All forms of discrimination have no excuse. Racism, sexism or any other should be uprooted from our communities. Learn how sexism in media affects people.
The word “sexism” may sound new to you, but the thing it describes by all means is not new. Unfortunately sexism has been a part of human history and culture for thousands of years. It is described in the Bible in the Book of Genesis and in the Book of Judges. Presently it has taken on a new shape – media sexism. So, what is sexism in general and what is sexism in media in particular? Let’s get some answers.
Basically sexism is gender discrimination. It stands in one row with racism, religious discrimination, and human rights violation. It is manifested in the form of gender inequality. What is gender inequality? It is when one person is considered to be less worthy and is treated poorly just because she is a woman, because of the way she was born. People in Nigeria are well acquainted with the racism. This inequality is based on the color of skin, on the amount of melanin one has in the body. Racism is absurd, but for many years Nigerians were treated poorly, enslaved, abused and sold by their “white masters”.
Today most countries including Nigeria perceive such things as unacceptable. Still, how come gender discrimination in Nigeria and all over the globe continues? Is there any good reason why a human being should be abused, poorly treated and bereft of dignity and basic things in life just because she is not a man? Any discrimination is absurd and has no logical background.
One of the common examples of gender discrimination which is also found in Nigeria is low access to education for girls. In many African villages girls are not even sent to schools. Their fathers see no use in such a thing and deny their daughters the right to education. There are many more limitations that women have to put up with even in our modern world.
In some countries they have no right to drive a car. In others they are forced to wear certain attires. In some places women are forbidden to travel or to pick their mates in life, etc. In many regions women are just viewed as sex objects. They endure harassment and abuse and have no place to turn to for protection and help.
Now, what is sexism in the media?
In our days media bereft humans of their dignity. It is done through advertising, film making and other means. People get publicly shamed and bullied on the internet. Naked bodies can be seen all over the place: on ad boards, on flyers, on TV, in the cinema, etc. Media shamelessly utilizes human bodies to promote various goods and services.
However, the use of male and female bodies in it is different. In many cases they are presented as sex objects. Women take sexy positions on ads. Their bodies get “chopped up” and the parts are used to promote various goods. This is rarely done to men and their images. Plus, the new “beauty standards” make things only worse.
Women are demanded to look very unrealistic. They have to be super slender and young looking at any age. Recently Renee Zellweger showed up on the red carpet and the media got up that “shock” campaign about how she has aged. She is just a human and has the right to age as all of us do.
No one can stay young forever. However, media demands from people the impossible and women are deemed as beautiful and attractive as long as they stay super thin and young.
Moreover, the use of Photoshop creates an impossible standard for ladies. It changes the shade of the black women’s skin to a lighter shade adding racism to sexism. They cut out certain parts of the body to make ladies look impossibly thin and shape that lack of self-worth in all the girls and females, who cannot meet it. Sexism in media targets female self-esteem, brings it down to nothing and stimulates women to buy more useless products which promise to keep them young and make them “perfect”.
Which is worse, sexism in the media shapes male perceptions about the female beauty. They start measuring the real women in their lives against that ideal and women suffer even more. Media objectifies female body parts, thus it turns them into products. The products are meant to be consumed. We consume such things as yogurts or meat and never hear it complain to us about the abuse, right? So, why should women complain, when they get sexually consumed?
Such an approach shapes rapist mentality and increases the level of gender violence in the society. Advertising and media has a huge role to play in it. So, what are some of the consequences of sexism in the media:
- low self-esteem in women;
- objectification of their bodies and parts;
- increased level of sexual crimes and violence;
- home violence;
- gender discrimination;
- sexual immorality and sin;
- people trafficking and sex abuse.
Seems like such a “harmless” thing as a cool ad with few photos of nice girls does have some grave and even life threatening consequences. We get so used to seeing naked and dissembled bodies in the media, that we become rather insensitive to them. We stop seeing it as immorality and tweak our moral standards up to the media fashion. We fail to follow God’s standards of purity in our lives.
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Solutions for sexism in the media:
What is to be done about this problem and how can it be solved? There are several things to do:
- Female education
First of all, women in society have to become its valid part. They need to be able to get education and the ability to provide for themselves. In some countries the parents of a woman even pay dowry to the man’s family, as they view girls as financial burden. Many women struggle with abusive husbands or end up homeless or even killed just because they have no way of providing for themselves and their kids.
Education is the way to women empowerment. It opens up new opportunities and prospects in life for them and their entire families. Even the old Africa saying goes like this: educate a woman, and you would educate the entire family. As she would pass on her knowledge and dignity to her children.
Men should finally realize that they cannot preserve their own dignity humiliating another human being. Those, who deem themselves very spiritual and Christian should realize that God has created both men and women in His own image and likeness. The Bible tells us that we cannot show love and respect to God, if we put down and treat poorly a person created in His image.
- Stop gender inequality
There is just one thing to be done: give women equal rights with the men. Yes, we are different, but we are equal. We do things differently and have different abilities, but they all should be celebrated as those coming from God and being endowed by Him.
- Stop making sexual objects out of female bodies
All bodies are great, because they are given by our Creator. There is no standard of beauty we all should fall under. He has never introduced one, so why should we even worry over another person’s ideas on the beauty? We should accept and be thankful for what we have and enjoy our lives to the fullest.
Any person is a worthy human and a precious soul regardless of their race, color, gender or age. This is something many outstanding African leaders fought for and such values should be installed on our children from the very young age. Then they would grow up having no notion of discriminating others just because they differ.
As you see, sexism in media is a serious thing. It has the power to damage lives of many women around the globe and in Nigeria in particular. Once we stop consuming such “products”, the media would stop producing them. As the supply is regulated by the demand.