Gender representation in media
Gender representation has always been one step forward two steps back. Recently we're seeing a shift. Let's keep up the momentum.
I am taught from birth to anticipate marriage. We learn from a very age that our purpose in life as women is to become wives and mothers and take care of our family. For those that appeals to, I think it's a beautiful thing. I look at my best friend who is entirely more selfless than I am. Her wants in life are a family and to care for people. I'm different. Right now my goals are more career oriented and still somehow I end up in relationship after relationship where as though some switch goes on in my head, I go into perfect housekeeper mode, making cookies, sending care packages, and more. It's not like these things are bad or negative. I do happen to love caring for others but men are not taught to reciprocate.
These flaws are structural and date way back. See, as women, we are watching sitcoms where women play overworked wives and mothers and play with baby dolls and kitchen sets. For the last ten years in popular media, women have been limited to certain types of roles. Rarely do we carry the plot and so often are our arcs reliant on the much more exciting arc of our boyfriend, husband, or love interest. This limits women. Though there are women who have broken glass ceilings for the rest of us, it's hard for the masses to see all of the opportunities available for us. In the same way, employers have a harder time envisioning a woman being successful at a position traditionally filled by men and often represented in media as a "man's job."
In addition to stunting occupational opportunities, the misrepresentation of women in media also misrepresents female sexuality. In popular culture, women who are sexually expressive are commonly villainized or sl*t shamed. This has a direct correlation to how women are treated in society. In media sexual activeness with women seems to only be ok when the woman refuses but falls for the handsome seducer. As a result, we are taught that enjoying sex is shameful and then we're shamed again for not being adventurous enough in bed. There is a misrepresentation, that sex for woman only serves the purpose of pleasing the man, when a healthy sexual relationship is equal.
In the past two years, we've seen advancements in representation of women in media. Orange is The New Black is a great example of a show that doesn't stifle women's sexuality. Shows like Supergirl and Girl Boss show that women are capable of saving the world and running their own company; however, we still have a long way to go. Case in point: Girl Boss was just cancelled by Netflix. This is both on the company for not sustaining a female lead show to see how it does as time changes but also on the consumer who didn't consume the show lead by women because it's something new and different. Different can be unsettling sometimes, but if we want society to progress, we absolutely need our media to progress as well. No matter how many times your parents told you not to copy what you see on TV, humans are imitators and society often reflects the media.