Sexuality in the media
BOSTON–Over the years, sex appeal has become more apparent in advertisements, movies, and television shows, but has the media taken it too far?
Provocative images of women cover television screens and magazine pages everywhere you turn. The National Eating Disorders Association reports that “one out of four TV commercials send some kind of attractiveness message, telling viewers what is and is not attractive.”
“Gossip Girl,” “90210,” and “The OC” are some popular prime-time television shows geared towards teenagers. These shows are entertaining but aren’t very realistic. They don’t teach teens practical views on sexual or moral behavior. The characters are high school students who live lavish lives from the upper east side of Manhattan to the beautiful beaches of Beverly Hills; a high school lifestyle that I doubt many get to enjoy.
These images give teens a false sense of reality, so they try to emulate these fictional characters, who are having promiscuous sex, drinking and dressing provocatively.
Sex in advertisements is common; advertisers use women’s bodies to sell their products by grabbing viewer’s attention through sexual images. However, this turns women into objects instead of people. Media activist Jean Kilbourne says that women’s bodies are often dismembered into legs, breasts or thighs, reinforcing the message that women are objects rather than whole human beings.
As an excuse for this deliberate sexualization of women’s bodies in the media, people say that it’s liberating for women. Liberating means to “set free,” I don’t see how objectifying a person’s body by judging it is freeing, in fact I’d say it’s imprisoning because women begin to feel that they have to fit into this falsified mold.
In the United States alone, over 10 million women suffer from anorexoria or bulimia. The media has set such impossible standards that women are hurting themselves almost to the point of death to try and attain this image.
Two-thirds of adolescents turn to media for sexual advice. This is clearly damaging, since sex is cheapened and made to seem as “the thing to do” in TV shows. There aren’t many prime-time shows (the time when most teens are watching) that focus on moral messages.
This is also damaging to young girls because most ads show women as being submissive to men. Nicole Krassas, a studier of Cosmopolitan and Playboy magazine advertisements, found that “both men and women’s magazines contain a single vision of female sexuality—that women should primarily concern themselves with attracting and sexually satisfying men.”
In most television shows and advertisements, women are made to seem sexy and pleasing to men. For example, in beer commercials, females are always serving men beers and are always model-type waitresses who have very apparent sex appeal, yet you never see a bunch of girls sitting around drinking a pitcher of beer with a sexy male waiter, but why not?
As you can see, media has not only influenced teens into making poor moral decisions but it has also objectified women’s bodies by making them feel like objects instead of people.