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Published:April 25th, 2012 15:50 EST
To Serve Man: Women in media

To Serve Man: Women in media

By Sean Stubblefield

Consciously and unconsciously, the portrayal of women in media influences our perception of- and perspective on- women.

Have you noticed the way women are frequently depicted in media? I mean, REALLY noticed?

Look at how women are presented in advertisements, in commercials, in comic books.

What image or impression of women are we exposing ourselves to? How are we teaching ourselves to regard and treat women through our media?

Unlike men, women are often portrayed in s[e]xually suggestive and submissive poses, wearing s[e]xually revealing clothes.

Think about what subliminal message this imagery tells men about women. Think about what this imagery tells women about themselves, and each other.

What does this imagery tell men about men, and what does it tell women about men?

Such portrayals are mutually demeaning for both genders.

Because by framing women in this s[e]xualized and s[e]xually seductive context, women reside within the purview of the male gaze. Essentially, women are depicted as serving the sexual desires of heterosexual men. It says that women exist to serve these men, that our society is determined by men, and designed to service men. You may even classify this as a form of passive gender bullying.

Why do most women look and dress the way they do? Why do they wear makeup and bras and style their hair? Why do so many of them worry so much about body image?

Is it to appeal to men?

Way too often, women are relegated to support personnel for male characters. Overwhelmingly, males tend to be the main stars, the heroes, the leaders in position of authority and power.

A common misconception about movies with female leads is that those movies are inevitably and innately doomed to fail.

Exceptions to this rule are sadly few.

Except for romantic comedies or dramas, women apparently cannot carry a film. Consider the dismal selection of female lead action movies we`ve been given: Tomb Raider, Catwoman, Elektra, Wanted, Resident Evil, Underworld,Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li, Columbiana, Bloodrayne, Aeon Flux, Charlie`s Angels.

But those films are not bad because the lead actors are female. Those films are bad because they are bad.

Not even a male lead could salvage those movies. I will be so bold as to say they were sabotaged, set up to fail. As if to prove that women cannot have lead roles in action movies.

And what about women of color? By which I mean, non-white women? Where are they in our stories? How often do they get to be the star? The Hero?