The Representation of Power

The fear of Muslim extremists has radiated from the American population ever since the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers in NYC in 2001. Since then, we have increased security in airports, and in other public spaces. Before 9/11, we were worried about terrorist attacks but they didn’t seem real; we didn’t take serious precautions to prevent them. The United States of America is seen as a very powerful country yet; we quiver when we hear the word “Muslim.”

The power has shifted. We are one of the most privileged countries in the world with a wide variety of freedoms granted to us the day we are born. We’re a powerful group of people, with the ability to speak our mind, practice whatever religion we so choose, to become anything we want to be. However, because of one life-altering event that impacted everyone’s lives in our country, we fear a group of people. When it comes to the Muslim extremists and other terrorist groups, we step back and cower in fear. They control us, now.

The fear of flying is a common phobia amongst the human population. The idea that you are tens of thousands of feet in the air and could plummet to your death at any given moment isn’t necessarily something that one thinks about before calmly and peacefully falling asleep at night. Now, there is a possibility, it is an idea that a small group of people have implanted in all of our minds, that someone on the plane who passes as an ordinary citizen could become the enemy. They could kill you, as well as hundreds of other people. Now, this idea has become reality and some people are so scared they won’t fly anymore at all.

At the same time they control us, we control them. After 9/11, we strapped on a negative connotation to the word “Muslim.” Our national fear of the word, of this group of people, creates an unfair environment for the people of this religion. Recently, a man named Ahmed Ferhani planned a terrorist attack on a synagogue in New York City. He was quoted as saying, “The world is treating us like dogs,” (Long.) We control them with the fear that a few people from the extreme side of this group has instilled in us. We treat them unfairly, immediately judging them when we first see them even if we know about them. Some may call it being careful, others may call it racism; it really depends on which side of the situation you are standing on.

This fear that has been blanketed over our country has created a power struggle between us, and them. The people of the United States fear terrorists and are extra careful of how we travel, how we present ourselves and pay close attention to how much security we feel we need in certain situations. On the other hand, we treat those who practice Islam unfairly, even if they are not part of the extremist end of the spectrum. We judge them, we fear them, we place a label on their forehead before even getting to know the person themselves. The power struggle between these two groups will go on, I believe, for a very long time.

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Representation of Difference

The concept of being different is around us whether we realize it or not. I am different from you, you are different from me. I respond in a different way to situations than you might respond. Human being s have different view points on everything. Some people are racist; some are in an interracial couple and have adopted a kid from Africa, China, and India. Some people are homophobic, others are not. It’s very interesting to see how we are all of the same species, but have twisted our thoughts to fit into the mold that our beliefs have created, making us more different than similar.

Jerry Spinelli wrote the book Maniac Magee in 1990. The book entails a story about a homeless 12-year old boy who runs away from his aunt and uncle’s house because they fight too much for his liking. He ends up in a fictional town, Two Mills, Pennsylvania; a very racist town that is literally divided in half by the main road. The boy ends up solving the whole town’s problem due to the fact that he is highly athletic (adopting the name “maniac” because he runs so fast.)

There are a lot of differences between the characters in this story. There’s a homeless 12-year-old for one thing, the whole town is segregated so all the black people live on one side of the town and all the white people live on the other side, and this boy has these amazing athletic abilities that no one else in the town has. Maniac brings together everyone and helps to end racism in the town. The idea that a 12-year-old ended racism that existed in a town for years and years represents how powerful the male gender is in the world; showing another difference, between male and female.

Homosexuality is another aspect of life that is represented differently in the media. Actually, it is a big deal if it is in the media at all. The idea that there are people out there who are different than the generally more accepted heterosexual world, flips the switch for some people and it makes them very upset. Some people blame it on religion, others just don’t understand. Either way, homosexuals are definitely treated differently than heterosexuals are.

The way the media segregates gay and straight reinforces the idea that they are different from us to begin with. Okay, they are attracted to the same gender. They still have organs, feelings, have basic human needs, and are of the human species. The way the media portrays them helps to uneducated those who are homophobic even more so than they were before, just reiterating false accusations that all homosexual people are the same way.

The difference between homosexuals and heterosexuals is which gender they are attracted to; the same or different. That is it. They are human beings, they may be equally as talented or even more talented at certain things, regardless of their sexual orientation. The media says the exact opposite. And it only took one person to have this belief to turn it into a wide-spread fear, and to embellish the differences between these two orientations.

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Growing up female

Every day, we take in our surroundings. We notice things that people say, the way they look at us, the way they look at other people, whatever our senses can take in, we acknowledge. Your perspective changes, however, depending on who you are. If you have brown hair or blond hair, if you’re male or female, black or white, Jewish or Muslim, the reactions of others around you, or towards you, impacts you differently.

A joke made about the Muslim religion may make one person laugh but another person very offended. A man may be watching a commercial with a sexy woman in it and have to pick his jaw up off the floor afterwards, while a woman may be putting down that extra slice of pizza in her hand so her man can look at her the same way he looked at the character on TV.

Being a female in this culture means many different things. For one thing, you must love yourself for who you are. What you look like has no direct correlation to the success that you achieve in your life. Now that you have that seed in your head, ready to grow and blossom into a high self-esteem, you turn on the television; or even open up a magazine. The main concept on television and in advertisements in general is that sex sells. They take a beautiful woman, then photo shop her to make her superior to the average beautiful woman. They make her an unattainable goal to the rest of the population.

We fight to be seen as beautiful by men. Why? Because that’s what the media tells us to do. It pressures us to be the most beautiful person in the world; not the most intelligent, or the kindest, or the best at what we do, just beautiful. Women go to extreme lengths to reach what they feel will make them as beautiful as the photo shopped woman smiling at them on their television screen. Forget strength in character, as long as your hair is strong enough to tie a knot with, you’re good!

People wonder why girls develop eating disorders at such a young age, and it is because the pressure is starting so young now-a-days to be beautiful; thin, perfect hair, perfect makeup, just be perfect. What the media doesn’t do is teach the world that imperfection is perfection and as long as you truly love yourself for who you are, you can be as happy as the people on TV appear to be. Growing up as a female in this society is a tough thing to do happily. We are constantly being told to fix ourselves, even if it’s not a direct comment, there are messages in songs, in the body language of people around us, and in everything we come encountered with within a day, we are constantly watching ourselves to make sure we fit the cookie-cutter image of beauty as best as we can.

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Connect to another student

It becomes a subconscious goal to turn into a perfect little toy in order to impress the male gender.” This statement could not be truer. Every day, whether male or female, we are surrounded by advertisements that may not be directly telling us to change ourselves but are shoving the changes we “should” be making in our faces either way.

It is unfair to both genders to portray perfection in advertisements and leads to self-esteem issues across the board. Men see perfectly cut characters get all the hot, perfectly sculpted women on TV all the time; the advertisements scream, “forget about brains! Just look good and you’ll get everything you want!” It makes it near impossible for us, as the human race, a species known for its imperfections, to understand that there is no such thing as perfect.

“There are plenty of different ways information is distributed to young girls and it becomes their ideology that women have to behave and dress a certain way. This way of thinking is rarely questioned or addressed because it becomes so normalized among the community.” This quote is also true, to an extent. All men and women are told to act and dress a specific way, and it certainly has been normalized in society. However, the ideas of exactly how both genders should act and dress has changed dramatically over the years.

We could not have become mindless overnight, so this has been going on since the beginning of time. Perhaps we just adopted thoughts and ideas from the hunters and gatherers centuries and gently change them as decades go by. It is more accepted now that women go out and work and the men do as well, but half a century ago, the number was dramatically lower. And although we work, we still get paid less than men do; earning 75 cents to their dollar.

Our ideology has been molded by the past, and the present and people refuse to look at the change that could occur in the future which is why we are held back to the unattainable goals that the media constantly tell us to try and achieve. Women were never treated fairly and still aren’t, either in the work place or the media. It’s cruel to place an ad in front of us and say here, become this photo-shopped character, without Photoshop.

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