November 25, 2008

Men, the Media & Sexism

by Zack Huhn

You always hear complaints about how women have to deal with the stereotypical media roles that degrade how women are portrayed in society. Let’s discuss how men have to deal with the SAME stereotypes. Get over it — media glamorize being beautiful and powerful or important, regardless of sex. Many times, men often play one of a few stereotypical roles in media, which if the same reaction is taken to this as women, means they are expected to always act that way in everyday life. Be it the jock or the class clown, the superstar athlete or brave hero, this is obviously an impossible reality for almost any man to live up to. Be honest, how many shirtless, hairless, toned, athletic, tall, tan, intelligent, funny, interesting and entertaining male supermodels do you see walking around campus at American University every day? This nearly unattainable image affects men just as much, if not more than women; it affects our relationship opportunities, job opportunities, social circles and more. Men have to wonder: am I masculine enough, well enough dressed, tall enough, thin enough, muscular enough, athletic enough, smart enough, wealthy enough, funny enough, interesting enough, strong enough, caring enough, powerful enough — just like women. Are my teeth as white and straight as the guy in the commercial? Is my car as nice as his? Will people notice that my skin is slightly less than perfect? I work out, but I still have a little work to do. Will people understand? When we see images of women in swimsuits or underwear, we criticize. When we see images of men in swimwear or underwear, we don’t think twice. It’s ironic; the very girls complaining about the stereotypes they have to deal with are the same girls watching Gossip Girl and The Hills, reading Us Weekly and Cosmopolitan. Don’t get me wrong, I love that these shows encourage us to dress well and be hygienic. I’m not complaining about the images they portray, nor am saying one is wrong to complain; but we have to understand that men face the same media bias as women, and if people want to make a change, they have to stop supporting what they claim to be against through buying into the industry!

(The photo is from the Europa BSN Model Search competition in Irving, Texas from 2007; the photo is by SSCusp of Vancouver, WA via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license.)

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