News, Journalism, and Reality TV

Bianca Scofield

             Media is my favorite aspect of Sociology. It is so interesting how powerful it is in socializing the masses to know how to act and what to believe. It provides examples of normality as well as subtle (sometimes not so subtle) criticism of people who do not fit in the confining box of normality. We see the people that don’t fit in the box are most commonly gays and women, especially women of power.

            While reading Gill’s chapter News, Gender, and Journalism, I want to first point out (I try to have a critical eye while reading ANY piece of literature) that a lot of the information was fairly dated (2001). Although I am sure that the majority of these statistics presented on female media coverage on news networks has not drastically changed, but the statistics are more than a decade old. I am, of course, never minimizing the importance of this chapter because it is still a very precedent in our society. I would, however, like to see if the current statistics have improved, worsened, or stayed the same. I would hope that they have improved over the past decade or so… but the one thing I have learned from this class and Intro to Sociology is that our society can surprise us and even frighten us in ways that we were previously ignorant to. There were two aspects of Gill’s chapter that stood out to me: the invisibility of women in media coverage and the way women portrayed and treated when they gain economical or political power. It is interesting to me that women rarely receive media coverage for their accomplishments. To be honest I think in our society it is much more impressive to see a woman gaining a significant amount of power than a white heterosexual man. In a way women’s accomplishments are more newsworthy. I am not saying men’s accomplishments are not newsworthy, but any significant accomplishment should have media coverage, no matter the gender. What was even more shocking to me was the treatment of women who have power or in a position that was previously considered to be male. I found the example of the treatment of Clare Short to be extremely frustrating. Because she attempted to remove the pictures of topless models from newspapers she was considered a “killjoy” and was only against it because she herself was envious of the women because she was unattractive. Everything about this disgusts me. Clare Short was most likely attempting to remove the models from the newspapers because it was pornographic and objectifies women. Instead, the press assumed it was simply an issue regarding her self-consciousness. Why must everything regarding women revolve around appearances?

 

Note: I counted how many articles in the Times that were written by females today. Nine articles out of twenty-nine were written by females.

 

In regards to the second article, Bitches, Morons, and Skanks, Oh My by Jennifer Pozner, there is really SO much to discuss. I really could go on forever, but the bottom line is that reality TV depicts an image of women that is simply not accurate. Women can be catty, bitchy, and dramatic, but so can MEN, so can everyone! The reality is that reality TV is not reality, it is the extreme version, and it socialized people into thinking all women are the same, conniving bitches that can never be trusted. I know very very few women that act the way women on reality TV act. The most interesting part of the article was one of the notes at the bottom of the page 107 that mentions Angelina Jolie breaking off the marriage of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston and how media always portrays the husband to be powerless to the seductress. BLAME THE MAN. He was the one who cheated. I absolutely hate this; it’s another pet peeve of mine. I absolutely hate it when girls find out their boyfriends are cheating on them and then they directly blame the girl he cheated on with. She probably didn’t even know he was taken realistically, because why would he tell her!? By girls blaming girls for betrayal, this creates a slut-shaming society where the boy is never reprimanded for his actions.

 

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4 thoughts on “News, Journalism, and Reality TV

  1. Bianca,

    You discuss so many important points. Specifically, I found your comment on women’s accomplishments very thought-provoking. I find it interesting that when a woman accomplishes something very “monumental” she is always titled “The first woman _____” or “The first woman to achieve _____.” For example, I am an avid fan of Tina Fey. She’s a very intelligent, culturally conscious writer. However, after very successful movies, television shows, etc, she’s still known as the first female head writer of SNL. Of course, this was such a huge accomplishment. But as Fey says in the video I’m attaching (when accepting the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor–she was the third woman to ever receive this award), when will women stop being defined as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd person of her gender to do something? (Around 2:07) When will women’s accomplishments stop being “monumental” and instead will just be normal?

    Emma Weisberg

  2. Carly Ozarowski

    I really like your point about how men are never to blame during cheating and it’s typically viewed as the “other” women’s fault. But something interesting (and kind of off topic) that this reminds me is the movie “John Tucker Must Die” and the a movie that will be coming out in the future titled “The Other Women”. In “John Tucker Must Die” while yes the teenagers blame this boy for cheating on all of them with each other and they decide to get him back for doing this to them. This, in my opinion, paints these girls in a negative light as conniving. This appears to be the premise of “The Other Women” but with adults instead of teenagers. In terms of Gil’s article and your point about how all news should be addressed no matter the gender, as long as we live in a society where women are the “other” they will not be equally represented as Gil points out, and this is a sad fact. It is almost a chicken or the egg debacle in that women aren’t represented equally in the media because they aren’t the dominant cultural consumer, but yet can they ever be (well not dominant but equal) if they aren’t in the media in the same way men are?

  3. Bianca,

    I also felt super annoyed as I was reading the part of “News, Gender and Journalism” where it said that Clare Short was ridiculed for trying to remove the photos of topless women from the British newspapers. First off, I find it pretty disgusting that newspapers still feature these kinds of pictures on a day to day basis seeing as they do nothing but serve to objectify women and depict them as purely being for male enjoyment. But I also found it horrible that it mentioned that a man who similarly tried to have the pictures removed was commended for it. So Short got condemned as being jealous and a “killjoy” for wanting the pictures gone simply because she was a woman but her male colleague was celebrated for it.

    Cassie Walter

  4. Bianca,
    I agree with your point that it is more interesting and noteworthy to see women rising to power than it is to see a white heterosexual man, yet it is still on such a rare occasion that we see women’s accomplishments highlighted in the news. In my opinion this is largely the result of way that women are portrayed not only in the media, but also on reality television, as Pozner describes. We have become too used to seeing women portrayed as “bitches, morons, or skanks” in domestic roles on reality tv and automatically associate men with roles of power in society. The two go hand in hand and we must change both the news we see and the reality tv that get hours of air time every day if we want to see a change in the way that women are viewed in society and on the news.

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