I casually came across a picture on Facebook that a women shared about gender. It implies that men and women are not equal. Men were created to do certain things and women were created to do other things. I asked her about the post and she replied, “What’s the big deal, it’s just Facebook.” The quote read:
“Our generation is becoming so busying trying to prove that women can do what men can do that women are losing their uniqueness. Women weren’t created to do everything a man can do. Women were created to do everything a man can’t do.”
Recently, I considered attending a six-month course in New York city. When I told my mother about this consideration she immediately became defensive. “I’m worried about your safety, Mysti.” She suggested moving to Chicago instead (closer to my long-distance boyfriend, but still 2 hours away from him). But, the thing is, my mother has never been to New York City. The only perception of it she has is what she sees on television. We can all probably visualize a movie scene of someone being killed on a subway, mugged in an ally, or stabbed in the park in New York City. If my mother has no other perception of this city but from the media, the media had to have created her violent vision of it.
The media plays a large role in our lives. Common Sense Media conducted a national survey of 2,600 people ages 8-18. They found that on average teens spend more than six and a half hours on screens a day. George Gerbner, from the University of Pennsylvania, created the cultivation theory. This theory predicts that over time, the media cultivates certain thoughts in our minds about the real world. What we see on television greatly impacts our personal beliefs about the world. It might even affect how we see entire groups of people, like women. For example, in the media minority groups are under represented and misrepresented. When they are incorporated into television, most of the time they are there to play the victim. Putting emphasis on this in the media over and over again just confirms our beliefs that women need to be saved. Their unique trait is that they are more delicate, dainty, and vulnerable than men. Women only do certain things, so they need a man in order to survive, right? Pretty insulting.
Therefore, the media also has the power to influence my mother to believe that I would be unsafe without a man for six months. Her cultivated belief about my safety was strong enough to persuade me not to follow my dreams. And this picture, created to put down feminism, was shared over 88,000 times on Facebook. Over 80,000 times others are being exposed to this message. 80,000 times influential women, as young as 8, are exposed to messages crafting their perception of what a women truly is.
So, the next time you decide to post something that puts down the efforts of an entire movement of people devoted to giving women more respect and opportunity, think twice about it. It is 2015 and we still live in a world where large clothing companies, like Bloomingdales, create ads that promote nonconsensual sex. Having a vagina doesn’t make you unique, it makes you a gender. Your passions, talents, and personality are what make you unique.