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Essay#2-Feminism - Yegorova 1 Irina Yegorova COMM-165-1A...

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Yegorova 1 Irina Yegorova COMM-165-1A Professor Von Blum TA Erin Pettigrew 12/4/2007 Essay #2: Media as a System of Sexist Oppression “It is easier to live through someone else than to become complete yourself,” said Betty Naomi Friedan, the author of The Feminine Mystique and one of the key founder of the National Organization for Women. Starting as early as in 18 th century, when the first wave of feminism broke through, women began to fight for their rights in the society, political institutions and the establishment of their unique identity rather than the identity of a passive homemaker and sexual object that men created for them. And the accomplishments were tremendous: through public speaking and street marching, women of the suffrage movement gained the right to vote in 1920, the second-wave feminist protests expanded the choice of jobs for women. Yet, the biggest challenge that feminist society faces today is the break of stereotypes about what “true women should be like”. In my opinion, the largest challenge in the 21 st century is to stop sexist images in advertisement through counter-advertisements and slogans that reveal the absurdness of sexist manipulation in the media. Since government is very much in control of the media, loud protests on the streets and sit-ins will also be tremendously helpful in stopping the disaster. In the 21 st century, the time when media became the major educational source for children about their values and opinions about the world, the content of what media promotes and what goes into our heads is especially crucial. The statistics are that ninety percent of Americans own a television and the average person views over seven hundred advertisements each week. Therefore, advertisements have a direct effect on our perception of the world. The
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Yegorova 2 scary part is that if before the content of advertisements focused on specific properties of a product, such as comparison of one detergent to another in terms of scent and quality, today the means of selling are skewed. Starting in mid-80s, advertisers realized that careful manipulation of audience’s emotions and values can, in fact, be more efficient and will make the consumers buy it more. Manipulation of gender roles was the “common denominator”: a concept that was international and understood by all consumers. As a result, the ads of home products and food used the image of women as homemakers and mothers that find the happiness solely within the family; the ads of fashion involved skinny and unrealistic young women that screamed of sex appeal. These advertise ments had and still do have an intimidating effect on youth because they make girls go on harsh diets and extensively alter their appearance in order to look like “that girl from Prada ad”. On the other hand, young boys get the wrong idea that it is a woman’s role to please men and always be available for them. Thus, women lose their true identity because they do not get to develop it due to extensive advertising brainwash.
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