Slutty Bitches in the Media

Zoe Halpert

The media has a presence in our lives that is much larger than we tend to realize.

Last semester I took the class Human Rights and the Media with Professor Borer. A main idea in that class was the small percentage of major world events that actually get covered by the news. In one reading we had, Virgil Hawkins says, “The majority of conflicts in the world do not appear (or appear only fleetingly) on the radar screens of international consciousness.” The fact that there are so many more atrocities happening than the numerous ones that we do see is a terrifying thought. Gil’s chapter “News, Gender and Journalism” mentions this, but the focus is more on gender. Who controls this limited view of the world? The answer is, men (presumably wealthy, white, straight men). I think that this is similar to the way history is told; in school, we tend to learn the history of men.

Women are less likely to be in the news, both as subjects and as journalists. When women are in the news, their physical appearance plays a significant role. Sometimes their bodies are even used to sell a story, just like in ads. A sentence that really stood out to me in this reading was, “there is nothing innocent about sexualized representation of women; they are part of the operation of power which trivializes women’s perspectives and keeps them ‘in their place’” (Gill 117).

Unfortunately, I couldn’t help noticing that Gil points out that news “is no more a simple reflection of reality than a soap opera or a women’s magazine” (Gil 113). I was disappointed that she suggested the femininity of contrived, frivolous media outlets.

Hawkins also says, “Perception defines our reality. Where access to information that may enhance our perception is limited, the reality we see becomes distorted and warped” (Hawkins 1). I think that this heavily relates to Pozner’s chapter, “Bitches and Morons and Skanks, Oh My!” We all know that reality TV is heavily manipulated and is far from an accurate portrayal of reality. Still, it is not just entertainment. It is yet another form of media that projects ideologies and suggests what is normal. The media socializes us.

On reality shows, women are shown as being constantly in competition with each other; “These shoes put an entertaining spin of decades of corporate news coverage that pits women against one another socially and economically, diverting attention from true problems we could be allying to solve” (Pozner 105). According to Pozner, if women are conditioned not to trust each other, we are less likely to join together to fight for equal rights. Women are belittled, shown as incompetent, ditzy, and only worth their looks.  They are also portrayed as catty and cruel. However, if you throw a bunch of women who don’t know each other well into the same house and have them compete for something over the course of a few months, no wonder they get upset with each other!

What I find truly horrific is that people in other countries watch these reality shows. Is this what they think the reality of most Americans is? One thing I learned from both articles is that the media does not portray the reality of what is happening in the real world, and when confronted with their small doses of reality, people’s views of the world are skewed. It’s amazing that after all these years, we are still moving backwards. 

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6 thoughts on “Slutty Bitches in the Media

  1. Carly Ozarowski

    I like the question you raise about if American reality TV is how people in other countries view America. That is an interesting question but it isn’t just other countries but also how people in America view other people in America, maybe from a different state or socioeconomic status. For example I am from New Jersey and when I mention the shore to somebody I am often times asked if I have seen anyone from the cast of Jersey Shore and I am then forced to explain that I don’t go to Seaside Heights and that where I go down the shore is a completely different type of place. I also like the connection you made to history in school the news. Most often times, I believe what makes the news is what will become history in the future. We have been in a cycle of hearing about the upper/middle class white man with contributions by women becoming lessened or skewed in ways that were not always completely the whole truth.

  2. I thought it was very interesting that you mentioned, “if you throw a bunch of women who don’t know each other well into the same house and have them compete for something over the course of a few months, no wonder they get upset with each other”. I just finished reading an article that talked about tea parties during the antebellum period in New England and the purpose they served. In a sense, they were always very competitive because of the males and potential suitors that these parties attracted. However, at the same time, women were frowned upon if they acted as horribly to each other as some do on reality tv that we see today.

    Haris Kuljancic

  3. Luis Ramos:

    I like your response to “Who controls this limited view of the world?”

    You’re completely right. Men (presumably wealthy, white, straight men) control it.
    The only women I recall learning about in any of my classes when I was younger was either Sacajawea or Rosa Parks. We do necessarily tend to learn the history of men, or better yet, society tends to teach humans the history of men because they are the ones who apparently are in control of most aspects, which is indeed a sad realization.

    As for women in the media, I also agree that on reality shows, women are shown as being constantly in competition with each other. I’ve watched the first three episodes of “Are You The One?” which is a new MTV reality show where men and women are competing to find their true love and win a share of a million dollars. The female participants are often shown to be the ones who fall in love easily because they’re always putting their emotions out there, yet they’re also portrayed as “slutty bitches” because they’re constantly hooking up with a different guy each night. So far, there’s been a dispute between two girls ’cause they’ve been fighting for the same guy, whom in the end, ends up picking a different girl to try figuring out whether they’re a match or not. Forrealz, this show is getting intense!

  4. I’m glad you brought up the phrase “it’s only entertainment” which we have seen repeated over and over again whether in wrestling, Disney movies, or reality TV. I think Hawkins quote about perception which you mentioned is specifically relevant here. It goes back to the basic social constructionist theory–we create our own reality be assigning meaning. By saying that these shows are “real” and that they are “entertaining” we are giving them a power and a position in our culture which will have real consequences.

  5. As a sports fan I have always noticed that the majority of the sideline reporters during games or the hosts of Sportscenter are attractive and young. There are a few exceptions to this rule but for the most part it is no secret that the reason these women got the job was because of their looks. These reporters are not bad at their job but they are not experts in the game either. Instead of hiring experienced writers who have actual insights into the game these networks prefer the young female as if this alone will attract viewers to the game. I find it frustrating to think that the heads of these networks think that they need an attractive women during the broadcast in order to keep my attention. I definitely think that reality TV reflects poorly on the US. It seems like many countries look at us as a spoiled, fat, and uneducated society. While the major issue is fixing the people within the country that act in these crazy ways endorsed by reality TV shows, its embarrassing to be grouped in with those that enjoy these shows and star on them.

  6. I am always astounded about how vibrant and screwed up the world is with political tangles of injustice and corruption that when I read articles like this:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/25/putin-s-police-arrest-pussy-riot-again-in-court-crackdown.html

    I think that we have it relatively good here in the States. This is, perhaps, one of the only good respect that it can can be seen in. But any attempt to any group’s voice is vastly caused by a patriarchy intent on keeping it’s hegemony.

    Patrick Landes (dear god, I finally remembered to sign my name)

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