Lines which aren’t Blurred in the Media
Lines which aren’t Blurred in the Media
For any national newspaper certain observations, criticisms and remarks often come hand in hand with an objective to be somewhat ‘proper’. Yet by the time we hit page three, barely scratching the surface of a daily read, we are again reminded, whether it be pleasantly or distastefully, of the realisation that indeed, sex sells. How is it possible that, in an age which has overcome global conflicts surrounding civil rights, the notion of naked women pasted across a double page spread is still light-heartedly accepted? What effect does this continuous sexualisation in the media have on future generations? With recent headlines debating the concealing of “lads’ mags” in supermarkets, the issue of censorship vs. expression and choice is barefaced ever present. On the contrary, however, its not just lads’ mags that are raising brows, but also the representation and continuous objectification of women in the media.
After all, it’s not necessarily something new to note that there has been little progression in presenting women in the media as more than simply bikini-clad bimbos with lacquered lips, a stereotype all too accepted as the norm in society. And yes, this is an issue that must be addressed with more precedence and urgency.
Following the concern of the effects of magazines on children, it’s worth looking at other forms of media which are almost equally if not more influential on young impressionable minds. Take for example music, television and most significantly our faithful companion the Internet. Anxieties surrounding the effect of these particular platforms have always been on high alert – particularly when raising awareness of explicit content – yet the honest, respectful presentation of the female gender is often overlooked and dismissed in music videos and social media.
The subsequent outrage surrounding Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’, both in lyrical content and its video release, have especially reignited discussion regarding the norm of sex selling and sexism. It would appear that society still blindly accepts the presentation of naked women in all forms of the media despite a growing awareness of feminism.
Various platforms of social media such as Tumblr and Reddit relish the opportunity to create passionate and in-depth arguments dissecting how women still appear to have very little to no power over how they are represented in the media. However, despite the exercise of freedom of speech on these websites, it is striking to recognise how pornographic or sexist in content they too can be.
For the average nifty 9-year-old wiz, stumbling upon a perma-tanned, peroxide blonde, waxed to every inch of her life being penetrated in what can only be described as a way that sex education definitely does not touch on is unsurprisingly easy. Yet, these vulnerable and oblivious infants are the ones who will grow up accepting that they should either be like that or treat women as so. Surely this contempt to women allows children to be raised with warped attitudes towards gender and their means, with the opportunity that the discussion of sexual harassment and rape can be turned casually into nonchalant joke? That is not to say that all of society does or will be affected in such a way, but it is certainly something to think twice about when putting a naked woman on a billboard.
Identifying the power that objectification has in all its forms within society is vital for moving towards equality for all. With brash and explicit advertising like that of the fashion brand American Apparel and the pressure on women to comply with certain standards by all magazines, educating younger generations further on what is natural and individually “normal” seems like the step forward. A step which engagingly teaches that representations of women are always manipulated and not what they should grow up imposing on themselves or to women around them.
Though the mentality of sexualising women in the media has been embedded in society for hundreds of years, perhaps an in-your-face and unapologetic approach should be taken when educating children about gender and sex? Showing them the French painter Gustave Courbet’s The Origin of the World could be a start for its representation of female genitalia – pubic hair and all! Perhaps not then, but a more truthful and equality-focused structure should be in place of power as opposed to the tiresome feature of a woman’s backside instead of her brain.
Text: Victoria Rodrigues O’Donnell
Image credit: Barbara kruger, www.barbarakruger.com, selection of magazines from a stand. Painting, Gustave Courbet. Screen shot from Robin Thicke, Blurred lines (Feat. T.I & Pharrell)