Brianna Askew

Representation of Power

For years now, power has been unevenly distributed between men and women. Men have always been seen as the more powerful gender, and have had many more advantages for them than women have. If you were to close your eyes and think of things that automatically symbolize power to you, you are more than likely to think of “masculine” things before “feminine” things.
As a culture we have been taught to associate power with men, however this has become a problem. Women have been taken advantage of in so many ways throughout history; it is time that things begin to change. In different ways, this has become a serious problem for women. It is only going to be so long before women realize how everything is affecting them, and decide to change it. Since our history, the differences in the work force have been major. For a while women weren’t even allowed to work. As time has gone by and women are now allowed to have careers, little things such as the amount each gender gets paid have been an issue. Men have always been paid more, even if it was just a little bit more, such as a quarter. But today, one of the new and growing main concerns of working people is sexual harassment in the work force. There is a disparity regarding the types of actions, behavior and communication that men and women consider sexually offensive. They also differ in their views of how power in the workplace can contribute to sexual harassment, and in many cases, this becomes a problem.
For men, power comes from formal authority, so they view sexual harassers as primarily managers and supervisors. If they have power, they find it okay to sexually harass. Men acknowledge that coworkers could sexually harass one another, but co-worker harassment was mainly seen as a "misunderstanding." While men view power based off of authority, women view power in a more complex manner; formal authority is only one dimension in male-dominated workplaces. Power to women is a negotiated process between the harasser and the harassed. Women often perceive all members of an organization as possible harassers - thinking it can be initiated by any person who is perceived as having power. What is confirmed “sexual harassment” is based off of the situation, how a person perceives the action(s) classifies whether or not it actually is sexual harassment. As soon as the “victim” begins to feel uncomfortable in the situation, the action can be confirmed.
Although men and women see things differently, the public is aware of this with the help of the media, especially through television. Last year, Mad Men made a bold skit: “Two Women Walk into an Elevator, portraying sexual harassment in the work place. In this skit, the office manager Joan is speaking to copywriter Peggy about her accomplishment of firing Joey, who sexually harassed Joan (and other women in the office), with an explicit and degrading cartoon. With this, Joan explains to Peggy that the gender stereotypes can trap women into a no-win position. This skit shows a perfect example of how women are viewed by men. What men think is acceptable, women however, do not.
The chart below shows the amount of sexual harassment charges that have been filed by men and women from the year 1992 to 2002. As you can see, the amount of charges filed by women is much higher than that of men. The main reasoning of this is because men and women see things differently and mostly because women are more vulnerable. From the chart you can also see that in 1992, the amount of charges brought up are much lower than they were nine years ago. Also, if you look at the amount of charges men have brought up, you can see that they haven’t gone up very much since 1992, while the amount of female charges have definitely taken an increase.
In the end, there are many ways to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Although it’s possible that not all of the steps can be used, some may be able to help the situation. In your employee handbook, there should be a policy devoted to sexual harassment. Also, talking to a manager or someone of higher employment about the situation can help stop the uncomfortable situation from reoccurring.

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Growing Up Female in America

When you are a female child, your life is pretty simple; you don’t have much to worry about. Your parents have everything worked out for you; you just follow their guidelines and have fun. There is no stress about your appearance, and you just do anything you want to do.

Around the time you become a teenager, your “easy” life begins to take a sharp turn. You suddenly have to learn what is socially acceptable; how to act, dress, and present yourself. To many female teens, this comes almost completely natural, but sometimes there is a bit of help needed from a mother, or peer. However, today the media has changed this “natural” learning process, and for the worse. As new growing female teenagers watch television, read a magazine, or even listen to music, the message given to them is strong…and wrong.

Images that are portrayed to female teens in our days are more than the opposite of what has been shown in history. Up until the 90’s, women were always told to cover up in their clothes, nothing should be shown. However, today the pictures on the covers of magazines are extremely revealing, giving girls the impression that they should no longer dress modestly. This has caused girls to become more self conscious about themselves, increasing the amount of psychological issues such as anorexia and bulimia. Today’s “ideal” teen that everyone wants to be is tall-but not too tall, thin-with curves in the right places, popular, athletic-but girly, wearing the right kind of clothes, and having perfect hair and appearance. This puts a lot of stress on teens today and with no help from the media, this only makes things worse. Everyone has some sort of self-consciousness that we all feel, but if you take the time to ask around, it will shock you when you find out how many girls don’t actually feel comfortable in their own skin.

If you look at the magazines being displayed on the racks at stores today, you are bound to see women on the front cover. What really stands out though, is the print surrounding the picture. Say you look at a “Seventeen” magazine, what do you see on the cover? A skinny teenager. What types of words surround the picture? Words such as “flat abs and a great butt,” “672 ways to look pretty for spring” and “the cutest clothes.” Now look a “People” magazine, what do you see on one of those? Words like “100 most beautiful,” or “Half their size.” These types of magazines will draw the attention of teen girls because of what is written in bolded words, and what the models in the pictures look like- It’s exactly what the teens are looking for. They all want to look like the wealthy, thin and pretty model on the cover of the magazine.

The media sways the female teen’s mind into thinking of what they should be, not what they can be. This causes a huge problem especially in school settings. When teens see this type of “look,” they are being taught that the only way to be popular or having a lot of friends is to be thin and pretty. At this age, it’s basically teaching teens not to talk to the “ugly” (kids who don’t dress like that) in school. This leads to the formation of cliques that agree to everything that the media says, and this is not okay. In order to fit into a clique, one must conform. This is basically making everyone look like one another. This causes high stress on the clique members, always trying to fit in and be accepted. If one does not conform the right way, that person may be “shunned” from the group, causing that person some psychological damage. When this happens, the child becomes even more self-conscious, which could lead to other psychological issues.

The media has teenagers (especially female), in the palm of their hand, playing them like pawns on a game board. Whatever the media says, the teens will follow. This is a major issue just becoming worse as time goes by. But what can be done? We can only hope that the parents of each teenager will recognize these issues, and begin a trend of stopping it from reoccurring before it gets too out of hand.

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Representation of Difference

Since the formation of cultures, the main stereotypes that were made back then for men and women still remain today. Men and women are much different from one another. One gender is known to be the “superior” one-the male, and one being “weaker”-the female. These different stereotypes can be seen anywhere today from a magazine to a movie, giving people of all ages the impression that this is how life is supposed to be. With the help of Disney movies, this stereotype has rubbed off on the youngest ages in our culture today-children.

The Disney definition of masculinity has never been a realistic one. Disney defined masculinity in their movies as being a strong, attractive hero with a dazzling smile. In every Disney movie the masculine characters have always been overly-buff, while teaching children that in order to be a man; you must do the same things these characters do. For example, in the movie “Snow white and the Seven Dwarfs,” the model for masculinity in the film is the handsome prince who is strong and daring, with a romantic side, and searches for the girl who needs to be rescued. In reality, men are thought to be there to “save the day” to an extent, however; men are not perfect saviors that always get the girl. This just proves that Disney helped set the bar very high for men. This trend continues in many other Disney movies such as “The Little Mermaid,” “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

Now, if you take a closer look at Disney’s version of “femininity,” you see princesses that are created to be role models for young children, teaching them what is socially acceptable or desirable behavior-wise. They also are sending young children another standard for females, one that looks believable to them however are now far from realistic. Looking back at the movie “Snow white and the Seven Dwarfs” again, the main character being female has ruby red lips, and perfectly fair skin, portraying the classical ideal of beauty. She is sweet and temperate, never rebelling against her wicked stepmother, friendly and helpful. This character gives children the impression that females are pretty and gentle, almost the complete opposite of men.

After watching a Disney movie, gender stereotypes have definitely affected young viewers. A five-year old named Everett made the statement “Pretty stuff is for girls, and cool stuff is for boys.” This shocked the parents of the five year old because today, you can find some things that can be found “pretty” to a girl, and “cool” to a boy, such as an iPhone. This idea leads to the questions “where do we draw the ‘gender’ line?” and “how do we decipher today what is masculine/feminine?”



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Connection to Another Student

Media today has played a very big role in shaping our minds causing us to conform to the person that we are not. Magazines are filled with stick thin girls with flawless faces and perfect hair, resulting in us wanting to be just like them. We strive so much to be like these models, that we convince ourselves into thinking that if we can buy the products they are selling and wear the things that they are, and then we can be just like them, until reality sets in and we realize that all of these things are manipulated.” I could not agree to this statement that Sabihah wrote more. Being a teen female, I have seen and experienced things close to exactly what she just described.
I think at every stage of a female life-especially during the teenage years- girls feel a bit down on themselves. This is clearly enforced because of the pressure that is put on us today by the media and everything else surrounding us. We put an ideal image in our heads about what we want to look like, and make ourselves believe that it is what we should look like, forgetting about that old saying that “we all come in different shapes and sizes.” The media emphasizes the curvy shape, and the slim-to-nothing sizes. Not only is this just a problem for a woman’s self-image, but this just leads to more problems for them when you ask a man’s perspective on women. No matter who is looking at the advertisements displayed by the media, we all (men and women) are affected by subliminal messages presented to us.
“Women in society today are taken for much less than what they are actually worth. In the advertisements and commercials that are put out, women are used only for their bodies to try and sell the product they are advertising. Instead of showing our intelligence we are used as a sexual reference.”This statement is so true. The media gives men the idea that women are just there for their own pleasure, and our bodies are just used as advertisement-for both stores and for men. Men use their pretty girlfriends or wives to make them feel and look good in front of the public, and we all know that’s true. Not only do they just use us, they are able to use us and get away with it. When I read this segment of Sabihah’s paper, I was completely shocked and angry: “In 2008, a 16 year old girl was gang raped at a party by three different guys. Three of the guys were arrested however one of the three named Rakheem Bolton, who was a basketball player at the school, where “H.S,” (name given to the girl) cheered, was given probation for two years and a fine and was let go. At the school a couple weeks later, Bolton played at a basketball game for the school at which H.S was expected to cheer for him. She refused and was kicked off the squad. She was then expected to pay for the attorney fees and the lawsuit which was $45,000.” I cannot believe that our society is so oblivious to the terrible things that happen around us. This is a perfect example of men getting away with treating girls wrong, and this needs to stop.
For years now, women have been known as the weaker, less-dominant gender; however they still play a huge part in society. Without women, life wouldn’t be pretty, and men wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. From a young age, women are told to be a certain shape and size, which is only one large pressure put on them. Then, with no thanks to the media emphasizing this “ideal look,” men are now expecting of it as well, and taking advantage of it. Women need to speak out against these things that are occurring more, and make a stand, because who knows how long it is going to be before we are being pushed around and treated worse than we already are.

Refer to: Sabihah