Today’s review isn’t about a particular creation of media; it’s about helping to shine a light on a particular issue in media that gets more and more obvious and infuriating the more aware of it I become: how women are treated.
To those who may be triggered by something in this topic: I do not talk about specific examples or cases to illustrate my point. However at one point I do list, in general terms, some of the various forms of violence — physical and non — against women commonly shown in media. Read or not as needed to take care of YOU, and know that my best wishes are with you.
First, I want to acknowledge that there are a LOT of problems with how a LOT of people are treated in media. NONE of those things are okay.
I’m not in a position to talk about ethnicity imbalance, because I’m white and therefore have white privilege. I see things through that lens, no matter how much I might try not to and might try to be aware. I acknowledge that. While I am queer and am genderqueer, I am not usually treated as such. I have the luxury of passing as straight and female when I don’t speak up and correct the assumptions others make. I acknowledge that, too. And I acknowledge that I tend to pass as middle-class, regardless of my actual income bracket (pretty much always broke).
There is one thing I do NOT have: male privilege. This is a thing I’ve never had. I was raised female, and I present as gender neutral or female, so I’m assumed female.
I live in a male-centric society. I was raised in America, though my media consumption is not and has never been in any way limited to my country of origin. As I got older, I became more educated about exactly what the underpinnings of that patriarchy meant: rape culture.
I began to see the problems. I began to see how even my upbringing — which was relatively sheltered from cultural messages and influence — had still left me programed with certain behaviors, thought patterns, acceptances, and assumptions. Even someone with limited media consumption (apart from books), no public schooling, lots of positive messages, and a strong sense of equal rights had still come out of it damaged.
My group of internet friends are quite vigilant in their media consumption to call out the problems and issues they see even in the most beloved of things. I love them for this, because I know what they do has made me become more aware, more outraged. It’s a problem we SHOULD and NEED to be outraged about.
All forms of media — movies, TV, books — are constantly depicting violence against woman. It takes so many forms that we don’t always recognize it anymore, but that doesn’t make it any less damaging.
How many times have you seen women in danger, women in fear, women being tortured or beaten or raped, women being intimidated, women being silenced, women being attacked, women being treated as objects or property, women being shamed, women being blamed for being wrong or mistaken or a victim, women being told they’re crazy or unstable or too emotional, and on and on and on, over and over and over, often repeatedly to the same main or secondary characters.
How many times has this happened to the male characters, and how was it treated differently in the way it was depicted?
How many times could the same stories have been told without those images or events, without this inhuman treatment of half the world population?
It is sickening. Literally, it is a sickness. Our culture, our societies, our minds and what we think is normal, gets warped and damaged by seeing it again and again, without mainstream protest, without mass awareness.
It is an illness, and we need to cure it.
We HAVE to start speaking out, calling out creators and perpetrators, demanding awareness and change. We have to stand up for one another and support one another, because no one else is going to. Most of these people don’t even seem to realize there’s a problem, or that they’re contributing to it. As long as it’s accepted as “normal” and “entertainment”, it’s not going to change.
Those of us who can speak out, must.
Those of us who can protest, must.
Those of us who can record each count of injustice and inhumanity to show the proof and raise awareness in others, must.
Those of us who can create better ways to tell the stories, must.
Those of us who can only silently cheer and weep as the fight goes on, it’s okay. We’re doing this so that one day, you too can have your voice. Know that you are loved and supported, even by those who don’t know you and never will.
So many people have been victims of this sickness. All of us are damaged. People of all genders are effected by the messages in media. It’s hurting all of us. We need to cut out this infection, and start to heal.