Emily Question One In the piece written by Susan

Emily Ravet

Professor Carolyn Eichner

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Introduction to Women and Gender
Studies 201-001

December 18th, 2017

Final Exam: Question One

            In
the piece written by Susan Douglas titled “Enlightened Sexism”, she discusses
the differences between how women were presented in media during the 1950’s and
60’s and how women were presented by the media in current times. In the 50’s
and 60’s, women were represented in media as housewives. There are many reasons
as to why media presented it this way. Currently, since the 1990’s, women have
been overrepresented as being equally represented in high level professions (Douglas,
in Women’s Voices, p. 283). By this
occurring, it gives women the impression that equal rights have already been
achieved.  

            Douglas
writes, “Back then, the media illusion was the aspirations of girls and women
weren’t changing at all when they were (Douglas, in Women’s Voices, p. 283).
Now, the media is giving off the illusion that equality of women is an
accomplished when it is not. This says that women’s roles within media were
being portrayed the opposites. This is not done on accident, within the
patriarchy, men prefer the power to be held to men. If women are shown that
they have achieved all equality, there will be no backlash from women demanding
equality. They will believe that there is no reason to do so. Back in the 50’s
and 60’s, women were coming into the work force in large numbers. There was a
large influx of women entering the work force (Field, in “The Life and Times of
Rosie the Riveter”, Video). World War II veterans were coming home and wanting
jobs back and the men could have felt threatened by the women coming into the
work force. The government pushed out propaganda that made women want to join
the work force in the meantime, the men were at war. During this time, women
found a sense of purpose in the time they worked, creating goods that were used
in war and filling the positions of men during the time they were gone. After
the war, the men wanted to have their jobs back. They wanted women to step down
and the men to take their jobs back (Field, in “The Life and Times of Rosie the
Riveter”, Video). Another reasoning is that there is a goal for people in power
is to have the mythical norm holding power as well. The mythical norm is someone
who fits the general definition of a white, middle class, heterosexual, able
bodies, thin, young adult and male (Shaw & Lee, in Women’s Voices, p. 49). Within an institution, this is commonly
seen. Institutions are “officially placed into a structured system or set of
practices” (Shaw & Lee, in Women’s
Voices, p. 51). They function to support systems of inequality and
privilege (Douglas, in Women’s Voices,
p. 583). With these institutions, they are working to not benefit women,
therefore the white men hold all the privileges. Intersectionality plays a part
in this, for example, when someone is a black woman, they are more likely to
face more discrimination than a white woman in a career setting (Douglas, in Women’s Voices, p. 583). In current
times, this does not mean that women do not hold positions of this nature, but
it is not as common as the media is portraying it (Douglas, in Women’s Voices, p. 583).

During the 1950’s and 60’s, the
Miss America Pageants were widely popular. The feminist group known as, the New
York Radial Women, protested this by writing pamphlets and protesting the
pageants. Then, in the late 60’s, the second wave of women’s liberation was happening.
This group listed ten reasons as to why the pageants harmed women’s rights. They
described it as creating a “degrading, mindless-boob-girlie symbol” and making
women believe that their biggest goal was to be pretty and a model where men
could be the president (New York Radical Women, in Women’s Voices, p. 33). This shows that women were not presented as
having careers, just on television for their looks, nothing about their
intelligence. This was created to show that women did not need to get careers,
they were attempting to make jobs seem unappealing to women. This can be due to
the male gaze which is a primary motif for understanding gender in film making.
Movies are essentially made through and for the male gaze and fulfill a
voyeuristic desire for men to look at women as objects (Shaw & Lee, in Women’s Voices, p. 261). This is because
men held all the directing positions and they still do. They are the ones who
were of portraying women in the media as only housewives during the 50’s and
60’s and now in the 2000’s they are portraying women as achieving equality.

In contrast to the 50’s and 60’s,
now, women are being portrayed as in charge. When in fact, women are not
holding these positions as commonly as media is making it seem. At the same
time this happens, women are believing that they have already achieved equality
(Douglas, in Women’s Voices, p. 583).
This portrayal is done on purpose. Martha Burk breaks this apart in her recently
written article from 2005, “Power Plays: Six Ways the Male Corporate Elite
Keeps Women Out”. She brings up six points that say how men create this cycle
of dominance that keeps women out of jobs and achieving high positions. It is
done because power re-creates itself in its own image, elites enforce norms and
systems that guarantee power, creates a sense of entitlement, creates
invulnerability, leading to flaunting of society’s standards, loyalty to power
overshadows other loyalties, group loyalty combined with power can trump
correct judgement and overshadows our own moral codes (Burk, in Women’s Voices, p. 525-528). This
cycle pushes women out of getting these high-status positions and giving little
opportunity of growth within a business. It makes men stay in power and choose
people to follow them who look similar to them (Burk, in Women’s Voices, p. 525-528). While media is making it appear as
women are in these high positions. When, this is not the truth.

Although the roles have reversed
from the 50’s and 60’s and now, the reasons why media is portraying women is
the same reasoning. It is done so women believe that they do not need to fight
for equal rights, this scares the patriarchy. Women will witness their current
portrayals and believe in post feminism, just as though the women in the 50’s
and 60’s saw their representation and believed in housework being their only option
(Douglas, in Women’s Voices, p. 283).
It is a tool of repression, to make women believe that they are in a good
position. When in reality, there is room for improvement. Women are not in
equal positions of power, especially within institutions, where women make up
so little of congress, CEO positions, and doctors.