Despite the growing age of time and the vast changes of society, many women are still held up to the same gender roles as they were since the beginning of time. When people think about the peak of inequality towards women many think of the 1930- 1950’s. However, if you truly think about it women have always been held to a certain standard and told to act a certain way to better the image of their husband and families. Although these standards are not as extreme today, gender inequality is still seen frequently in a day to day life such as unequal opportunities and pay in the workplace (as you can see from the graph “Sexism in the United States”), social situations and music. The articles Becoming Members of Society: Learning The Social Meanings of Gender by Aaron H. Devor, Why Are All Cartoon Mother’s Dead? By Sarah Boxer and From Fly-Girls to Bitches and Hos by Joan Morgan all talk about ways gender inequality affects society in everyday life.
“Sexism in the United States.” http://caitlinclercsweebly.weebly.com/the-problem.html
When we are born girls are wrapped in pink blankets and boys are wrapped in blue. We do not waste anytime exposing our children to sexism. Aaron H. Devor writes that, “children begin to settle into a gender identity between the age of 18 months and 2 years” (472). These ages are super important to a child’s development and society continuously reinforces the fact that boys are suppose to act this way and girls another. “Masculinity is usually characterized by dominance and aggression and femininity by passivity and submission,” (Devor 475). Not only are women and men generalized by their personalities they are also characterized by their body postures, speech patterns, and styles of dress. “In a study a group of school children were asked to identify the gender of a doll. Only 17% based the gender off of the primary sex characteristic and looked more at hair length and clothing style,” (Devor 474). These characterizations are so strong that when someone does something slightly out of the ‘usual’ they are criticized and made fun of. “Society demands different gender performances and rewards, tolerates, or punishes us differently for conformity to, or digression from, social norms,” (Devor 472).
“The mothers in the movies were either gone or useless. And the father figures? To die for!” (Boxer 87). In Boxer’s article, Why Are All Cartoon Mother’s Dead?, she writes about a topic that hasn’t received much attention in the past, why all mother figures in children’s movies are dead. This can relate back to the first article because once again children are being targeted at a young age. Not many people realize that they are being exposed to this kind of thing so early on, but using animated movies to subliminally teach their children that boys are stronger than girls physically and mentally is having a huge, negative impact on equality. Boxer uses one of the most classic animated movies of all time, Shrek, as an example. Writing, “but when it comes time for Fiona’s own father, a frog king, to pass down the crown, he offers it not to her, but to her ogre husband,” (91). Notice the fact the she italicized the word ‘her’ to emphasize that the only reason why Fiona’s own father would choose some else to do a job that his own offspring was born to do is because she is a woman. Boxer also uses one of the most recent animated films to come out, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, as another example of sexism, not of ability to perform a task, but of personality. They portrayed the female role, Penny, as “A vintage valley girl with a hint of gold digger.” (Boxer 93). She ends her article by encouraging movies to give everyone credit, “it’s a view of what animated movies could be- not another desperate attempt to assert the inalienable rights of men, but an incredible world where everyone has the rights and powers, even the mothers.” (Boxer 94). Displaying strong female characters would help the situation hugely, therefore, it is critical to be mindful of the stuff you’re allowing your children to see.
Continuing with sexism in the media, Joan Morgan the author of From Fly-Girls to Bitches and Hos describes how the sexist lyrics of rap music is very influential in teens lives. Throughout her article you can see she feels strongly about the issue and expresses her concerns writing, “music that repeatedly reduces me to tits and ass and encourages pimping on the regular” (Morgan 534). Not only are the lyrics of many rap songs sexist, the music videos are also very degrading to women. They often times display women as nothing more than sexual objects for men. There are hundreds of songs that display women negatively that receive so much positive attention. This in turn shows young men that treating women like they are their property is okay, when actually it is the exact opposite. Morgan writes, “ why is disrespecting me one of the few things that make them feel like men?” (535). As you can see displayed in Table 3, the numbers of women displayed in a sexual way are greater than the number of men in media.
“You’ve got to love people for who they are, not who you want them to be” (Morgan 535). This quote is extremely important. Why do we as a society waste so much energy trying to force people to pretend they are someone they are not and then tirelessly tear them down when they show any part of who they truly are. The only way to change this is to start teaching your children young. Make sure your children know it is okay for girls to be good at sports, have short hair, wear something other than a dress and want more to life then to just raise children and depend on a man. And the same goes for boys, it is one hundred percent okay for them to like things like dancing, or for them to have longer hair, like to cook, and enjoy being around children. Teaching your children to have a good disposition early is so crucial. It is one thing to tell them that being different is okay, but it is another to actually show them how to act respectfully and accept people’s uniqueness. If we do not show our children this from the very beginning nothing is going to change. Women will still get paid less, be seen as inferior and pregnancy will still be seen as a disease in the business world. No one wants anything more than an equal shot at doing something they love. Stop teaching your kids to deny someone that happiness based solely on their gender and start teaching them to treat one another as equals in this world.
“Appearance Indicators by Gender Within Media.”http://www.indiewire.com, September 30, 2016.
Boxer, Sarah. “Why Are All The Cartoon Mothers Dead?” Rereading America, edited by Gary Colombo et al., 10th ed., Bedford/ st. Martin’s, 2016, pp 86-94.
Devor, Aaron H. “Becoming Members of Society: Learning the Social Meanings of Gender.” Rereading America, edited by Gary Colombo et al., 10th ed. Bedford/ st. Martin’s, 2016, pp 471-49.
Morgan, Joan. “From Fly Girls to Bitches and Hos.” Rereading America, edited by Gary Colombo et al., 10th ed., Bedford/ st. Martin’s, 2016, pp 533-38.
“Sexism in the United States.”caitlinclercsweebly.weebly.com, September 30, 2016.