We look left and right, and what do we see? We see ads, we hear ads, it has become part of our daily routine and second skin. Have we as people ever really analyzed what the media portrays in front of us?
If we look at what is show cased on television today, we see a handful of shows with a male protagonist, and a female love interest, but we also see a handful of shows with a strong female character. One show in particular, to which I could identify somewhat with was Quantico. It stars international, South Indian, Bollywood entertainer Priyanka Chopra, a lady to which I admire these days. What society has taught us that typically, this would be a bold step in for any ‘brown skinned girl’ or a girl of color- yet Chopra states, that she doesn’t feel this is anything out of the ordinary. She states when asked the question whether she felt she crossed any boundaries,
” I don’t know if it’s the right thing to say or not, but I believe we’ve created borders with too many colors. I don’t like [when people say], It’s a great time for women of color.” No, I’m just a woman. Black, brown, white, yellow — why are we always talking about colors? I’m a girl. I believe in a global community…. And if I can quote Robin Thicke, I believe in blurred lines. Entertainment is entertainment, cast the right person for the job. Let’s get beyond looking at each other for where we come from.”
She creates a strong point for women who are considered the ‘minority’ in the media. We, as ladies really should not be considered anything less than what we are- which is a human the being.
Yet, the media doesn’t seem to bring this thought. Men are considered the ‘alpha’, the stronger, powerful, the people who have their s*** together, who have that trophy wife, and who is just the dominant of anything. Women, are to consider themselves weak, and unreliable, to always scrutinize themselves, and see themselves as imperfect, to continuously look for ways to make ourselves ‘better.’
The characteristics that define a man typically go as follows: logical, fearless/strong, tough, ambitious, brave, aggressive, rational, financial provider, etc. What is described to be a man is to basically, be the dominant of any situation. Cultures, especially our own tend to privilege one ‘type’- when it comes to the sexes, it will always be male. When it comes to how the media portrays masculinity, there is always a pattern, whether it be the Hero vs Villain, or US vs Them, which leads to the Good vs Evil narrative. This is a common theme in most media television, movies, ads, etc. and whether we realize it or not, this cultural context affects how we see men. It corresponds with politics, to our day to day lives, to how we are hired, to what we fantasy in our ideal partner.
We as audiences, I feel, unless really educated or keen in learning about how the media affects us, don’t really seem to bother with the effects of it. It is great entertainment and a time pass, as well as makes for great conversation. Going back to my reference to Quantico, there are male figures in the show- actually a variety of them. We are shown the typical ‘definition’ of a male-strong, bold, tough, with a little stubble, muscular/toned, then we are also shown the jock type, smooth with his words, easy going on the eyes, and also the nerdy/geeky, scrawny type- the one where the average girl wouldn’t really take to too much notice, of course, there is also the dominant ‘alpha male’ as one of the superiors. Yet, because this is to be a female oriented show, there is also a diverse group of females, one being Chopra, the not-so-typical heroine, with her ensemble cast beside her, with the superior/boss as a lady. The ladies of the show all show male characteristics, this could be because of the story line (being that they all are training to be FBI agents), yet even so- they are somewhat underrated.
Misogyny in the media is so, so very common. With several of the articles that I had done research on, all seem to critique the shows for poor performance and lack of a story. This makes me wonder had it been an American girl portraying the role of Chopra-would they be talking along such lines? What if it was a guy? A particular article with Indiatoday.in, title was ”C’mon Priyanka, You Can Do Better than Quantico.” What does this mean exactly? Why are people so harsh on girls, especially ones who break boundaries. Women, are underrepresented in the media, never really appreciated. We can always ‘do better’, ‘look better’, ‘improve.’ There were hardly any articles praising Chopra of her performance, or the fact that she is taking the next best step in her career.
Another lady writer, who is claimed to have broken barriers is Shonda Rhimes. She told in an interview on ABC when she was credited for breaking barriers with casting,
“Yeah. I mean, I feel like the television landscape should look like the world we see outside …,” she said. “The package that people come in is the package that they come in. What’s inside is what’s the most interesting thing.”
A simple statement, if only the world, and its views took it this way. In another article, it was actually titled, “Shonda Rhimes Empowers Daughters To Have “Amazing Sex.” Seriously? I mean seriously, this was titled to get the audience’s attention, but really read into it- it has several meanings, one being that we are used for pleasure and sex. That is what is appealing about women. Even on Rhimes, hit show Scandal, it is really about that fantasy life- no matter how heroine oriented the film is. The president is a Caucasian, and his now leading lady and African American is by his side, romancing him even though she is to be portrayed as powerful. Each show seems to have sex as a way for women to attain power, and the fact of the matter is, that is what girls see and learn from- really, you don’t have to use your sexuality to be empowered in the world. Just be yourself and use your smarts.
The media is the message and the messenger, if we continue to give mixed messages on gender, the future generations to come will only pass by such things as nothing. Girls from a very young age get the idea the looks are what matter and their value depends on how they look, not how smart they are, how intellectual they may be and how instilling and motivating individuals they can aspire to become. What men see in the media is ad’s about power- they seem to have it all easy and laid out for them- that their life will be effortless- all they have to do is be a guy, while women have the constant need to better themselves. Society needs to be open to the concept that women are able beings. This idea that it may be too soon for change to happen couldn’t be more thrown out. Change needs to happen now, and change needs to start with the media.