Thursday, October 13, 2011

Women, Media, and Power... or lack there of

A friend of mine posted this video on her Facebook and I immediately felt the need to share it with you. What do you think about media and the social perceptions of women? Did you feel pressure growing up and do you think that girls these days feel it even more?

Personally I think that Brazil has the same issue and then some. Hell, 4 yr old girls at my sons' school bring in make up to play with. 4 yr olds with make up at school?!

Your thoughts?


  1. You know, every time i think about these issues it ticks me off! The media is pretty paltry in terms of offering role models for everyone, not just women.

    There does seem to be more sexualization of women in Brazil than the USA, but I could be wrong about that. I think it depends on the genre- for example rap videos- created/steered by white males. In general, the media is controlled by this multi-privileged group. The images say more about them and their shadow than the people being splashedo nt he screen.

    One solution, for me personally, is to limit my exposure to media and interact with real people.

  2. Interesting how "the more things change...the more they remain the same"
    I was reading an interview with the head of Fox and he said that the reason he hired Sarah Palin was because she was hot...and it would attract male viewers. (paraphrasing) I don't care for her...but am mad that they are using her...she may be using them back to get what she and attention...but isn't all of it saying the same thing? Woman...nothing worthwhile to contribute, but good to look at...

  3. It definitely starts early in Brasil..I remember having seen a 1 year old baby girl with red fingernails and earrings.. or a 11 year old wearing a bra.. what for? Good for you that you have two boys! I imagine it to be difficult to "protect" a girl from such influences..

  4. I can definitely chime in on this one as I have a 12 year old daughter, soon to be 13. Now luckily in this aaspect that she has been raised in the "Bible belt" of South Carolina so it's not Miami or Brazil for that matter but not to say that she is sheltered from the media or is Amish either. I have always used parental discretion when it comes to TV, radio and such materials that is not appropriate. With my 10 year old son as well. So they have never been allowed to watch adult themed shows/movies,etc.
    But most importantly than just parenting them this way, I have balanced this with explaining to them the way the world and the media works and WHY these shows, songs, pictures, etc even exist in the first place. I've explained to my daughter how girls and women are sexualized and that "sex sells" and the whole story so she knows when she sees these things, that it's not something to try and replicate because it's good, it's actually a bad thing and it's all just for fame and money. I've been very lucky that she is naturally a conservative soul without much effort on my part but I also want my son to know that girls are not sexual objects for his satisfaction. I can tell you this challenge is going to be tougher...the male brain seems to be locked into this circuit..LOL
    I've only been to Rio twice but both times I was shocked to see little 4-5 year old girls dancing the "booty" dance, grinding down and dirty like an adult woman in a music video and this was considered "cute" or "normal." I actually was sickened by this and felt sorry for this little girl who already is being put on display for some amusement. But I also realize this is my opinion and there are many things that are normal there and not everywhere else. I just feel extremely strong about protecting our children's virtues and innocence. Especially little girls when they are so impressionable and fragile.
    I don't think the image of women is going to change in Brazil or anytwhere for that matter until the women stop putting themselves out there as such and/or stop taking the abuse that is given out by the media and men when it is given.

  5. A friend of mine was called in for a teacher parent meeting because of her daughter here in Rio. Apparently the teacher felt that the little 5 year old girl didn't know she was a girl. Then suggested to the mother to get her ears pierced and paint her nails. We both laughed at the situation but I feel the pressure to be girly more here than in the US and I feel that the pressure starts early.

    I get questioned all the time about the gender of my baby, now 2 months, because I haven't pierced her ears yet. The next question out of their mouth is why not? Kinda crazy! I know that it's all of Latin America that does this and not just Brazil but I find it weird.

  6. if I have a baby girl I will pierce her ears right away.
    She can play w make up / nails when she is young just for fun.
    But have a proper manicure and make up only when she is a teenager.

  7. My daughter is very girly in the sense of makeup, nails, etc. although she never liked playing with dolls as a child which was fine with me. I'd rather her not think her only job in the world is to have babies.

    She was bald as an onion though until about 4 years old so I never had the opportunity to put bows, etc in her hair which made me sad. I did however get her ears pierced at 9 months old and even with this and her dressed all in pink from head to toe, people would STILL think she was a boy...UGH!

    I see nothing wrong with little girls getting their ears pierced and/or nails done and playing with makeup. To me that is just a natural instinct built into females if your child is like this. And it can be completely innocent. If this is what the child enjoys and it makes her happy in a non-sexual way, just childhood innocence, I see no big deal.

    Where I see it become a concern is when the child starts to form an opinion that they have to or want to be this way to appear pretty for boys or like the girls they see on TV, etc. Their connections are not based on innocence anymore or playing but on the pressure to look this way for other reasons. This is when we need to take a step back and start talking to them.

  8. The sexualization of women in the media (or anywhere else) bothers me much less than the fact that any assertive woman is immediately labeled a "bitch". I agree that men should not have the right to define how women are represented; unfortunately women are often just as critical (if not more so) of other women...the kind of scathing criticism that Hillary Clinton receives from all sides would never in a million years be leveled against a guy.
    That said, the fact that abercrombie sells thongs for 9 year old is absurd and pretty damn disturbing...

  9. Thanks for posting this. You know, I don't really think about this all that often, but I think it is because I am too used to it, so it doesn't phase me. How unfortunate. May we women be good role models to the younger girls in our lives that being beautiful woman is something that happens on the inside. There is nothing wrong with beauty products and dressing up, but if that is where your value as a person lies, well... you have missed the mark.

    Honestly, looking back at my childhood, I never really felt this pressure. Maybe I was oblivious to it, maybe it wasn't there for some reason, I don't know. But I feel that in my twenties - WOW. So much pressure to be thin enough, classy enough, sexy-but-not-skanky enough. The three things that I can say are different between now and before are (1) I was not competing for jobs/men/etc. (But now I have the man and the job... but before, you know?) (2) I moved from a small town to a much larger city -- totally different environment. (3) I am much more integrated with Brazilian culture through family and friends. This is a beautiful thing, to be sure, but my eyes are opened to the pressure my friends/sister-in-law/other extended family feels and what they say about it. Thoughts that never were present in my life such as "You must be beautiful at all times" and "You are a 'full-fledged woman' once you get married" kind of mentality. So incredibly different than what I was raised with.

  10. Let me speak about the other side of the coin. I cannot speak with any authority about girls, but I worked as a psycholigist for 10 years with men who also experienced these socialization dynamics.

    I treated/counseled men who battered their wives. I led two groups of 8 or 10 batterers a week for nearly 10 YEARS.

    The social construction of masculinity and the enforcement of dominance and supremacy is undeniable. Ask any boy about what he feels are his expectations.

    Like it or not, boys are taught to dominate. They are taught that power is right. They are discouraged from being emotionally vulnerable and open.

    The flip side is the sexualization and vunerability of the women in their life.

    I wish I had good news to share - but the guys out there are not changing... That's what 10 years in the business taught me.

  11. I agree that there is more pressure here in Brazil. It's amazing that kids come to school with make up at 4. I wasn't allowed at 10!

    And Jim, your point is hardcore. But it is a very good point.

  12. I think kids like Suri Cruise are bad examples by wearing "high" heels.

    There was a shop in england selling padded bras for 7-8 years old but consumers banned it !!

    Small girls just pretending to be like mummy or having fun w friends painting their nails , wearing a lipgloss or glittering their face is innocent and healthy in my opinion.

  13. Jim, you bring up a good point. I DO NOT raise my son like this and I will let any parent that I see treat their son like a little toy soldier know it as well.

  14. Jim- We had the same job!!!! Where did you work?