Have you ever heard the expression “don’t hate the player, hate the game”? In the past year, we’ve seen Kim Kardashian riding half naked on a motor cycle, Miley Cyrus naked on a wrecking ball, and headlines regarding Lady Gaga trying to save her career by being even more scandalous in what she wears (or lack thereof).
These women are simply playing the game of “who can get the most attention” and “sex sells” which has been created and packaged by the media in order to advertise to young women that their worth is based on their appearance.
These women are not entirely to blame for this culture of exploitation of women’s bodies, as the media is the generator of this “game” that spotlights women such as Miley Cyrus because she is naked in her music videos or wearing revealing clothing.
But even though pop culture has created this system of overly sexualized ideas of women, we are as much to blame for the current culture of objectification of women’s bodies in the media. We continue to perpetuate this system when we buy magazines that exploit women’s bodies for the purpose of selling products. We support the idea that women’s value is based on their appearances and not on their accomplishments or their ability to be a role model when we buy products that use this type of advertising to sell their merchandise. Considering women make up a large number of consumers and audiences of the various media outlets, we have a lot of power in our hands to change this. And if we do not take action to change the way the media portrays women, young boys will start to develop the idea that women are objects that can be taken advantage of- attitudes that lead to domestic violence and sexual abuse. Also, girls will continue to experience low self-esteem, as the images they see on TV are unrealistic and do not promote a healthy body image.
So next time we scrutinize Miley Cyrus for being too scandalous, maybe we should take a second to consider our role in maintaining the current system of sexual exploitation. We have the power to change this, we just need to be more critical of what we watch on television, and stop supporting media outlets that promote the idea that women are only as good as how they look. Women have so much more to offer, and we need to make sure young girls understand that message.
If you would like more on this discussion, I recommend the documentary Miss Representation produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. It is an excellent film that discovers how women are “misrepresented” in the media and the challenges this causes women both in everyday life and for those who seek public office.