As you are reading this, I am cancelling my family’s subscription to Cable Television. I am taking control of the amount of time my kids sit in front of the television set, the kind of shows they watch, and of my family’s precious money and time. Time Warner will no longer force me to pay hundreds of dollars a month only to be inundated with sexist commercials, biased news, banal reality TV shows that reek of immorality and gratuitous images of violence and sex. Since blogging primarily about consumerism and how gender is presented on television shows, I have become even more aware of the degenerate portrayals of women and girls by every media venue, including the news. I will no longer sit by and watch as my children’s identities are formed and conditioned by superficial, sexist, and egotistical members of the media, filling their pockets with my money as they fill my home with propaganda, debasement, and bigotry. I am silencing the voices that enter my home and collide with the kind of values that I want my children to be raised with. I am boycotting television and cable for the following reasons, and I hope that it becomes a common thread among women and parents everywhere. The only way advertising companies, owners of networks as well as producers and writers of commercials, television, news, and movies will cease their attack on our homes, our sex, our children’s identities, and our intelligence will occur when we turn them off and stop paying our hard-earned money just to listen to their lies, deceit, hypocrisy, and self-important rhetoric.
Commercials: Do you ever notice how much longer the commercials are compared to the show you’re actually tuning in to watch? I counted once or twice and discovered that my show aired for four minutes vs. ten minutes of commercials. And what commercials am I forced to endure? Sexist commercials that tell me my fungus-infested mop is in tears and will miss me because I’ve switched to Swiffer Jet. Commercials that show me skinny and beautiful Goddesses in their forties running around or doing crafts with their three kids, somehow managing to look hot, happy, wrinkle and fat-free — which just so happens to be the opposite of how I look after a day of mothering. I am ridiculed for my impatience and high standards when the mom on TV laughs cheerfully as she wipes the mess her husband and kids make when they spill soda or sauce all over the kitchen counter or floor. Not to mention that my place, according to these commercials, is within the confines of the domestic — either in the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, or the supermarket. And this is just me.
My kids are told what kind of toys they should play with according to their gender. Dolls that pee and poo after you feed them, puppies that need to be combed and walked, Princesses and Barbies that define how girls should look — perfect, sexy, beautiful and skinny — define girlhood and womanhood for my daughter. My son is told to be adventurous, aggressive, and ambitious by playing with toys that don’t need to be nurtured — toys that require force and assertive behavior. He’s also told how to treat girls and women — when he is older. Portraits of hot, skinny, and dolled up females who treat him well in bed and then manage to cook for him and pick up after him define the kind of women he will be looking for and marrying as well as how he will be treating them.
My husband is told that he is nothing if he doesn’t drive the right car, have the right job, drink the right beer, or have a hot babe clinging to his arms.
News: I’m not much for the news — I have always believed that stories are told from the perspective of the storyteller — and my background in research has taught me that polls and statistics and surveys are manipulated and skewed to support the researcher’s hypothesis. When my students start throwing out stats to me — I spend a great deal of time instructing them about research, findings, and biased results. It’s all a game — a numbers game — a name dropping game — and the sooner we all understand this, the better off we will be, and they will have to shut up.
Recently, because I have been focusing my Thursday’s blog content on media and gender, and because I have come across great women’s sites like The New Agenda, I have come to see that political correctness exists for everyone except women. For the first time, I listen to what news reporters like Chris Matthews say on their shows, and I am appalled. I have become acutely aware of how political figures like Sarah Palin are reduced to bad mothers, witches, hags and nags, and other more colorful epithets that are only allowed to be spewed at members of the female sex. And if you don’t like Palin, and are rolling your eyes at the mention of her name, then consider Hillary Clinton. So many male news reporters referred to her as having the kind of face and nagging expressions they wouldn’t want to come home to if she was their wife. How is it that there’s so much PC out there for everyone except women? How is it that a woman vying for political office can so easily — and without protest or admonishment — be reduced to and critiqued as a wife, a mother, and her looks? This is sexist rhetoric and rigid lines need to be drawn. News reporters and journalists need to be vilified for their sexist comments and their bigotry — and women need to stand up and say, “No More.” By losing viewers, they lose money, and their voices — full of hate and bias — are no longer heard. Then they will change their ways and become more respectful towards the women that gave birth to them, married them, and gave birth to their children. How do they go home and face their wives? How do they face their daughters?
Reality TV — Reality television shows have taken over and bring us down. When we watch The Bachelor, we passively witness women selling themselves to one man — competing for one man — a race of sex and stupidity — for one man. People tune in to watch, and laugh at, Jersey Shore‘s young “stars” as they drink themselves to oblivion and have sex with one another in public. The Housewives of NJ/NY/Atlanta portray ridiculous women who marry money, have no self-respect, and behave like idiots. Wife Swap demonstrates the fact that women are interchangeable and expendable — why do the women have to swap places? They have to enter the threshold of a new home, assume the wife and mother roles of another woman — and this is OK with everyone? Teen Moms is a show that tells our teen aged daughters that it’s OK to get pregnant — they can have a baby, still have friends and a social life, and heck, if it doesn’t work out, they can just give it up for adoption. Is this what we want our girls to watch? Our boys?
And I cannot believe that Toddlers and Tiaras is even allowed to be on the air.
In the early 1900′s we established laws to protect our children. Today child services calls your home if you do not clothe and feed your child properly, and yet we allow the dregs of society to exploit their beautiful little girls on air — for money — dressing their three and four-year-olds in Madonna-style cone-cupped dresses that protrude from their childish chests, five pounds of make-up making them look like living dolls — applauding as their little bodies grind and bump and shimmy like strippers. We tune in to these shows because they are ridiculous, we tell ourselves. They make us laugh — we’re just making fun of them — but when we tune in, we keep them going. We feed them, we give them license to continue, we tell them it’s OK to act like this, and we make them rich. We tell network owners that we will keep on watching just to see what else these crazies do, and they will ask their producers to make more shows like this; and to keep their jobs and their salaries, they will come up with more insane ideas, find more uncouth, self-serving and degenerate members of society to exploit themselves and their loved ones for money and short-lived fame. And we’re partly to blame.
Kids’ Shows: Aside from some good television shows like Noggin, PBS, and Discovery Channel, (you may know of some more, but in comparison to what I’m focusing on, there’s not much out there), everything else is ridiculous. Drowned in gender-based and consumer-conditioned commercials, my son can’t even watch Nick Jr or Nickelodeon without being forced to consume violent cartoons, teenagers making out, and even guest appearances by renowned gang member and drug dealer gone misogynistic rapper, Snoop Dogg, dressed as Santa Claus — his intent on selling his new album, which is full of raps about sexist attitudes towards girls, drugs, women, sex — not what middle school and high school kids should be listening to. What clean and appropriate shows are out there for boys and girls that don’t reinforce sex, fame, drugs, money, and living without parental controls? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids are exposed to daily doses of 60% of sexual images and 53% of violence — and this poll was taken in 2004.
Music Videos: It happens to me that when I listen to a song and I really love it, I have to check out the video – and I am always in shock. For instance Rihanna’s new song “only Girl” sounded perfect — her voice is sweet and soul-reaching — but her video is plain and simple and sleazy as she makes “sex” at the camera. She’s out in the country dressed in a bathing suit style outfit that make her breasts stick out and shows off her long legs — in high heels, of course. She’s slithering on the ground like she’s having sex — and this runs for about nine minutes of her song.
The trend in videos is that if the artist is a guy — he doesn’t have to do anything but sing his song — but in the background there is always a woman — and it’s all about her sex. If the artist is a woman, then she has to be the singer and she has to sex it up for the camera and her viewers. Do I really want to watch that? Do I want my son to see images of the sexualized woman — to think that this is how women should be portrayed and represented — objects that function to fulfill his desires and needs — to feed his senses with her sensuality? And my daughter — do I want her to look at these objectified images of girls and be conditioned to believe that she needs to dress like this, behave like this — to get what she wants? People tell me all the time, “sex sells, Marina. It’s how it is — it will never change.” And I’m supposed to lie down and take that? No. I never bought into it and I most certainly don’t want my daughter to think that if she wants fame, money, promotions at work, or even her girlfriends or boyfriends to like her, that she has to sex it up for them.
No thanks! No thanks television, reality TV, commercials, or music videos. No thanks Snoop Dogg, Rihanna, or reality TV “stars” from Joyzie, Atlanta, or anywhere else. And no thanks to the creators, network owners, news reporters, or enslaved producers for the smut they provide to the masses. And a final no thanks to Times Warner Cable and its owners who take my money month after month just to introduce me and my family to vapid entertainment and inundate us with stereotypical commercials. No thanks, and Good-bye.
Copyright© 2011 by Marina Delvecchio. All Rights Reserved.