is treated as a separate entity from her body and it is usually her body parts that are the focus and in the lime light which appeals to the men and is presented as a mere fulfillment of the desire that men have (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997).

This above outlined theory has some serious implications as the sad effects are concerned and how the world now revolves around the external beauty and the need to look good. This has given rise to many of the psychological, social and health related issues that are common to find among women these days. Today, we come across the eating disorders and the diets the young females subject to because they are constantly conscious and aware of their looks and their appearance. This concept of beautification is becoming so common and so out there that is quite difficult to disregard its presence. In fact, the younger generation is now instilling these values and adopting these concepts to levels that are harmful.

The main motive of argument here in Fredrickson and Roberts' theory is that instead of recognizing the implications and what this objectification is doing to women, they end up placing more and more emphasis on their outer appearances and become a part of this race to be conscious of their looks. This results in a form of self-objectification. This has negative impacts on the psychological development of the women because they are constantly thinking about what they are supposed to eat, what kind of clothes they need to wear to look slim, they have increasingly become weight conscious, skin conscious and they have called on this constant state of worry upon themselves. This has also given rise to a lot of health problems and diseases due to the lack of proper diet that the women intake (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997).

Fredrickson and Roberts also states that due to this emphasis on physical beauty, women are always anxious about their look and how they are being judged from the eyes of another woman and how it might be an act of shame to not be in their best looks. This attraction that they have to offer through the constant care and flashing of their body has given rise to a form of frustration in society on part of men as well because of the way women themselves present their bodies and create a threat of rape upon them. Moradi and Huang, 2008 have conducted their research upon the implications and negative aspects that are attached with this self objectification that women have become a part of and the fact of the matter that the internal beauty and the personality has gone somewhere at the back end where no one seems to care about it.

As the concept of women commoditization has become a bit known, researchers have now started directing their concerns towards the power of media and how the advertising has played its part in creating this huge issue in our society. Extensive researches have been conducted on the negative aspects of women objectification and it turns out that the common ground problems that exist can be pointed out as depression, shame of the body, eating disorders, constant awareness of body shame and looks, diseases and health problems, sexual dysfunctional problems. These are just a couple of the most common problems outlined but the list does not exactly stop here. Kilbourne, 2002 has taken up the research process of getting to the bottom of the role of media in this development of conscious attitudes and the prevalence of the women portrayal. This has led to serious dismemberment of the women population in our society and the main link that can be traced back to this objectification (Kilbourne, 2002).

Kilbourne's main role to play here was to analyze the strength of the media and the advertising industry and then to assess the power that this form of media plays to create this problem in our society. It is quite noticeable that we come across thousands of advertisements every day of our lives and in various different forms. This multibillion dollar industry called the advertising industry possesses the power beyond the comprehension of our words. It has the power to control what we say, what we do, how we act, how we appear, who we meet and in other words it knows… [END OF PREVIEW]

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