The Normalization of Female Degradation in the Media

Cassie Walter

            I watched both Tough Guise 2 and Dreamworlds 3 in the library and at one point I got so embarrassed at what the images on my screen during Dreamworlds 3 might have looked like to anyone walking by that I actually moved my seat from a table in the middle of the library to one of the private cubbies. I didn’t want anyone to think that I might actually enjoy watching nearly naked women be degraded by the men in the videos who treated them as if they were nothing more than sexually pleasing objects. It then made me question as to whether or not I would have been as embarrassed if I had simply been watching one of the music videos that was featured in the film. Without the music playing alongside the images, it became immediately clear how disgusting the videos are. But would I be having such a strong reaction had I just been watching Jessica Simpson’s These Boots Are Made for Walking? I found myself incredibly disappointed that we have allowed ourselves as a nation to be socialized into thinking that these kinds of sexist, degrading images are normal or okay. They simply aren’t.

            The part of Dreamworlds 3 that I found to be the most disturbing to watch was the actual news footage clip of women being assaulted in broad daylight in Central Park during the Puerto Rican Day Parade. These real life men were doing exactly what I had just seen depicted in all of the rap and hip hop music videos; they grabbed women, pulled down their clothing, and treated them as sexual objects that were there purely for the sake of entertainment. I knew that these music videos must have been having an adverse effect on real men and how they treated women, but I couldn’t believe that people would go so far as to try and rip a random woman’s top off in broad daylight. How could anyone possibly think that that was okay? After watching that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch another music video (or movie or TV show) in the same way again. I used to think the video for Stacy’s Mom by Fountains of Wayne was funny and amusing but now I see it as a gross over-sexualization of both the mother and the young boy. And that was probably one of the most innocent videos the makers of Dreamworlds 3 chose to show.

            While watching the part of the film that featured men throwing meat at naked women, I couldn’t help but think about Lady Gaga’s infamous meat dress. I know Lady Gaga is constantly trying to do weird things and to cause people to talk about her but it made me feel slightly gross to think about that dress in connection to the way men degrade women by throwing meat on them. I have no idea if there was any intended connection, and maybe I’m just creating unnecessary connections, but it was the first thing that popped into my head after watching that scene.

            I remember watching the first Tough Guise film in intro and I found it completely fascinating yet sad the way that men have been taught to put on a ‘mask’ of aggression and violence in order to cover up the much more natural feelings of actually expressing emotions. When viewing the statistics about violence it is clear that there is something wrong with the ways boys are being raised because there is no other way to explain the reason why men are so much more likely to be the cause of violence in the US. It’s upsetting that we live in world where teenage boys laugh and joke about a girl who was just raped like the boy in Ohio did, but I like to think that America is indeed being ‘wussified’ (sorry to reuse that horrible term) and that as a society we can make an effort to teach boys and men that to show emotion is okay. And that violence and aggression is never the solution to their problems. 

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