Everyone loves Frozen. One sister races after the other to save her and the guy gets the boot in the end. Wow, I love the 21st century vibes. We’ve brought ourselves into this mindset that advertisers, T.V. shows, and movies alike are looking to transcend old-fashioned views of gender roles, but is that really the case? Have we actually turned Sally-homemaker into Travis-cooks-a-casserole?
Travis-cooks-a-casserole played by Spongebob Squarepants [https://wgst303.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/gender-roles-in-media/]
In the past few years, attention to gender roles has increased. Even in current T.V. shows and movies gender roles are present. In the popular T.V. show The Big Bang Theory, the SINGLE female role is the “stereotypical female: the ditzy, attractive neighbor, who existed solely to create sexual tension between herself and one of the show’s leading men”. It doesn’t stop there. Almost 100% of Americans own a television in their household. These roles are wide-spread and growing despite the 21st century vibes. We can do our best to hope for more Frozen’s and Maleficent’s, but what the public wants is what the public gets.
“[M]y cousin says that she’s
never affected by infomercials…”
Speaking of the public… no one wants to be responsible for their lack of originality. No one wants to come to terms with being average. This is the case of third person effect as explained in Gendered Lives by Julia T. Wood. This is incredibly prevalent in today’s society that it was given its own name. This effect is caused by people believing that they are immune to advertisers persuasion, but that it affects everyone else. For example, my cousin says that she’s never affected by infomercials, yet she has a nutribullet and one of those core workout chairs. Last time I checked, it was women who were making and drinking those smoothies in the commercial.
An important aspect of gender in the media is recognized through the Bechdel Test. This test can be applied to any movie, but not all pass, actually, very little pass. The test follows three questions:
1.) Are there two or more women that have names?
2.) Do they talk to each other?
3.) Do they talk to each other about something other than men?
It doesn’t matter what a person says about how good they are at avoiding the public eye, it will find you, and it will consume you. The third person effect has it’s own name for a reason. It’s probably about time that a man became the damsel and a woman became the heroin… oh and when that happens, make sure she’s not in love with any of them at any point in the movie cause that seems to happen a lot. I PROMISE DIRECTORS… NOT ALL OF US CARE.
Women carry babies. That’s what we are genetically designed to do, right? We are just fleshy, walking incubators for the human race. And by God, if you don’t have any kids you are a complete failure to society and most importantly Darwin. By the looks of the global population, we’ve done a pretty good job of ‘adam and eve’n’ it up. However, what happens when women all of the sudden have their own idea about having children? (Psshh, as if women can have ideas). Society places a high standard on women as nurturers and caregivers and when women don’t provide that characteristic, society refers to judgement and hysteria. The idea that women could ever not want children seems insane to many men, but more importantly, it seems offensive to other women. The pressure put on women, by society, to have children is borderline harassment.
Are children a necessity?
Many women choose to not have children. It’s not to say that all women that chose to not have children came to that decision lightly. Some have tried for years with no luck, met with other methods of conception with disappointment, were born with or developed medical problems, and some have just chosen a life without children because they don’t like children, want to keep a nice figure, want to travel, desire a sole relationship with their spouse etc.
There are many reasons as to why women don’t want children, but the one reason that seems to bewilder society is a woman’s desire to have a successful career.
“If I had kids, my kids would hate me”
In 2013, media mogul Oprah Winfrey revealed to the Hollywood Reporter about her indifference towards having children. She said, “if I had kids, my kids would hate me”. Elaborating further, Oprah said, “they would have ended up on the equivalent of the Oprah show talking about me; because something [in my life] would have had to suffer and it would’ve probably been them.” Oprah’s choice to not have children was in response to her bustling career. Bringing a child into this world would have been selfish because she wouldn’t have been able to be there for her children because she is so busy. Yet, does this make her a bad woman?
Gender inequality proposed
Author of Gendered Lives, Julia T. Wood writes that deceased psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, theorized that when a child is born, it’s “anatomy is [its] destiny”. This basically means that a child’s biological sex, or its genitals, will determine which parent it identifies with the most. So boys identify with their fathers and girls identify with their mothers. However, Freud continues to explain that it is not simply who looks like who, but that girls identify with their mothers as having the absence of a penis and identify their fathers as having the presence of a penis. Basically, both boys and girls see that their fathers holds the power in the family because a penis equals power. Freud theorized this as penis envy.
Today’s psychoanalysts have disregarded Freud’s penis envy theory because, well, many women don’t want a penis. More importantly, they don’t want it to feel powerful, otherwise there would be no need for feminism, or women’s suffrage. It is important to note though, that the theory of identity at an early age has not been rejected. Gender identity, an important role in a child’s development, is the private and subjective view of one’s own gender. Many aspects branch off of this theory including masculine and feminine qualities, societies view point of each quality, and the reinforcement of each quality via gender.
An example of gender identity would be growing up feminine. A characteristic that many women are expected to have is the superwoman complex. The superwomen complex is the ability to juggle both work and motherhood. Wood writes, “women feel they are required to try to have it all. It’s not enough to be just a homemaker and mother or just a career woman. Many young women today seem to feel they are expected to do it all.” This is seen in the response of TODAY anchor woman Tamron Hall to Jennifer Aniston’s comment on societies view of childless women. Tamron Hall writes, “I explained how people say to me that ‘I don’t get it,’ that I’m not an adult somehow, that I’m not a woman because I don’t have a child. I’m taken aback by the idea that that empathy is bestowed upon you only because you are a parent.” She goes on to explain how she does not feel as though her character should be based on her loyalty to being a woman.
Being a woman does not mean that she is required to have children and start a family. This sparked a thread on twitter of women speaking up about their desire to not have children either (image featured above).
To be a woman is to be strong, whether you’re a strong mother or strong career woman. People like Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey, and Tamron Hall help voice the opinions of thousands of women out there who cannot voice themselves. It is important to treat all women equally and with respect and to respect their wishes. Men needs to remember this as well as women because, as Madeleine Albright stated, “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women.”
Recently, an article in the Odyssey was released defining the alleged difference between feminism and gender equality. The article “I believe in gender equality, not feminism” by Taylor Bell attempts to describe why she doesn’t call herself a feminist and prefers to call herself an advocate for gender equality.
Her attempt does not show any difference between a feminist and an advocate of gender equality except for the label that is used. The label feminist is typically seen as an aggressive characteristic, but when it comes to gender equality, feminists are some of the most progressive leaders of the movement.
To be concerned with labels would be counterproductive in the grand scheme of things. The conversation should remain focused on equality, not what you call yourself.
Well, first things first, my name’s Meghan Enzinna. My parents thought I was a boy for most of my preexistence, I was actually supposed to be Nathan. I’ve offered up my name for bargaining purposes before, but it didn’t work most of the time. Now that I am a junior in college, a communication studies major, and in a relationship I have more to lose than an almost name. Growing up in the suburbs of DC, I have grown accustomed to diversity. Now attending Longwood University, that diversity has been switched up.
I have been lucky enough to develop a relationship with one of my professors, Dr. Laura Farrell, who has helped me tremendously since my first semester here at Longwood. Now that my time has dawned as an intern, I can now fully accept the communication discipline as a rigorous, yet fluid one. My internship with Dr. Farrell has opened so many aspects of communications research that I was unaware of including research foundations, grants, incite journals, codebooks, literature reviews and communication theories. Being in this internship has geared my learning at a much more adaptable pace where before I could not retain information from just one lecture. Communication studies has verbally improved my people skills and my communication internship has improved my knowledge of people.
In learning about people, I have learned that not all can cope; cope with change, cope with diversity, cope with life, etc. When I was a child, I was very boyish. I tied my hair back tight and I wore dark clothes. Not many people teased me at this point in my life, but I do remember being teased when I started wearing girly clothes.
Middle school was the dark ages. Many people can attest to that. Big hoop earrings, tight yet baggy clothes, small cropped cardigans, I can go on and on, but the important thing was the transition from childhood to becoming a teenager. Learning about that transition and learning about those “confusing” years is important to me. What I hope to gain from this course is the understanding of people’s directions in life. The reason they chose to be who they are and why people can’t accept it. I still want to learn about people and this course will help me do that.