Is The Patriarchy Forcing The Media To Place Too Much Emphasis On Women’s Looks?

Is The Patriarchy Forcing The Media To Place Too Much Emphasis On Women’s Looks?

Gavin Newsom’s wife is doing another tedious documentary called Miss Representation about how tough women have it.

There was a fluff piece about the documentary in the Daily Beast called “Does the Media Hate Women?” and here’s the small part in the article that stood out for me.

Juxtaposing images of cat-fighting reality television stars with women’s-rights leaders; lip-plumped Housewives with “in” political leaders–and peppered with powerful interviews with Condoleezza Rice, Katie Couric, Nancy Pelosi, Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, and a dozen other women–Miss Representation makes the case clear: “We are teaching young women that their worth lies in their youth, their beauty and their sexuality,” says Newsom. “Not in their capacity to lead.” Ultimately, she says, the gap between women in media and women in real life is huge, and growing.

…(Newsom) thought about how all of this is controlled, ultimately, by a media industry where women own just 6 percent of commercial broadcast stations and hold fewer than a third of top news jobs.

If you want to complain about how the media treats women, you have grounds to do it….of course, who doesn’t have grounds? Certainly men do. Every time I see some commercial or TV show where a hapless beta male is ordered around or demeaned by his wife, I want to vomit. You think conservatives are treated respectfully or fairly be the media? Christians? It just goes on and on.

Let me also add that the vicious criticism of women’s looks and distorted body images that appear in the media aren’t good for society. These magazines that put super models on the cover and then photoshop the hell out of them and these gossip mags that mercilessly criticize starlets for having knee wrinkles or being five pounds overweight aren’t exactly helping to create healthy body images for women.

That being said, the reason that, “We are teaching young women that their worth lies in their youth, their beauty and their sexuality,” is because that’s an all too real reflection of what the world is like. I mean, even out of the examples of powerful women that were used in the interview, at a minimum, Jane Fonda and Katie Couric wouldn’t have had careers if they weren’t attractive. Certainly that’s not the only thing they had going for them, but it’s still worth noting their looks were a prerequisite for being successful in their chosen fields.

You don’t think so? Then think about the answers to these questions.

Who would the average man rather go out with: a gorgeous woman who’s a waitress or an average looking woman who’s a state senator? Who has a better shot of getting a guest spot on a Fox News show tomorrow: an attractive conservative woman or a man who’s just as talented and accomplished? Hollywood producers can cast anyone they want as a featured actress: Do they pick beautiful women or average looking women? Even successful female SINGERS tend to be extremely attractive (And, yes, Susan Boyle is the exception that proves the rule). And it’s not just men — look at the covers of women’s magazines: Are the women on there attractive or not?

This is the title character from the TV show, “Ugly Betty.” What does that tell you about our society?

Is that shallow? Sure, but that’s life — and in many ways, it’s unfair to men. I mean, the equivalent of a supermodel on the male side is probably a CEO. He worked 70 hours a week for 20 years, was extremely successful in an incredibly competitive field, and became rich. She had good genetics, ate a lot of salads, and went to the gym a lot — yet they’re on the same basic level. Meanwhile, painfully, that same male CEO would probably rather date a really hot maid who just wants to take care of him rather than his female equivalent, who also worked 70 hours a week for 20 years to claw her way to the top of the mountain. That’s not sexism or some male plot against women; it’s human nature.

Of course, women are much more than their looks, just as men are a lot more than their wallets and the number of other men they can order around…but, there’s a lot more biology at work with human beings than we like to admit. Men say that it’s what’s inside that matters — and they believe it when they say it. Women say that they just want a nice, funny guy — and they believe it when they say it. But, then look at whom people date and 9 times out of 10, the man dates the most attractive woman he can find while the woman dates the richest, most powerful, most famous guy she thinks she can land. It’s kind of like “buying American.” Everybody says they want to buy American and they mean it when they say it. But in practice, people go to Wal-Mart and come home with a shopping cart full of stuff that’s made in China because it’s cheaper.

It even applies to Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the woman behind Miss Representation.

She’s drop dead gorgeous — and she’s married to the mayor of San Francisco. I don’t think she married Gavin Newsom just because he’s a millionaire who’s the mayor of San Francisco, just like I’m sure he didn’t marry her just because she’s a 10 on a 10 scale. But, if he were an auto mechanic who lived in a trailer or she were, say an 8 on a 10 scale, would they be married today?

If you want to say that you don’t know the answer to that question, you’re fooling yourself.

Let me emphasize that I do not think that all of women’s “worth lies in their youth, their beauty and their sexuality.” Certainly, it had better not all lie there. After all, everybody eventually gets old and their looks start to slide. That’s not a pleasant prospect if all you have is “youth,” “beauty,” and “sexuality”. That’s why, male or female, you better bring more than that to the table. But, that being said, it’s irritating for people to continue to feign ignorance about this subject and pretend it’s some terrible burden women have to bear. It’s just life. A woman’s worthiness tends to be judged on her looks and men’s worthiness tends to be based on money, power, and fame. If people take a deeper look at you than that, it’s probably because they had a chance to get to know you. If that ever really changes, the way the media covers it will change, with or without any documentaries being made about the subject.

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