Cultural Misguidance

Sophie Furman

Many ideas were brought into a spotlight in these two articles. Ideas that make me question what we’re teaching our future young girls about their future and the “values” in which they’re suppose to hold.

In Rosalind’s “News, Gender and Journalism,” she mentions the idea that news is simply a “cultural product that reflects the dominant cultural assumption about who and what is important determined by race, gender” and more. It is a product of what society would most likely listen in on and absorb. It’s not about the terrors that wouldn’t interest people, or the problems that so many are facing because it doesn’t fit into the “current news values” that is being portrayed at that time. According the topics that appear in the news, they have to be relevant to what other people are going through in order for a relation and interest to be made. It also would be beneficial if it includes, what certain celebrities are wearing, whom they’re sleeping with, and what sports players are having an affair. In a world where so many are struggling and need help, it’s the artificial things that take over our news screens or pop up on the bottom of our TV screens as ground breaking news. It’s hard to escape the world of media in a time where it surrounds us every which was we go, however the results of the movement it’s making need to improve.

A part of the reading that I found extremely interesting was when Rosalind mentioned woman broadcasters and the judgment they can face. When a woman is brought on-screen while reporting an event it’s no longer about what she’s saying but what she’s wearing and what she should be doing instead. Rosalind mentions in her piece that when a woman is seen reporting in an unsafe area it’s no longer about the topic she’s trying to bring attention to, but the disappointment in the audience that women would choose to be in this dangerous zone instead of caring for her children (because all women must have children and the reporter is purposefully risking her life to not be with her kids anymore, right?). It’s a loose, loose situation for woman because if they stay home with their kids than they’ll be judged by some for being a stay at home mom, but if their not with their kids and working than their being judged for not spending time with their kids. While men are allowed to go to work without feeling guilty for it society wants women to feel guilty for not being with their children 24/7. Women deserve to work, and just because they do it doesn’t mean they love their kids any less than a mother that choose to stay at home. I think it’s important to still have a sense of self after having children, if men get to have that than so should women. The idea that the woman has to be more of a present parent is not fair.

Jennifer Pozner’s, “Reality Bites Back” explored the tropes in which women are placed into on reality TV shows. This article made me feel very uncomfortable because the lengths reality TV shows will go to show woman as, “catty,” “manipulative,” “stupid,” and “incompetent” are pretty disgusting.  Why the shows are called “reality TV shows” I won’t ever understand. Nothing about them resembles a reality close to mine or any of the people I know. How our society could use the women in these “Real Housewives” show as a representation of who woman are is disrespectful to all woman, even the woman in the shows. What shocks me most is the fact that most of the women on these shows have children, and their children inevitably hear everything their mothers say in the show and see the drama that follows the group of woman in each episode.

These shows aren’t actually a “reality” the producers find a way to make these woman fit into the different tropes of reality TV. However, no one is forcing them to continue to be portrayed this way. I have no doubt that these women are great mothers to their children, it just disappoints me that they would let themselves be shown like this for fame and money when it’s not sending a good message out for their kids or the other kids that come across this show. It comes back to the whole argument of “well this is just entertainment.” If this is allowed to be entertainment, and beating women in wrestling matches is allowed to be entertainment than should there be greater rules of what’s allowed to be entertainment?

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7 thoughts on “Cultural Misguidance

  1. Sophie,

    I really liked your analysis of Pozner’s article. As you said, television networks use the title “Reality TV” to generalize how all women are supposedly wired as catty, manipulative, etc. Something I really liked from Pozner’s article–I drew a giant square around the entire paragraph–was her statement about the effects of this negative depiction of women. Pozner argues, “All social, academic, professional, and political gains women have made in this country…have been won through hard-fought collective struggle with other women. If women are conditioned to consider other women lying backstabbers, we are less likely to organize together for better working conditions or pay equity” (107). It completely makes sense. The more women distrust one another, the more we become divided. It then becomes impossible to share our stories of gender discrimination, body dissatisfaction, and so on to realize what Professor Jafar says: it’s not personal, it’s structural.

    I just participated in the Vagina Monologues for my second time, and I feel that it is one of the best communities I have ever been a part of. The best and the most difficult part of the process is when we do “dedications:” the entire cast gathers and shares whom they are dedicating the performance to, oftentimes along with a little explanation of why. While a lot of times women dedicate the show to an influential parent or friend, women also open up about experiences of sexual assault or other negative experiences. I’m always completely stunned about the bravery it takes to talk about these tough topics. However, in an environment so warm as this one, it definitely makes the challenge much much easier. This is the kind of collective experience women should be a part of, to be in a group of women all from different backgrounds and experiences but that come together to share their stories.

    Emma Weisberg

  2. Carly Ozarowski

    I think its interesting what you bring up about how these women portrayed on Real Housewives are mothers, and how what they are doing on these shows will be seen by their children. All the mother’s of Real Housewives have different contracts set in place regarding their children. Some do not allow there children to be shown on the show at all, which is interesting because they often aren’t talked about either which makes these women look like they don’t even have children at all. While other Housewives have their children shown as almost full characters. I have read interviews were some of the women say that they are doing these shows to help their children and make money for their families, but at what point is a big check not worth a mostly negatively edited, scripted portrayal of yourself? The double bind you bring up that working mother’s face is just another way women and men are viewed so differently. If a man were in this dangerous place reporting he would be a hero for delivering the news, but no one cares to mention that he too is in a dangerous place and would equally effect his kids when risking his life.

  3. Sophie,

    I agree with your point about the female journalists being criticized for ‘putting themselves in danger in war zones when they should really be thinking about their children.’ I find this to be so ridiculous because what about all the male journalists?! Presumably some of them have children too but they are never called out for being selfish and not thinking about how this could hurt their children. Do Americans for some reason only care about children losing their mothers and not their fathers? Or is it that we are set in our incorrect belief that women are weaker and therefore more likely to get captured or killed while in dangerous situations such as war zones.

    Cassie Walter

  4. I shared some of Sophie’s ideas about the content that we show in the news and deem “relevant.” One aspect of Gill’s article that really stuck with me is when she was saying that every day there is a “9-11” happening somewhere, but instead we choose to report on and listen to the news about what celebrities are wearing and the dirty details about messy celebrity divorces. Similarly, people spend hours of their day watching ridiculous shows in which people, especially women, are manipulated into doing whatever some producer thinks will make the show a success. When did our society become so obsessed with this fake drama as opposed to real news and actual reality?

  5. I liked your idea that what we see on tv has to be relevant in order for people to make a relation or interest in the topic. I agree with you, however, I wanted to mention a reading from intro to soc that talked about a billboard of a rolex watch outside of Hartford Connecticut. This lavish jewelry was targeted at a lower middle class to poor community that were supposed to strive to buy this watch, which is unreasonable. This billboard interrupts the flow of values and priorities. Thus, if people are striving for something unattainable through normal means, they will turn to illegal means in order to obtain this unnecessary item or material. I feel like reality tv does something very similar to that of a billboard of something unattainable.

    Haris Kuljancic

  6. Luis Ramos:

    I also found it extremely interesting how Rosalind mentioned woman broadcasters and the judgment they can face. Especially when a woman is brought on-screen while reporting an event it’s no longer about what she’s saying but what she’s wearing and what she should be doing instead. When gathered around a group of guy friends watching the news, they generally talk about how good the broadcaster looks or how they would love to bang her and what not. I find those comments to be absurd. I mean, just Google image search “weather girl” and you’ll see why men tend to go crazy about the weather news. Especially on Spanish television. I remember growing up, every Sunday, my father would wake up and watch “Republica Deportiva” which is similar to ESPNsports, just in Spanish. The women broadcasters of that show were always semi-naked or somewhat revealing, and up to this day, that continues to exist on the show, that often times, I catch my my teen-age brother commenting on how good looking they are just because their boobs and butts are hanging out. It’s disgusting to see how my father is socializing him to be a man, without even realizing.

  7. I think that it is difficult for our society to break away from the mindset that men can and should risk their lives to protect us and put themselves out there, while women must stay close to home because they are the more important parent. Yes there should absolutely be lines drawn as to what constitutes acceptable entertainment. Whether people follow these rules in another issue but if we begin to regulate what we consider ok to watch then we will come closer to better forms of entertainment. I think that many people enjoy watching reality TV shows because it makes them feel more secure in their own lives by watching others fight, and to be able to judge them for their actions. But it is still an unacceptable form of entertainment and which will probably only stop when viewers resist the urge to watch it.

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