Because it’s so much easier (not to mention more entertaining) to make New Year’s resolutions for other people, Media Action* has crafted a wish list out of ten trends that we’re hoping to encourage our friends in the media and marketing industries to consider embracing in 2012.
That manufacturers and retailers abandon the making, advertising or selling of push-up bras, slutty t-shirts or crotchless underwear for little girls. (In the words of Amanda Parriag, Media Action’s new president, “My daughter and son aren’t old enough to floss their teeth unsupervised, but already they’re getting the message — from music TV, video games and the internet — that boys grow up to be movers and shakers, while girls grow up to be shimmiers and shavers.”)
That media coverage of women’s professional sports is increased from its current 1.6% (pathetic afterthought) to at least 10% (but televising the Lingerie Football League doesn’t count.) And that the female athletes involved aren’t pressured to compete while wearing bar clothes or bikinis. (Because, when you think about it, how many major league ball players would agree to dress like Chippendales? Just asking.)
That car makers remember the lessons they learned in the 1990s (hint: women direct or influence the purchase decisions behind 80% of cars sold – and yes, we did see that ad in which the emergency medical attendant and husband of the woman on the verge of giving birth were more concerned with the technological features of the new Passat than with the dilating, contracting woman in need of help. Thankfully, the ad was pulled due to complaints.)
That the geniuses who produce Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives give up shooting fish in a barrel and do the world a favour: trade in the constructed scenarios that reward desperate opportunists for drunken behaviour and pre-scripted catfights, and instead apply their talents to developing entertaining TV shows that celebrate women’s capacity to create and contribute.
That fashion photographers stop glamourizing violence against women by taking photos of female models who appear to have been beaten, thrown down the stairs or stuffed into a garbage can, and passing them off as “artistic”. (We can even suggest a helpful resource that makes the point in pictures: cue hilarious video “Poses” by Yolanda Dominguez.)
That members of the multi-billion-dollar beauty industry just say “no” to invasive Photoshopping (which now extends to grafting models’ heads onto virtual female bodies ), and take responsibility for their part in perpetuating rampant body image issues among women and girls.
That journalists reporting on female politicians and candidates refrain from referring to their hair, clothing and personal relationship status, and avoid classic stereotypes (assertive man = decisive leader; assertive woman = shrill bitch) to focus more on their experience, capacity and proposed policies. (Because if we selected all politicians on the basis of the criteria often applied to women, we might end up with that guy from the Twilight series as Prime Minister…).
That school boards and parents everywhere (regardless of their religious affiliations or convictions) realize that if they’re not providing sex education to the kids they care for and about, they’ve abdicated the job to online porn (and its curriculum pretty much skips caring relationships and safe sex).
That columnist Tabatha Southey – she of the brilliantly satirical send-up of sexual harassment (“If a superior whispers to you that he has a hotel room and an enormous penis, lighten up and laugh with him!”) – be moved to the higher
profile (i.e. read by women AND men) editorial pages of the Globe and Mail.
That all news media work harder to provide a wider diversity of sources – expert and otherwise – for their stories to better serve and reflect their communities. (Not that we don’t care what older white men think – but even many of them agree that we’d all benefit if the stage was shared!)
*Media Action is national non-profit organization that promotes gender equity through media analysis and action.
We seek to:
- raise public awareness of the impact of media portrayals and practices on social attitudes and behaviour;
- engage consumers in constructive dialogue with media producers about their desire to see more responsible practice;
- challenge socially destructive myths; and
- replace denigrating portrayals with realistic and inspiring ones.
For more information about Media Action and our Informed Opinions project, visit us online.