Posted by: elizabethjoseph13 | March 17, 2016

Women in the News

Miss Representation has gotten me thinking a LOT about women’s portrayal in the media. I had always had a problem with it but since starting this class, I’ve become hyper-aware of all gender stereotypes and issues this country has with over-sexualizing women, and men. In particular, I was very bothered by Katie Couric’s comment about her worrying whether she was showing too much leg while wearing a skirt that went past her knees. From all the clips that were in the film, it appeared she was very professional in both her dress and her demeanor and that is what makes her a leader. She is able to show that a woman can be a professional and not just something pretty to look at. She showed that women can and should be taken seriously and are able to be reporters. The amount of women I’ve noticed on the news that are basically models is insane! And the pressure and standards our society sets for women in the spotlight, even if it is a small spotlight, is absolutely ridiculous.

What makes things even worse, is that even among our generation of activists, it is still prevalent and being continued. To illustrate, I have a personal story. Last year, one of my friends told me she wanted to be a sportscaster. She is very passionate about sports and is very talkative and knowledgeable so it is something she would be very good at. I was telling one of my other friends that that is what she wanted to do and he looked at me and said, “I don’t think she would be very good, she isn’t really pretty enough.” I WAS SHOCKED!!! I started not-so-calmly telling him that appearance shouldn’t matter and she will do a great job because it is something she is passionate about and she will enjoy doing. He kept trying to defend his point and we aren’t friends anymore (not just because of this but it certainly didn’t help).

What this society needs is more women leaders like Katie Couric showing girls that you don’t have to show 98% of your body to be successful in the media. If women, and the rest of society it appears, are able to see other successful women hopefully it will show that we CAN be successful and we CAN and we DO have to ability to do anything and everything men can do without having to sexualize it.

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Responses

  1. I was also very shocked by the comment Katie made about her appearance! It’s interesting that in retrospect she thought about whether or not it was appropriate or not. I think that’s what having conversations like this does. This type of treatment has become our new normal and it’s so easy for us to talk about it. Then, when we actually think about stories or our own actions we begin to question everything about our decisions, even when they made perfect sense. I too was interested in newscasting for awhile, particularly after my involvement in high school mass communication. It never occurred to me that I might be questioned about my pursuit of that. One of my role models in sports journalism is Erin Andrews. I think it’s important that as the future generation of adults in the real world that we work to not only break this for ourselves but also for future generations of girls and boys…to help them learn that success is not driven by looks, but character and how a person carries themselves in the workplace.

  2. I think that what struck me as most surprising and upsetting was Katie’s reaction to these jabs about ‘showing too much leg’.
    It broke my heart that she feels like she may have played a part in the current sexualization of news casters.
    She said that she worries that she may be responsible for this expectation of sexy newscasters because of her wearing a short (but what looked pretty normal to me) skirt.
    As an extremely successful newscaster, Katie does not talk about how proud she is or how she did present herself in a professional manner, she talks about how she may actually have been wearing too short of a skirt. Instead of celebrating her success and respect, she places the blame on herself for society’s twisted view of newscasters which is something entirely out of her control.

  3. As a feminist, I often struggle between asserting that women should be able to do the same things as men do without making them sexual, and preaching that women should be able to own their personal sexuality without being shamed. But of course, it all comes back to intent. What kind of message are you trying to send? Are you TRYING to embrace your sexuality, or are you just trying to report the poll numbers like every other male newscaster on television? Watching Miss Representation and reading this post gave me a nice reminder of that!

  4. Like you, I too have become more self-aware of the challenges that women face because of the way media portrays them. Before taking this class I definitely had noticed that women were hyper-sexualized/hyper-feminized within the media, especially on television, but honestly hadn’t categorized it as so. I used to think that these women chose to dress a particular way to be presentable or to feel pretty and or even to validate their own self-worth. I never saw it as a social pressure, at least not consciously.

    The comment about Katie Couric, although totally has validity, I took a totally different way. Personally, I thought she was thinking more about modesty than she was about be sexually objectified and that necessarily isn’t a bad thing. I agree that acting professional is important, but professional dress in a professional context matters as well. Social standards, especially in regard to appearance, are a little tougher on females, at least that is what I believe, but that being said, if one is in the spotlight or is a leader per se, than he or she should be held to higher standards of decency, clothing included.

    I would like to comment of your comment about passion. You noted that if someone is passionate enough about something, they will absolutely have success in it. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. I love art, I think it’s beautiful, but I can’t paint and I don’t have steady hands, therefore I can’t be an artist. In a lot of different walks of life, passion just isn’t enough. You can love something so much but not be any good at it. It’s a fact. But hey, if your friend wants something than they should go for it. I’m not commenting on your story really, just pointing out that you have to be a lot more than passionate to be a leader in a particular industry, especially if you are a woman trying to get into a male-dominated industry.

  5. It is interesting to me how much we have transitioned to a “reality tv” culture. One cannot simply have the skills necessary to complete a job, you also have to “look the part.” What does that say about our priorities and values as a culture? There has to come a point when we are fed up with this. A time when we get back to the real issues at hand. I don’t know what it will take in order to spark a wake up call in which we realize there are more important issues to discuss. Let’s stop talking about what female newscasters are wearing and start focusing on the news she is talking about.

  6. I agree that it was shocking to hear Katie talk about the length of her skirt in such a way. It was even more shocking to hear her place blame upon herself that the women in news casting may have so much scrutiny because of her. Katie broke many molds and was a trendsetter to many people, both men and women alike. In retrospect she acknowledges that she may have dressed outside of her personal style and what she felt comfortable wearing because she wanted to attract her audience. This is somewhat appalling to realize that she could only catch attention from the audience based on her outfit and appearance and not for what she was trying to do in he career. Although, to be fair, everything they showed Katie wearing seemed appropriate to me and did not “show too much leg”. I think she should not blame herself for the standards placed on female newscasters but instead the blame should be placed on the media who glamorize women to make them appear to be sexual objects that are there simply for male pleasure. Once the media can recognize women are not sex objects and that they have true contributions to make to the world then equality may finally begin to appear in reality.

  7. I think some of what Katie expressed is from what others have told her. Maybe she didn’t think at the time that it was too short until someone had a negative opinion about it and told her it was too short. The clips that followed did talk about the dresses women wore and that is a bias. Sadly this can be seen in all parts of media. Women are asked what they are wearing and who was the designer. I would really like to see men asked the same question. I think we should call the media out for the sexism and their bias.


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