Monday, February 26, 2007

“The Girls Next Door” and its Social Influences

In the reality show “Girls Next Door” the media uses the Playboy playmates as a perfect way to depict society’s stereotypes and inferential sexism. Not only is it a derogative show towards women but it condones other societal problems as well. From disregarding emerging anorexia to the overt representation of inferiority, it all seems to be available for you in this one reality T.V. show.

One of the first issues with this show is the portrayal of women in explicit sexual manner when women around the world are told to be meek and inferior. It is one thing to tell these playmates to fight for their rights and do what they want and another thing to put them into a position where freedom leads to their own weakness and ultimately being called a “slut”. In reality, who is going to take these women seriously after this show is over? All they are going to be judges as is inappropriate and blatantly sexual, which leads into my next point.

Why is it that all women must be put into two categories when portrayed through media, either the vixen or the homemaker? In a way, this T.V. show does both by not only placing these women in a position where they are completely dependant upon Hugh and his enterprise but they have to degrade themselves, whether they think they are or not, society does, in the process of becoming this sort of twisted homemaker.

It is also quite obvious that this show illustrates male dominance and all that comes with it. It kind of reminds of me of harems from ancient times where the man is surrounded by his beautiful women. In all seriousness though, Hugh is in his 80’s and he still has twenty year olds on his arms, and in his bed? Tell me what the likelihood of that would be if the roles were reversed.

Not only does this reality series have issues with female prejudices but it also creates a subgroup of prejudices as well. It creates the idea that all blonde bombshells are dumb and will act in such a way, and there are many out there who suffer from this. Not only that, but the complimentary group suffers as well. Women without perfect bodies and maybe even a darker tint of hair are seen as unattractive and perhaps ugly.

There are also other gender associated societal problems involved as well. In the episode shown in class, one of the playmates was “dieting” and fed herself raw vegetables for dinner. She also associated this act of starving herself with trying to be healthy when it was clearly the opposite. This will have serious influences on teenage girls, because surprising as it is one must doubt Hugh or any other male character will ever be viewed dieting, who are engaging in far riskier health behavior in greater numbers than any prior generation (Kilbourne, 259). This reinforces the idea that “the glossy images of flawlessly beautiful and extremely thin women that surround us would not have the impact they do if we did not live in a culture that encourages us to believe we can and should remake our bodies into perfect commodities” (Kilbourne, 260).

In the end, all of these problems would mean nothing if there were not a clear predicament that they caused. Unfortunately, there is a mass crisis involved with these prejudices and stereotypes portrayed. They influence today’s generation and generations to come and everyday more and more minds consume the ideas that come with them. Who is going to tell Mary that it is ok to be average weight? Who is going to stop Jenna from wearing provocative clothing, why can’t she wear it, they did? Is it fair that Erica will grow up in a world where she is labeled dumb just because she is blonde? The truth is, there is an entire world of women, all ages, and sizes being manipulated with the labels and associations that come with this reality series and many others. The only way to eliminate, or at least lessen the sexism that is existent in the world is to eradicate any such means that produce it.

Kilbourne, Jean. "The More You Subtract, The More You Add". Dines, Gail. Gender, Race, and Class In Media. Sage Publications, Inc. Thousand Oaks, California. 2003.


Dennis Smith said...

Hi Katelyn! Nice blog! Good luck with your prof's Big-Blog experiment!

I think you already have a good touch with the layout and format of your posts....nice white space! It really does make it easier to read - and when it's easier to read, people read more!

You also might want to consider throwing a shorter post out there in between long posts. It's something fresh and new that over-worked and time-constrained blog readers can review without taking too much time.

Good luck!

Jessie said...

Overall a good job w/ the post. You may be overstating the case a bit when you claim that the show is produced to perpetuate gender norms and stereotypes--it's on E! for the purposes of making money--so why is it that it's so successful? Is the show that tells the fictional girls that you mention at the end of the post going to be successful and profitable? Are the 3 girls complete victims? You've made a number of very important points here, but you need to get more into the analysis of the context of your points in relation to the successful TV show from which you found them. I get the sense that the piece starts getting strained by too many rhetorical questions posed at the beginning of paragraphs. Try outlining your next assignment using these types of questions, but instead of including them in the finished post, use them to dissect what is at play in these questions and how they relate to the dissemination of information regarding gender norms via popular culture's many forms. Also, the personalization of the problem using the fictional girls at the end and the "saving" vocabulary (in reference to the 3 women on the show) seems to detract from the analysis of the show as a cultural product and part of a much larger system--the system is the focus of the assignment...the individuals aren't to blame for the production of culture (even if they're a part of it)...consider the reading that argues that it's both the system and the people who perpetuate the messages in a society...