Media: Why Feminism Isn’t As It Seems

Feminism has been falsified through the media ever since the beginning of what many would call, the “third wave of feminism”. The media has been known to portray invalid information on many different topics, since the phrase “mass media” was coined in the 1920’s. Today, there are thousands of websites, televised news, films, and even paper forms of media. These outlets are easily accessible to masses of people, who can release whatever they please to the public. The feminist community has taken advantage of the freedom, in order to propagandize twisted information for their benefit.

The media will always be a factor contributing to the social norms that develop among our culture in the United States. An article, Gender Roles in Media, by Allison Lantagne, expresses the concern of televised gender roles. Lantagne gives examples of commercials, television shows, and movies that idolized male roles over those of females. Lantagne viewed a commercial for sidewalk chalk that had a young boy as the “main character,” in which she feels that sends a negative message to young girls. She then defends the laundry detergent company, Tide, by stating “By showing a man playing out typically “feminine” behaviors, Tide is promoting a more equal society” (2). Lantagne proceeds to give examples of television shows, and films that portray specific gender roles, in many different ways, some being more subtle than others. The author believes that the representation of gender roles through television influences society to pursue these definitive roles.

Media expanded significantly with the creation of social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. An article, How Social Media is Changing the Feminist Movement, by Nisha Chittal, a spokesperson for MSNBC, conveys the extreme shift of feminism due to new social media outlets: “Social media democratized feminist activism, opening up participation to anyone with a Twitter account and a desire to fight the patriarchy” (2). The feminist community has grown increasingly through it’s advocacy on social media. I personally have profiles on multiple social sites, and feminism is an unavoidable topic on my timeline. Before these sites, feminism still had an active community, but there was barriers between supporters. Factors such as distance, geography and culture, separated those active in the community. Social media has hurdled these boundaries by bringing people with common interests together, without actually being “together.”

Less than one hundred years ago, many great heroines fought oppression so that women could have the equal rights of men that we do today. An article on, An Open Letter to Respectfully Quit Telling Me How to “Do Feminism” (and to just support one another, please!), by Miki Agrawal, is a message to feminists, and women in general to support each other, and not give feminism an “angry” image. Women in the feminism community are often referred to as “feminazis” due to what may be perceived as extremist views. Agrawal states, “I believe we have an opportunity to continue to deepen the fragile but strengthening foundation that women stand on today, and not sabotage this foundation for the sake of ‘getting ahead’ or for clicks, shares, likes and retweets” (3). Many women have used the promotion of feminism through social media, as an open door to express angers through targeting others, rather than empower and support the movement.

In reference to the article by Lantagne, I believe that one could portray the message of advertisements, television, and film, in any way you wish. One can find many different messages in any piece of video they watch. Lantagne believes that having a young boy as the main character is discriminatory to women. I believe that all the children in the video should be looked at as innocent kids, without gender even being a consideration. The sidewalk chalk company was not advertising a gender specific product, and they included both genders of children in the video, so I don’t see a clear problem like Lantagne. If the main character were a young girl, would she be complaining? I think not. It is discriminatory of Lantagne to say that the young boy shouldn’t have been the main character in the commercial.

I strongly agree with Chittal’s piece. Outside of a debate standpoint, Chittal puts emphasis on how much social media, and media in general impact how we view the world. The media subconsciously tells us what to worry about, talk about, and what to bring to other’s attention. In relation to feminism, without the media influence, it would not have nearly the community it has today. The media has made feminism a booming topic, and Chittal expresses how that factor needs to be respected in order to truly understand feminism. Unlike Lantagne, Chittal has a recognition for how media gives false interpretations of feminism, rather than knit-picking at the possible pushing of gender roles.

Agrawal has a strong message. She has a powerful piece because she expresses a genuine concern for unity. She respects that there is room for improvement in female lives, but she doesn’t use it as ammunition to hate. I agree with her that women need to stop using oppression as a reason to hate, though more as a reason to act. I agree in her beliefs that women and men alike need to come together for equality, not target or blame each other for current problems.

With the development of technology and a wide variety of media platforms, current events will always be widespread within minutes among social media. Feminism has gotten out of hand with what I would call “fake support.” Which means that women use “being a feminist” as an excuse to target men, and argue topics that they are not fully informed about. The media should be appreciated, but we should still understand that there is real, and fake news. Feminism is over-simplified and overused as an excuse through the media.

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