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The Impact of Media on Women

by Helen Pilarte

Even before television, social media, or any sort of mass communication, women have been objectified and presumed unequal to the opposite sex.  One of the major steps that we as a community have taken to work towards gender equality was the legalization of women’s sovereignty.  Although this was a big step in our history, it only began a very long and difficult fight for equal rights.   Gender inequality continues to exist and is often perpetuated through media.  These inequalities vary from day to day and represent the micro level –  like posts made on social media – and the macro level, such as presidential speeches.

For this reason, I wanted to further examine how much of what we see in the media can truly affect us and how we view ourselves.  As women we are taught that we must act, look, and speak a certain way; If not, we will be disciplined and policed into acting the appropriate way.  This is seen through television programs like “Miss America,” lyrics by mainstream artists like Kanye West, news broadcasts, and talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh.  When public figures have such large platforms and reinstate these ideals that are so demeaning to women, we can begin to see how they directly affect young women in our society.

I chose to examine this from the perspective of young women of color college students.  I asked fifteen women to tell me something a public figure has said that they felt directly objectified them as women either in the present day or while growing up.  The figures ranged from musical artists, talk show hosts, film actors, and to no surprise the President of the United States.

These ideologies teach women that their value stems from physical attributes and not their intellectual capacity.  We are taught that our value depends on how much we appeal to the male gaze.  For this reason, I saw fit to photograph women pursuing a higher education.  Although these women are already taking a step forward by pursuing an education, they are reminded of this superficial ideology every time they log into a social media account or turn on a television screen..  Because of the variety of media platforms and diversity of quotes that these students chose, we can see just how consuming and influential the media can be.

Messages in each photograph:

“Belle is the most beautiful girl in the village. That makes her the best.” — Gaston, ‘Beauty and the Beast’
Gabriela Ortiz, University at Buffalo

“Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy, capitalism and become lesbians.” -Pat Robertson, Founder of ABC Family
Gabriela Jimenez, University at Buffalo

“That p*ssy should only be holding exclusive rights to me..” -Kanye West
Joanne Green, University at Albany

“Hey, no one takes my wife’s mouth except me.” –Lizzie in Cars
Kathy Tavarez, University at Albany

“Let’s start a movement- a movement of men who aren’t afraid to stop violence against women.” -Carlos Andres Gomez (The Guardian)
Lexus Walker, University at Albany

 Sway: What’s your favorite position? Lauren Conrad: CEO  -On Sway in The Morning
Morgan Miller, University at Albany

“Started wearing less and goin’ out more…Used to always stay at home, be a good girl.” -Hotline Bling, Drake
Kadijah Lewis, University at Albany

“It must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees” – Trump to former Baywatch star and Playboy model Brande Roderick
Christine Lopez, University at Albany

(not pictured) “Not to be sexist, but I can’t vote for the leader of the free world to be a woman. … Just because, every other position that exists, I think a woman could do well. Every other position. But president? It’s kind of like, I just know that women make rash decisions emotionally…” – T.I. On Shade 45’s The Whoolywood Shuffle

(pictured) “Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy, capitalism and become lesbians.” -Pat Robertson, Founder of ABC Family
Karina Tavarez, SUNY Oswego

“[Humans] are all so predictable.” — Doghan-Dagul “Clearly, you have never met a woman.” — Laureline, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Wilsis Cuevas, University at Albany

Helen Pilarte is a third year student at the University at Albany, majoring in Communications and minoring in Sociology.  As a Latina growing up New York City, she had to face the policing of ideals set by a male-dominated society.  This led her to branch out of social norms by pursuing an education and developing her self identity around her own ideals.