Tuesday, April 29, 2014

25 Reasons Why We Need Feminism in the Media

I originally wrote this feature for Brilliant Bias.

The media hurts women and prevent society from accepting women as valuable, contributing, equal members of society.  It’s not just from photoshopped ads to show ideal (and unattainable) looks and sizes; it’s everywhere.  Below are 25 examples in music, movies, television, novels, and comic books.

1. “Blurred Lines” exists and actually became a chart topper, a song supporting rape and the blurred lines of consensual and nonconsensual sex.  Singer Charlotte Church discussed pornographic sexuality and the exploitation of women in her speech at BBC 6 Music’s annual John Peel Lecture.  I believe in free speech, but smartly, schools all across the world have banned it.  There’s no point in supporting a song that promotes the idea of rape.  The video is even worse, depicting topless women with nude-colored thongs traipsing around in front of the camera with ridiculous props like they don’t know they look like complete idiots, while Pharrell, T.I., and Robin Thicke look on with lustful eyes and all their clothes on.   

2. When writers don’t know what to do with a female character in television to make her interesting or relatable, the go-to storylines are breast cancer, rape, or pregnancy.  There are plenty of other things that happen to women and plenty of other things that women do.  There are plenty of other cancers to happen to women, too.  Where are the men who get cancer?  Where are the men who are raped?

Leslie Knope, played by Amy Poehler
4. People still don’t watch Parks and Recreation.  Why?  It’s combination of goofiness, dry humor, politics, emotional journeys, and blatant feminism is likely a losing combination, especially for many males.  What feminist doesn’t love Leslie Knope?

5. “Hot” women are married to fat, bald, ugly, or old men.  Rarely is it the opposite.  When the women are older, they’re notoriously cougars.  Do the older men have nicknames?  Look to couples like: Doug and Carrie Heffernan (King of Queens), Al and Peg Bundy (Married with Children), Carl and Laura Winslow (Family Matters), Philip and Vivian Banks (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Jay Pritchett and Gloria Delgado-Pritchett (Modern Family), Bill and Judy Miller (Still Standing), Billie and Zack (Accidentally on Purpose), Jim and Cheryl (According to Jim), and so many others that tell us fat, bald, old, and/or ugly men can get an unattainable girl.  While a nice concept in theory, it should work the other way around, too, right?

6. Even though X-Men is notorious for its strong female characters, when an X-Men team is comprised of all females, a backlash begins from misogynist/ignorant comic fans, wondering why there isn’t an all-male team.  Because that’s definitely never been done before, never.   This leads me to the next number, unfortunately, which also includes the writer of the newest incarnation of the X-Men series Brian Wood

7. Female creators and journalists are harassed at comic conventions.  And women hadn’t spoken up about it in the industry because it’s a male-dominated industry.  The backlash they receive is entirely disgusting and even disturbing when it does happen.  Threats of death and rape are common.

10. Melissa McCarthy’s weight is still an issue, regardless of her talent.  Seriously.  A Male actor is rarely, if ever, criticized for his weight.

13. The public had to loudly fight for a black woman on Saturday Night Live.  Even cast member Keenan Thompsonsaid there weren’t any funny black women.  I say Sasheer Zamata’s doing a darn good job.

14. More breasts and merkins appear in film and cable television than dong.  We’re looking at you, Game of Thrones.

15. James Bond, a notorious misogynist and borderline rapist,still sets out to save a woman and gets sex as his prize.  Pussy Galore is clearly a lesbian and is taken by James Bond, only to be turned straight because of one randy lay with him?

16. Video games still have more male lead characters.  Female characters are underdressed and hypersexualized, and often their storylines are reduced to sexual assault for shock value.  Anita Sarkeesian has been threatened with rape and death because of her outspoken rally for change in video games.  Apparently Sarkeesian's efforts in coordination with plenty of other female gamers have given rise to better representation in games.

18. The media focuses more on how women look on the red carpet and not their body of work.  Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence are tired of it.

19. When she won in 2010 for Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow was only the fourth woman to have been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director.  She also was the first woman to have won Best Motion Picture of the Year.  Not to mention, she was the first woman to receive a BAFTA and DGA for Best Director in 2010.

20. Women are significantly absent in all parts of media, and recent success from females show that the industry is better off with more women.

21. Commercials still adhere to gender rules.  LEGO, media buzz mogul GoldieBlox, and other companies are attempting to change that.

22. Internet trolls are the worst towards women.  Emily Graslie (below), Anita Sarkeesian, and Laura Hudson receive their fair share of it, and they are outspoken about it.  Men are jumping on the bandwagon, too, thankfully.

24. Female authors are marginalized and trivialized and are not reviewed as much as male authors.  It hasn’t changed since the Bronte sisters and Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt, when reviewers dismissed her political bite and feminist undertones in its children’s story disguise.  A co-worker told me recently that he doesn’t like female writers because their characters are too complex.

25. The world of sports is yet dominated by males, despite a large female audience.  Women, nowpresent in sports journalism, are usually sideline reporters and not commentators.  I won’t even go into how female athletes are disrespected and make far less than their male counterparts, as evidenced by Billie Jean King.

For more on women’s roles in the media, look to Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and Indiewire’s Women in Hollywood.

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