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Sexism for sale: The gendered parts of culture we forget

HenaginOpinionIf any of you niblets remember my article from last semester, the one where I talk about hating horror, you’ll know that my threshold for imaginary fear is quite low. You’ll know that not only is there a problem of watching a scary thing, but my imagination is quite vivid and never lets me forget said scary thing. Knowing all of that, you would be proud to know that I finished, not one, but two whole seasons of American Horror Story.

The nightmares haven’t started, but all of the lights are on in the apartment as I type this just to avoid the creepy-crawlies. I don’t know if any of my other streaming-addicted friends can say this, but the biggest reason for this switch was because I wasn’t exactly a fan of what was being shoved in my face a majority of the time on TV. Reality TV makes me upset, commercials annoy the daylights out of me and waiting for TV isn’t exactly my strongest suit.

What I also could share with you is that I have problems with not only the content, but many of the messages that are present in the average TV session. After sitting and watching TV for an hour, I counted more than 17 gendered commercials. Commercials geared toward small girls and boys separating what they should play with, commercials that target adult women with gendered looks, gender binary commercials denying the presence of individuals that are in the non-binary and commercials targeting adult males with idealized male models.

We see this advertising continuously and have no qualms. It isn’t difficult to turn our critical thoughts off, in fact, most of us do it all day every day. That isn’t abnormal, but once you start seeing the problems, they can’t be unseen. This shatters the illusion, if you will, of “target audiences.” Commercials use angles that are easily digested and easily reinforced by society’s perceptions of how people are supposed to be.

This last weekend, if any of you are avid Reddit users, a photo surfaced of a young girl’s letter who was upset at the company LEGO. Her letter included earnest questions about why there was suddenly a girls line of LEGOs including girls who didn’t “go on adventures” like their male counterparts in the “normal LEGOs.” The girls who wrote the letter was seven years old, but she was asking questions that most adults don’t have “real” answers to other than referring to “the way it has always been done.”

Moving away from children’s toys (which I could talk about for days), I also noticed a significant amount of wedding commercials that not only reinforced heteronormativity, (the idea that hetero couples are normal and the standard) but featured little stick figures in tuxes and dresses, featured very pretty, white, straight couples. Weddings happen all over the world with way more people than are represented in this narrow scope of advertising.

But Disney had a gay couple on a show! But Macklemore sang “Same Love!” But, but, but, but, nothing. As consumers, we are not only receiving this material, but by not taking control of what we consume, we are not doing anyone any good. If seven-year-old Charlotte can express her feelings in a well-written letter, I think there has to be something we can do. With our generation being born into social media, we have a grasp on what we can do to companies to be noticed. Twitter hacks, Facebook posts, now if we are disgruntled customers we can literally let the world know, which is why there are social media jobs in the first place. While some of you may disregard this whole article as a feminist waving her flag, the others I hope will be critical of the mass information we are seeing and feel compelled to say something to someone. Anyone will do, so long as they keep talking.


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