The Influence of Media, Friends, Family, and History on Gender Equality in Society

The commercials and ads blare their messages loud and clear. The jokes from

family and friends make their presence known. Human beings have treated each other poorly for as long as they have existed, but does there seem to be any signs of halting? Illegitimate gender theories and direction have tangled themselves into the bare nature of our society. Is there any more hope left for equality? These strange views on “gender roles” in today’s society are illustrated in the articles “The Gender Blur,” by Deborah Blum, “Two Ways,” by Jean Kilbourne, and “The Gender Trap,” by Sherry Gorelick. These three authors dive into their ideologies of how and why our culture victimizes women through their own personal experiences. Blum, Kilbourne, and Gorelick all discuss the influence of the media, genetics, friends and family, and history through their individual conversations about the flaws of today’s world regarding respect for gender equality while dipping their arguments in a little too much personal bias.

Throughout the development of all three arguments, Blum, Kilbourne, and Gorelick trace, from their own point of view, their experiences with gender inequality. All three authors vary in the severity of their arguments; Blum is calmer, while Kilbourne and Gorelick take a more aggressive, violent take. Gorelick and Kilbourne are guilty of generalizing and jumping quickly to unfair conclusions about large demographics of people. Generalizations are made quickly, giving not only men, but also partially women, an unfair perception of themselves through the words of the authors. Kilbourne reminds readers of a petty Diet Pepsi commercial, in which actress Cindy Crawford is cawed at by young boys, but as it turns out, the words were intended to be directed at the Diet Pepsi Crawford held in her hand. Kilbourne takes no time and says that “the boys already have

the right to ogle, to view women’s bodies as property to be looked at, commented on, touched, perhaps eventually hit and raped” (Kilbourne. 268. 30).

Kilbourne explains to readers that because of commercials involving such banter, men think rape is okay. This is obviously not correct. This accusation jumps to a distant conclusion and creates an illegitimate atmosphere about her writing. Not only is Kilbourne a victim of generalization, but Sherry Gorelick is no different. In her writing, the author dares to speak of her daughter’s interactions with other babies as such: “her encounters with male babies were, without exception, sexualized.” Both authors create problems for themselves by digging holes, causing a reader, such as myself, to get frustrated and angry with their reasoning. The writing of both authors reflects perfectly to show that while some might use the media as an excuse to commit bad crimes and actions, it can also be used as an excuse to make a ridiculous, unrealistic argument.

In Gorelick’s article, the people in her life that surround her put unneeded pressures on her infant daughter. Her friends make remarks like, “She’s learning to get all the men dancing around her” (Gorelick. 62) while an elder man in an elevator says “Will be boyfriend for her” (Gorelick. 60), referring to a future relationship he has apparently planned out between her daughter and his grandson. Gorelick sees these words as threats, and does not take a liking to them. Were either of these fleeting remarks legitimate? No. Neither of the people she encountered meant what they said. Many times, those who surround us want us to know they support us, but sometimes they do not know how to communicate their feelings. Because Gorelick is a new mother, she cannot be blamed for her over-protective nature. Just as Gorelick deals her hand to the maternal choir, Blum also plays a hand in the overreacting game. Blum’s son, an fiend for anything related to

dinosaurs, once was playing around his mother’s leg, to which Blum reacted with, “I

looked down at him one day, as he was snarling around my feet and doing his toddler best to gnaw off my right leg, and I thought: this goes a lot deeper than culture” (Blum. 1). To think of a little boy’s playful spirit to be dangerous would be silly. Obviously, personal experiences with other humans hold more weight than through an indirect source. The influence of the media cannot be disregarded in this conversation about disrespectful comment, however. Kilbourne does not hesitate to describe a woman, barely clothed, standing in an elevator by saying, “this could be seduction, but it could as easily be an attack” (Kilbourne. 464. 17). Yes, the portrayal of this woman was shocking, and displeasing. However, it is by no means promoting rape, or rape culture. The words accompanying the image, “push my buttons. I’m looking for a man who can totally floor me. Who won’t stop ’till the top. You: Must Live in SYN” (Kilbourne. 464. 17) are obviously promoting promiscuous action, but nothing about those words promotes rape.

All three authors have something to say about gender roles, and they do all pitch in from three different perspectives, lending readers an interesting sample of their own personal views. Blum, Gorelick, and Kilbourne are passionate members of society who have the right to voice their own opinions. However, this does not excuse the style and fashion in which they all chose to go about it. These writers are similar, and their work

works in conversation with each other.

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