Culture and Media Works Sexual Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Similarly, women today feel the need to appear beautiful and perfect all the time in order to be a part of a class in society. According to what Kilbourne suggests, women use their bodies as masks or objects that need to be taken care of all the time and kept in perfect shape and condition. The media and the advertisements program their minds to think that their appearance is not perfect and they need to change themselves in a particular manner (Kilbourne, 2002).

One of the main roles that media has played in this subject is to make an individual perceive themselves from the eyes of others and to take it as a responsibility to be appealing to the eyes of the audience instead of what they themselves want to do. Advertisements today sell the bodies of women, not in the literal sense but metaphorically speaking, all advertisements have women in them in one way or the other which they present in a way to attract the buyer to test the product. Many times we will notice that the women have nothing to do with the product being sold but the perception of the people is that in order to make the product successful, they have to include women in some way or the other.

The recent diversion of attention towards this objectification of women has started to perceive the implications of the dismemberment of the women in society. What we mean by this term is the fact that such advertisements focus their attention on just one part of the women's body while the importance of the woman, her opinions, and her personality as a whole is largely neglected. What we need to recognize here is the fact that by this internalization, we are indeed letting this exploitation and objectification of women increase and this undermines the women and her importance in society. The subjects in question are themselves making the unacceptable acceptable and are choosing to stay quite about it.

In order to assess the implications of this sexual objectification and the effects of the women portrayal via the media, Kuring and Tiggemann (2004) went on to conduct their research by carrying out a study at a university in South Australia where they handed out questionnaires regarding the feelings about the way self objectification was affecting the women in question and how this was affecting their lives. It turned out that there were heavy consequences of this phenomenon and the self surveillance cost the women a lot that they simply were not realizing. The most common implications were the ones which were outlined above as well like depression, self-consciousness, shame and disorders as well as dysfunctions (Tiggemann & Kuring, 2004).

Another similar study was carried out by Noll, Fredrickson and Roberts in 1998 at the University of Duke where they conducted laboratory sessions to assess the same implications and they ranked the attributes of the body in order of the importance attached to it by the respondents. They found that the most prominent one was shame in not having the appropriate look and not being able to maintain that beauty that the society demanded. This particular study saw the way motivation and behavior of people was changing in relation to these societal demands and they reached the conclusion which stated that the culture was seriously impacting the women in negative ways. Their study also went further on to evaluate the link between the roles that media was playing in programming this behavior and how this resulted in the abnormalities in society and women attitudes (Roberts, Noel, Fredrickson, 1998).

As mentioned earlier as well, although objectification is being given some awareness in society, there is yet to be lighter shed on the dismemberment of the women's body where every single part of the women's body is being treated as a separate entity to sell and advertise. In the next section, we will discuss some of the advertisements whereby this has taken place and how t exploits the woman's sexuality and the body. The concept of dismemberment basically deals with the idea of putting all the parts of the women as separate parts that can be used in different ways to attract the audience and the target market. It instills the concept in women which states that even if one part of the women's body is not up to the level of satisfaction, the whole idea of the body's beauty is ruined. This is particularly why young girls are attracted and pushed into these ideas from a very small level so that they can keep working on their body in order to bring them up to the level of perfection as they grow up. They present the idea of the body as a work in progress which continuously has to be taken care of so that it can become what the society and its members demand it to be.

The researches and surveys suggest that sometimes women go to the extent of comparing themselves and being depressed for the fact that they are no match for the women advertised and marketed. In advertisements women are presented as having the perfect bodies and being sexually erotic to those men who see them. This undermines the concept of a regular woman and makes her feel bad about her own body and the place that she stands in. What they fail to recognize is that what they see is not necessarily real and has been worked upon and is sometimes just mere Photoshop which makes those women look in a particular way. More importantly, it is not all that important to be so concerned about these petty, senseless issues. Hence, the idea of self objectification is the root cause that needs to be dealt with and the way media is giving a rise to more and more of this factor in society.

Apart from these researches and studies, there are a number of other scholarly arguments presented regarding this topic and the seriousness of this particular subject. One of these arguments was regarding the cultural differences in the concept of beauty among states like the United States, Singapore, Taiwan and other such countries. This was conducted by Katherine, Hong Cheng and Ping Shaw in 2005 and focused on the differences in the portrayal of women in all three societies in order to asses which one of them-based most importance on this external beauty. They hence derived that the United States ranked first in giving a heads up to this objectification closely followed by the other two but Singapore and Taiwan were mainly focused on the need for the female to have a pretty face rather than any other parts. The American states were more focused on the clothes and objectification by portraying the woman will minimal amount of clothes while Singapore based their objectification on the use of cosmetics mainly.

Donna Sweeney and Stephen H. Wagner wrote about the depiction of women as mere sex objects in the advertising industry and the ways in which that impacted the satisfaction women gained from their bodies. In this research, they talked about how the perceptions of the two genders have seen changes after the depiction in media and the way they are portrayed in sexist as well as non-sexist advertisements. They studied in the mental as well as the physical implications that media has had on the behavior and appearance of the genders.

Katherine Covell conducted her study along with Natalie J. about the impacts of women advertising and the link between the portrayal and the effects that this has such as aggression, depression and undermining of the gender. They also talked about how this contributes towards the acceptance of male domination in society and giving in to the need to please the men and sexually arouse them by the notion of the women's body.

The study conducted by Zimmerman, John Dahlberg and Amanda tested the objectification of women in media across various cultures and how young females felt about this. They asked around whether any offence was taken of this by the women themselves and whether this bothered them in anyway. Their results reflected upon the way women had become largely indifferent towards the portrayal of media and how they had grown accustomed to seeing women presented on the media in such a manner. They did however reflect that this portrayal of women in media did change the way in which females tended to spend money on buying products. They may not have given so much importance to taking care of their physical appearance before but they eventually started noticing how this was becoming an important factor (M. Tiggemann, 2004).

These were just the studies, scholar arguments and surveys conducted by some of the researchers. The following section will however focus on the actual advertisements and role of media that it plays to objectify women and how dismemberment of the women's body…

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