As a woman who wants to become part of the media industry and as a feminist, it is my job to feel a responsibility to write stories, create characters, and produce images that improve the social position of women. In mass media, women are currently depicted as hyper-sexualized beings, who are unable to escape the norms and values of a hegemonic patriarchal world. According to Wilson’s article, “Women of Color,” sexism and racism serve as major obstacles for women in the media industry. In fact, women are often portrayed as objects of sex and violence in a male dominated society where they have no authoritative position. If women held more positions of power then there would be more opportunities for them to gain equal footing in the media industry.
According to Martha Lauzen in her article “Celluloid Ceiling,” women comprise of only 17% of directors, writers, producers in the top 250 domestic gross producing films. However, this number isn’t shocking at all because it reflects the current issues of a heavily flawed system. If there are a scarce number of females who work behind the scenes in media industries, then women won’t be fairly represented.
It is clearly problematic that women have a lack of voice behind the scenes because it has a direct correlation with how women are portrayed in the media. Martha Lauzen says, “My research shows that if you have women working behind the scenes, you get more characters on screen.” But how can you get more women behind the scenes? Women have to jump a lot of hurdles before holding a position of power.
One issue that women, gays, and other minorities must overcome is tokenism “in an industry notorious for its lack of performance in achieving diversity goals” (Wilson, Gutierriez et. al Chao 1). In the reading “Women of Color,” there is an example of tokenism in the media industry. One show that was known to break down racial barriers was “Julia.” According to the article Wilson, “In response to break social movements and racial reforms of the 1960’s, the television began to represent images of ‘respectable’ images of blacks that more closely reflected America’s sense of racial morality”(2). However, the show suffered a drawback because the African American audience felt disconnected to Julia, who represented a middle class nurse, and thought blacks were represented as tokens. The issue of tokenism is still pervasive in the media industry as well as the United States government.
One issue of tokenism dwells within the representation of women in United States Congress. According to Karen O’Connor’s book Women in Congress: running, winning, and ruling, “there is a critical mass that women must achieve to move past a role of tokenism in the legislative body. For women to be effectively represented in the House, there must be a substantial increase in descriptive female representation” (39). The other day I was watching CNN. The Rutgers Center for American Women Politics showed that women hold 16.4% of seats in the US Senate and 16.4% in the US Congress. Even though women are a minority in the Senate and Congress, I think that they can use their position of power to pave the way for future generations.
The other day I was watching CNN on April 13th, the democratic women in congress took a stand to protect women’s healthcare. The congress was voting on two amendments that went directly after women: to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides preventive healthcare for millions of women and to defund healthcare that ensures that women get equal access to healthcare where they aren’t charged more than men. One senator said, “We are not going to continue and stand by and watch women as pawns”(Youtube). By observing their passion for women’s healthcare, I was completely inspired to ensure that future generations of women will be better off than the one before it.
Wilson, Clint C., Félix Gutiérrez, Lena M. Chao, and Clint C. Wilson. “Women of Color.” Racism, Sexism, and the Media: the Rise of Class Communication in Multicultural America. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003. Print.
“Congress_CurrentFacts.” Center for American Women and Politics. 2010. Web. 14 Apr. 2011.
“YouTube – Republicans Continue Their Assault On Women’s Health.” Republicans Continue Assualt on Women’s Health. Web. 14 Apr. 2011.