The Effects of Womxn Portrayal in Films
For an unknown amount of time, which could be hundreds or thousands of years womxn have been diminished in society. From cultural to social norms there has always been a rule in which every womxn must abide to. To act a certain way, how to dress, what a womxn can or cannot do to their body, the way of speaking, and in certain situations to whom they must marry. For many years the main figure behind this has been a man. Before womxn even had the opportunity to voice out their opinion and stand up for themselves it seemed as if their life was simply planned out by their parents or a man.
In modern day this sort of scheme that seemed like a normality back in the day does not flow so easily today. Throughout recent years womxn have fought to be seen as equals and get the respect they deserve. But being in male dominated world several obstacles still seem to get in the way and the media can be considered a portion that adds onto that problematic obstacle. A womxn is considered a minority regardless of race. The media has portrayed womxn in diminishing ways that affect the way womxn are viewed. Making it hard in the workforce, breaking out of cultural norms, and education. The media has sexualized, diminished, and abused both physically and mentally womxn.
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Believe it or not films have brainwashed society into believing that actions that are definitely not okay could simply be shrugged off or over looked. The concept of No meaning yes, or simply using the excuse of boys will be boys have allowed generations to continue acting the way that they do. Concepts like these have been used to justify an unacceptable behavior it has been used as secret way of encouragement. Old mentalities like these have truly affected a lot of the minds today and if nothing continues to get done it will continue to happen in future generations and will possibly create an even bigger problem.
There was an interesting case that happened at Yale University. A fraternity known as Delta Kappa Epsilon, in which it is very well known because the Bushes were part of the fraternity in their time. This fraternity decided that it was a good idea to have their pledgees as part of their initiation process to stand outside of a womxn’s center and chant “No means yes, and yes means anal”. The fraternity was removed from campus under suspension, but when this story reached the media it turned out that there had previously been cases in which several college girls had been raped. A student whose name was left unknown said that when she found out about the situation, she got the courage to be able to speak up about what had happened to her. But little to her luck nothing was exactly done except giving her abuser a suspension .
Many films such as Straw Dogs, The last Tango in Paris, Saturday Night Fever and several other films who portray rape or sexual assault as no big deal have definitely made a great impact on the way society views this kind of behavior. These kinds of malicious behaviors shown within films have very serious consequences in real life. Having committed sexual assault or rape can have a person from 4-60 years in jail depending on the severity of the case here in Illinois. Even then a lot of people still see it as a joke because it’s shown on the big screen. An online news show, The Young Turks, talked about the incident that occurred at Yale, and towards the end of the topic the cast gave the interpretation that it was simply a “clever but dumb joke”. This episode was given by two men and a womxn. Instantly the two men after playing the video began to justify the pledgees chant by stating that it’s just a dumb boy college trick and that boys will be boys.
The idea in which for several generations people have always used the concept of boys will be boys to justify an inappropriate behavior or simply shrug it off is quite concerning. This term has created a lot of barriers between girls and boys as well as supporting gender inequality. A child’s mind is an incredible thing because of all the information it retains and learns growing up. The media is a very powerful tool because what kids learn by watching they will do.
Betsy Bozdech is a journalist from the Alliance of Women film and she stated that, “When kids see outdated gender stereotypes portrayed over and over in media, it can affect the way they think about themselves and their beliefs about what they can grow up to be” . Adding on to that is the encouragement that we give boys when they’re younger or in their teens that boys will be boys. It’s not just a term that is used to describe a dumb mistake that they made but rather encouraging males to grow up and be aggressive or a male chauvinist.
Research professors from Kenyon college argued that, “In feminist sociocultural models of rape, extreme adherence to the masculine gender role is implicated in the perpetuation of sexual assault against women in that it encourages men to be dominant and aggressive, and it teaches that women are inferior to men and are sometimes worthy of victimization” . It is also an addition to the concept that was mentioned earlier in class of how womxn don’t actually know what they want therefore a man has to forcibly kiss them or rape.
The falsification of what love is supposed to look like and how it’s supposed to be attained is quite ridiculous. A shocking film that has been around for many generations and has been shown to mainly younger girls is The Little Mermaid. This film is meant to be about a princess who falls in love with a prince and somehow in the end he ends up saving her from an evil villain and becomes the hero. But in reality, it shows a young girl who falls in love at first sight, which is not commonly likely, and abandons her family, gives up her voice in return to become human and go after what is made to seem as her true love. Who for the most part can’t even remember her throughout the movie. Movies like these have impacted the young minds into growing up thinking that its okay to give up almost every part of yourself to a man.
It ignores the idea of an equally balanced relationship to making it seem that it is okay for the male to have a greater power or say. Not only that but the continuity of these films impacts the sympathy of people or what they view as seriousness. There have been studies in which certain cases that have been taken to court a lot of the victims end up losing because the people feel that it is not all seriousness or that the victim was the one to blame.
The University of Manitoba in Canada did an experiment on campus in which they showed several controversial films especially with heavily sexualized scenarios. The study had consisted of a control and experimental group. They did this by showcasing different films throughout the week. After the films they had students fill out a survey in which their results indicated that by exposing men more frequently to films that portrayed violent sexuality would increase a man’s acceptance of rape fantasies, as well as continuing violent physical or mental abuse against womxn .
Another current event that recently happened in New York; a 26-year-old man who raped a 14-year-old girl received no jail time even though he pleaded guilty. His only punishment was to pay fees and that came along with his probation. There were several arguments going on about how this was a lenient sentence for a sexual assault case. If the judge decided to give this man a low punishment what is the true message that is being sent out to the public. Could this be considered as an open door that has given the facility to be able to take advantage of not just underage kids but other adults as well.
As mentioned before the media is very powerful tool, it impacts so many people because of how accessible it is. In 20 or 30 years from now if the media continues to portray women in the way that it does what hope will humanity have. This is all a very controversial situation because by stopping one thing it creates chaos in another. You can’t keep a person from doing what they want but you can influence and teach just to the younger minds. Our personas are partially built from our surroundings and influencers. It’s very hard to still give freedom expression through film and media and try stopping the diminishing and offensive scenarios. We learned that for a very long-time certain actions were not able to be shown in the media or films, so I ask myself how you can show the audience a person’s form of art without sending the wrong message or leaving a negative impact on societal viewings. Womxn in films and media have been sexualized, diminished, and abused both physically and mentally in which many male directors have been greatly recognized for. In man dominated world how do you actually stop or take away the power to degrade a gender.