"A word in earnest is as good as a speech"
~Charles Dickens: Bleak House

Friday, December 6, 2013

I can breathe .... well maybe after a conversation about sexism in advertising

The semester is finally over and I can almost take a breath. I have 35 final exams to grade and one take-home final to complete and the semester is over for me! I am stunned that I have completed a semester of graduate school - it is such a blur I can't even confirm that I remember enough of what I learned to say I have been successful. But I can say that once the papers were handed in and the exams were graded I did not embarrass myself (this was very important to me since my professors are also my colleagues).

So, the time has come to step back and begin observing my crazy world again and spend some time with my blog. As I began thinking of things I wanted to write about I remembered a recent comment by Sarah Palin that particularly annoyed me .... "I love the commercialization of Christmas because it spreads the Christmas cheer the most jolly holiday on our calendar ... obviously." I can't make this stuff up people! See for yourself ..... and giggle with John Stewart as you do.

I was going to go on a rant about what Christmas means to me ... how the commercials I am seeing every day make me feel sad and angry and kill my Christmas spirit and I realized ... been there, done that:

With no desire to be repetitive I started looking for something else that could start dialogue. Lo and behold in my Facebook newsfeed I found this gem:

It is great that someone is out there saying these things. The objectification of women to sell products is a time-honored tradition that really needs to end. When I heard her say she had been talking about this for 40 years I decided to do a search and go back to see if we have made any progress. I am sorry to say that I don't think we have.


It is a vicious cycle .... young girls see these advertisements and think this is the way women should be treated .... in turn media makes more risqué advertisements ..... more young women see them and so on and so on. It is not surprising that each semester the girls I have in class are wearing fewer and fewer clothes. It is no wonder that eating disorders are skyrocketing, and depression and anxiety is increasing year after year among young women.
I wish I had the answer on how to end the cycle, how to make men see women as more than a bunch of body parts, how to make women see themselves as more than a bunch of body parts at the beck and call of the men in their lives. I put some of the blame on the magazines sold to women as essential guidebooks on how to be feminine and beautiful: Cosmo - Vanity Fair - Vogue .....
And don't even get me started on Teen Vogue  or Seventeen ....
I remember reading these 30 years ago and feeling like I couldn't compete and that was before photoshop! I could never afford the clothes or do the make-up quite right and I never had the cute fabulous boyfriends they said I would have if I made myself up to look like a clown.
But in my search for what is wrong with media and it's portrayal of women and it's brainwashing of young girls I found this, a bright light in the midst of all of this: Julia Bluhm, Seventeen Reader, Petitions Magazine To Feature Non-Airbrushed Photos;  Teen Vogue Next In Anti-Photoshop Battle Waged By SPARK Summit Teens. There is hope. 
So in the end maybe we can begin to reverse a trend hundreds of years old.
  • If we can teach our sons to appreciate women for more than their bodies.
  • If we can teach our daughters that they should treat themselves with respect so that others will treat them with respect.
  • If we can get women to stop buying magazines that are ultimately going to make them feel bad about themselves.
  • If don't purchase products that advertise in sexist ways or buy magazines that publish these advertisements.
Then maybe - just maybe change will happen.
So much for a blog that started as a celebration of being able to breathe at the end of a long semester. Maybe breathing just isn't my style.

1 comment:

  1. Great to see you back Leann - and I love your Sarah Palin quote - as you say, I can't make this stuff up" . I would add that these people walk amongst us - and even more frightening hold powerful positions and where many in the world hold on to their every word as if they are great philosophical truths!!!! And, incidentally, I agreed with all your comments about sexist advertising - I am especially perturbed by the sexualisation of girls in modern society - it is a very worrying trend for all and happens in a million ways, many of them subconsciously.
    A happy Christmas and healthy/happy New Year to you and yours.