July 30, 2012
Today’s youth retains a lot of information from television which causes a massive problem for females. False representation of women and the continued belief that they are simply objects to the male’s perception are a direct cause of the ways women have been represented in the media, especially on television. There are some television shows now that are more positive toward women, and there has been progress made, but women are still in need of better representation in the media even with this improvement. The images that are causing the problems need to be changed. The way women are represented in the media should be of strong interest because of how so many people are affected by it. Because the media is so influential, it is important to look at the representations that it gives to society.
Gender roles of featured women in the 1950s and 60s were portrayed as skillful housekeepers and gave in to their husbands every demand. According to Judith Lorber, who is a Professor Emeriti of Sociology and Women’s Studies at The Graduate Center and Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, Women made up only thirty-two percent of all characters on television and were almost never shown outside a home setting (Lorber 20). However, shows that focused on women started to increase in the 1970s. Charlie's Angels showed women who were tough crime fighters although they worked for and took orders from the mysterious male named Charlie and were dressed to appeal to the males. The Mary Tyler Moore Show told of an independent and satisfied woman who wasn’t held down by a man or husband but unfortunately her “passive” female side was still portrayed on the show. Shows that include divorced women who do just fine without their husbands became to grow in popularity as well. The 1970s show One Day at a Time showed a woman who is experiencing independence after divorcing her husband. She recognizes that having her decisions made for her have made it difficult for her to deal with decision making for herself. However, she is willing to try and work at it. But by the 1980s, all of the house wife tales seemed to disappear.
Shows like L.A. Law introduced women who worked in the typical male jobs. However, the story lines of some of the episodes show how women are thought of when they wanted to and tried to be self-determined. Sergeant Lucy Bates from L.A. Law tries to find a decent man to date. She also falls in love with her partner, who does not return the affections. This is an example that implies a man is key for the true completion of a woman's life and shows how in order to be successful women; she must sacrifice any chance for love. Grace Van Owen who is an attorney from L.A. Law is driven, but unable to cope fully with her job and becomes addicted to pills, then has a nervous breakdown. Since then women have still not gained more characters on television.
Tonei Glavinic, who is a graduate from American University with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality, says there is only about 1 in 3 characters on prime-time television who are women. He continues with, “Females on television are more concerned with sex and marriage than their male counterparts. They are also perceived as young beauties. While the men on television are also supposed to be good looking, it is more of a priority that the women be young and good-looking. In fact, the cut-off age for female portrayal is age forty; for men it is ten years higher, at age fifty” (Glavinic 2) It seems like in today's shows it is found normal for men to talk more, give orders, solve problems, and run things over the women.
While watching popular children's cartoons and live action shows like Big Guy and Rusty, The Zeta Project, Card Captors, Los Luchadores, and Action Man you can see females being rescued from various situations unable to fend for themselves.