We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!
Do you remember this tag line? Actually it was “You’ve Come A Long Way Baby”!
We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!
Well in many ways “we” as a people have come a long way. Gender equality in the form of voting and property rights was a positive change. Family, workplace, sexuality and reproductive rights have also been the focus of debate and change for our culture. Many amazing laws to protect abused and battered women have been implemented along with the ability of women to compete for jobs and freely admit their stance on sex.
Some how the fight to be free of sexism and sexual harrassment moved through freedom of sexuality into a very hypersexualized culture where women are more demeaned and seen as sexual objects than ever before in history as noted by Kilbourne in Killing Us Softly. The University of Buffalo “has found that the portrayal of women in popular media over the last several decades has become increasingly sexualized,” even “pornified” as seen in their study found in The Journal of Sexuality and Culture. The documentation and proof of this goes on and on.
Of course, I really didn’t need anyone to tell me this fact. It really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see it, if you have lived for any length of time. However, it does take someone who is not desensitized from the bombardment of sexual images.
Desensitized is referring to a reduction in emotion – related physciological reactivity to a subject or content. Feelings of concern, empathy or sympathy are diminished. Study after study has shown that repeated exposure to the same type of content (through various forms of media) changes one’s viewpoint. What once caused anxiety will no longer cause anxiety – what once was not acceptable becomes acceptable. Such studies have been performed since as early as the 1970′s. This psychological condition effects both children and adults.
The more we become desensitized, the more we accept “it” as the norm. In this case “it” is the demeaning of women in media. There are many aspects to this that are disturbing and dangerous. I will be covering many of them. But for now, I want to make a final statement and issue you a challenge.
Our professional world (psychology, psychiatry, marketing etc) is not oblivious to what is happening. Many valid studies have been conducted and report after report has shown the same unhealthy outcomes for everyone. While it is largely women and girls being sexualized, it is also having a devastating affect on the male population. One must ask, why aren’t the feminist leaders all over this?
It is sexism! And in my humble opinion it is a form of sexual harrassment. It bothers me to see sexual images of women all over the place! It bothers me and a large percentage of women to see our gender so heavily depicted as sexual “objects”. But in many ways our voices have been silenced, and for many reasons. Primarily, it is because sexualization of women has become normalized by desensitization and the fear is in the backlash of going against the “norm”.
In ways, I feel like we have been transported back to times gone by where women had no voice. To an era where they trembled in fear of men and being outcast by other women if they spoke of how they really felt. The few women courageous enough to speak up with quivering voices and fought against all the venom and cruelty in order to change the way women were viewed, would be very disappointed to see what we have allowed. This is not progress! The only difference between now and then is the mode and speed of delivery of the mass message that women are still sexual objects and that we are fool enough to call it sexual freedom!
My challenge to you: Cut off your T.V. for one month! Do not look at any advertisements via print or digital. Try not to freely look around when you must be in public. Avoid posters, banners and billboards. Use an ad filter for your computer to help eliminate the imagery in advertising as much as possible. This will take some dedicated and thoughtful work on your part! After a month, cut your T.V. back on and look around. I think you will find yourself a wee bit shocked!
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Sharon G. Cobb is an educator by career. She has spent over 12 years in the classroom teaching individuals and groups of many ages. Holding a B.S. in Science, M.Ed. in Gifted Education,Ed.S. candidate in curriculum and instructions as well as life experiences gives Sharon a unique edge and insight to people, learning styles and how the brain works. Through her fascination with the brain, Sharon has also studied hypnosis, sought to understand the mechanics of mass hypnosis and the impact on society and culture. Sharon is a certified Life Coach, NLP Master Practitioner and Hypnotist.