Disclaimer: I’m uncertain about my argument at the end of this article. I think the point stands, I’m just worried that in the way I’ve phrased it I come across like a bigoted obsessive… Which (I like to think) I’m not. So with that in mind…:
Watch this video. (it’s okay, you can watch it in English). And watch it all the way through if you can – it’s 24 minutes well worth watching.
I don’t really have much more to say about the video itself, but I am harping on the same old tune again – how true is this of worldwide representation of women? Is this an extreme example, or do you think there are similarities to be seen in the media of say, America, or England? I know what my answer is, and I don’t think I’m “training” myself only to see sexism everywhere – I would say that the image offered to us of what a ‘woman’ is today is far, far narrower than it has been for a very long time.
This might be an argument that people disagree with, but in the middle of that video (sorry, it’s 24 minutes long, but it really is worth watching all the way through) the narrator mentions that it’s okay to use the outdated stereotypes of the past in order to laugh at them, only if you really know the risks. I think the implication is that actually these supposedly outdated stereotypes are not really all that long-gone. Maybe in fifty years’ time or so, we will be able to laugh at this era, because we will have reached equality. Until then, I think it’s dangerous; it’s restricting women’s options, and similarly men’s options as well. If the vision of ‘what is a woman’ is restrictive, then so, too, is the vision of ‘what is a man’, although oddly enough that definition, I’d argue, is gradually broadening in a way that femininity isn’t.
Why, for example, are so many “anti-ageing” products targeted at women? Yes, there are some aimed at men, but not nearly so many. Why are men allowed to age and women not? The vulnerability of the unaltered face is an idea I find profoundly moving; it’s something that women in the media seem to be denied.
And one other thought. This may not be a very popular idea. But: we all laugh at sexism, right, because sexism’s clearly outdated. Which means that it’s hilarious to portray a woman as a ‘dumb blonde sex symbol’ because we all know better than that. Right? In contrast, racism. That’s bad. So why aren’t the outdated stereotypes of what differentiates the races used in comedy to the same extent? It would be shocking, yes?
Doesn’t it come to the same thing, though? The stereotype which classed non-Europeans as ‘inferior’ and ‘sub-human’ opened the door for the slave trade. As anyone with half a braincell knows, that was/is an utterly nonsensical idea.
I am not comparing the subjugation of women with the slave-trade, by the way. But, surely it would be really rather sickening to see a black person in a TV Comedy played out in an Early modern/Early 20th Century stereotypical/racist way?
So why is it acceptable to present women through that same tunnel vision?