Latin Women as News Anchors

My name is Rosa Maria Hernandez; I am a junior at San Francisco State. I am a single mother who prides herself in family and friends. I love to write about topics that I find interesting. I never rally read any other blogs and some of the ones that I have recently are merely on entertainment. But more and more do I find it more a necessity that there should be more blogs on real life issues. This only gives us an opportunity to highlight this generation’s point of view on women struggles. I started to take interest in women rights just as I got old enough to realize there was an issue. The equal opportunity that we should all have either is economically or educationally. There has been so much that has changed in our society and the direction that we are headed, is an opportunity for women to recognize that we do have power and only together change can happen. As I get older and wiser I find myself more and more inviting to take pride in my community and self. I have empowered myself and given myself the opportunity to set a great example to my daughter and give her a platform that’s clear and a successful view of what this world has to offer. I have come a long way and have great life experiences I only look forward to what life has to bring. I will be discussing a bit of how Latina women are portrayed in the media and particularly, Latina newscasters.

Much of what our society knows or remembers is based off images, rather it be television, movies or other media outlets. The individual will build their social identities, and the understandings of your biology through intellectual texts produced by the media and their intended audiences. There have been an increasing number of media sources that has objectified Latin women and continues to represent Latin women as over-sexualized objects. I will lay emphasis on Latin women as news anchor and ultimately dissect how they are catering to the male gaze as well as reporting news.

If you haven’t already compared American women anchors to Latin women anchors, you will clearly see Latin women continue the stereotype of the sexual agent. They’re generally wearing tight clothing, short skirts and high heels. Compared to the American women anchors that wear blazers and button ups. Think of the two side by side, which of the two will be respected in the industry and given notability. Women are already at an advantage in a used to be male dominant industry. While slightly more than half of local television news anchors are now women, women still make up only 28 percent of local news directors and 16 percent of the general managers at TV stations that air local news.

Lets get into how Latin new stations vary from American stations. For example,
It’s only in the American news media that has appointed a women anchor, hired as a direct anchor versus a co-anchor. Katie Couric was named the first lead reporter for two CBS Reports series, which aired across all CBS News platforms. When you try to research Latina anchorwomen the only thing that generally comes up are hot news anchors, hottest women in media ECT. Again, Latin women are tagged and linked with sexuality and nothing intellectual or appointed at any level of success in the news. The media continues to objectify Latin women as sex kittens; they degrade them by placing them in a position that they are objects of entertainment

In the Latin community we must first fight against the stereotypes that has been appointed in the media. According to Roger Knight,

“Hispanic professionals must be aware of these differences in perception of the Latino/a stereotype, as it might prove invaluable for personal career advancement as well as for the professional development of the Hispanic workforce and its impact in the U.S. economy as a whole.” Its clear that we are a disadvantage to the media, and yet we still continue to play into these stereotypes. What does that tell you about our communities? In my opinion, it just gives discredit to individuals as well as makes it more difficult to advance in their areas of profession.

It’s known that the Latin community by 2050 will surpass any ethnic group in majority. The community must start now to overcome stereotypes and start representing the community in a better more respectable way. When you look back in time when the first wave feminist began to fight for the equal rights, women were oppressed and giving little to nothing liberty as to what they could achieve. Now you look at how far we have come and you see women still oppressed, but with the ability to achieve just about anything. When I say oppressed I am referencing to the fact that women still find themselves having to cater to the male gaze. For example, Latin anchorwomen they cant just report the news; they have to first be ready to attract the viewers’ eyes with their beauty and over sexualized clothing. It’s as if the news wasn’t enough.

Nothing seems to fall short then to just sexy it up. This really brings me to think that nothing in this generation can just be what it is without adding sex to it. Even Disney has crossed over to the side; their programs targeted for teenagers have become sexualized. Teenagers in the shows look like their adults, act like adults and even talk like adults. They show young teenagers kissing and obsessing with their sex counterparts. I think sometimes, where will the line be crossed, its unfortunate that we have gone down a path that just seems too far-gone to return. I figure if we can start with our own community and rise above all stereotypes and show the society that the Latin community stands above all stereotypes. One great example, Sonia Sotomayor, made this great quote that states, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” When I read that quote it really just made me think how the society indicates what is acceptable and what is norm.

Latin women are seen more as sex objects than an intellectual woman, who work hard and are multifaceted. The norm has been set; the white woman is the intellectual, the conservative and the most successful. At this point in time, its evident we have come along way as a community and now with such great influences like Sonia Sotomayor as our new Supreme Court justice and many other Latin women who are becoming more and more successful. I hope that it only brings more credibility to our community and the stereotypes will soon be a thing of the past.

Latin women in the news should take pride in the position they hold, they are the voices that broadcast what’s going on in our world. Because we are aware of the stereotypes and they hold such an important position, they should stop catering to what the society holds them to be. I feel if the women in media created a new standard for Latin women, the younger generations would have a better sense of what to look up to.

I believe that sooner than later, the Latin community will overcome the stigma that is related with the community. New standards will be set, and the women will be seen as intelligent agents rather than sexual.

Sources:

Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, “The Glass Ceiling Persists: The 3rd Annual APPC Report on Women Leaders in Communication Companies,” December 2003

Roger Knight,Research Support Analyst, Institute for Latino Studies
University of Notre Dame http://www.nd.edu/~latino
http://network.nshp.org/profiles/blogs/hispanic-stereotypes-how-they

Sonia Sotomayor famous quotes
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/sonia_sotomayor.html

Wikipedia

Womyn in Ads

As I was looking through different ads, I started to see a pattern. A kind of statement about what it meant to be a womyn in this culture. I wanted to focus on advertising because I’ve always considered it to be a very powerful educational force. It’s an over $250 billion a year industry, just in the United States. The average American is exposed to over 3,000 ads every single day and will spend two years of his or her life watching television commercials, just the commercials. Pretty crazy eh? The ads, as you know, are everywhere! Our schools, the sides of buildings, sports stadiums, billboards, bus stops, buses themselves, cars, elevators, doctors offices, airplanes, even on food items like eggs.

Ads sell more than product, they sell values, they sell images, they sell concepts of love and sexuality, of success, and perhaps most important, of normalcy. To a great extent they tell us who we are, and who we should be. But what does advertising tell us about womyn? It has told us always that what’s most important is how we look. So the first thing the advertisers do is surround us with the image of ideal female beauty. Womyn learn from a very early age that we must spend enormous amounts of time, energy, and above all money in striving to achieve this look and feeling ashamed and guilty when we fail. And failure is inevitable because the idea is based on absolute flawlessness. She never has any lines or wrinkles. She certainly has no scars or blemishes. Indeed, she has no pores. And the most important aspect of this flawlessness is that this cannot be achieved: no one looks like this, including her. And this is the truth no one looks like this. I read in a magazine that the supermodel Cindy Crawford once said, “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.” When I read that I immediately thought she was crazy but not I understand what she meant. Because this is a look that’s been created for years through airbrushing and cosmetics, but these days it’s done through the magic of computer retouching. Now the ad of the Kardashian Sisters has definitely been retouched about 50 times or so. There is no way that Kim’s face is structured like that and who has hair like that? I know for sure Khloe is thicker than that. Plus it was for Sears, our mothers and grandmothers favorite department store! Definitely trying to turn things around. As you can see computer retouching happens all the time. So we might be looking at a TV commercial and think we’re seeing one womyn, but we’re really seeing four: one womyn’s face, another womyn’s hair, another womyn’s hands, another womyn’s legs. Four or five womyn put together to look like one perfect women.

Even the loveliest celebrities are transformed by computer. You almost never see a photograph of a womyn considered beautiful that hasn’t been photoshopped. The Dove commercial called “Evolution” dramatically illustrates that the image is constructed… it is not real. So the image isn’t real: it’s artificial, it’s constructed. But real womyn and girls measure themselves against this image every single day. It’s an impossible ideal for just about everyone, but it’s absolutely impossible for womyn who aren’t white. Womyn of color are generally considered beautiful only if they approximate the white idea. In this picture Beyonce’s skin is lightened. The ad on the left is from Essence and the one on the left is from Elle magazine. Ads need to start using models that show that you can be big and dark and beautiful too, and you can have curly or kinky hair, and you can have non-European features, and you can be visibly queer or masculine-spectrum, and still be beautiful. Now the research is clear that this ideal image of beauty affects women’s self-esteem. How could it not? And it also influences how men feel about the very real women they are with. We all grow up in a culture in which women’s bodies are constantly turned into “things” and objects.” I mean seriously? And this is everywhere, in all kinds of advertising, women’s bodies turned into “things”- into objects. Now of course this affects female self-esteem. Women’s bodies are dismembered in ads: hacked apart. Just one part of the body is focused upon, which of course is the most dehumanizing thing you could do to someone. Everywhere we look, womyn’s bodies turned into things and often just parts of things. Most often when the body is dismembered, the focus is on the breasts, since we are a culture obsessed with breasts, and breasts are used to sell absolutely everything. Womyn are constantly told we must change our lives by increasing our breasts size, and the stakes are high. Calvin Kline ads are very problematic and provocative. This Calvin Kline ad is trying to sell jeans, but you could barely see the jeans they are wearing. Instead you see a womyn with three men in a sexual position. One of them is straddling her down, while the other is pulling her hair, and the one on the ground is basically just waiting for his turn. We can interpret that as a gang rape, but we don’t see the girl in any kind of struggle. Crazy Calvin Kline ads! Girls are getting the message these days so young that they need to be impossibly beautiful, hot, sexy, extremely thin, and they also get the message they are going to fail, that there’s no way to really achieve it. Girls tend to feel fine about themselves when they’re 8,9, 10 years old, but they hit adolescence and they hit a wall, and certainly part of this wall is this terrible emphasis on physical perfection. Men’s bodies are rarely dismembered in ads. More than they used to be, but still it tends to come as a shock. Men basically don’t live in a world in which their bodies are routinely scrutinized, criticized and judged whereas womyn and girls do. So, girls learn early on that they’re going to be judged first and foremost by how they look. Basically, we are told that womyn are acceptable only if we’re young, thin, white, or at least light-skinned, perfectly groomed and polished, plucked and shaved, and any deviation from this ideal is met with a lot of contempt and hostility.

Obviously sex sells, otherwise we wouldn’t have all these ridiculous ads, such as these. When I first looked at this ad I couldn’t even tell what they were trying to sell because of all the distraction. But if you take a closer look on the left bottom corner, you can see that the ad is for a vacuum. I came across a toilet paper ad called Reneva. Now can someone tell me what is so sexy about toilet paper? Nothing. My favorite one is a Volvo ad, not literally my favorite but I just thought it was very creative. The ad read “We Are Just As Excited As You Are.” Pretty funny. All these ads have some kind of sexual reference to it and some you don’t even know what product they are trying to sell and some don’t even make sense. That’s advertising for ya!

Bio:
My name is Jissel Quevedo. I’m a junior at San Francisco State University. I am originally from the East Bay, Concord to be specific. I transferred from Diablo Valley College and I decided to attend SFSU because I wanted to be around people with different ethnic background and because life in the City is so alive. Reading and learning about interesting things such as African American and Latin@ struggles and gender issues are things that influence my writing. I love to read different types of genres except scary or mysterious novels. I’m very interested in the teachers for social justice movement because I believe that our system is failing the youths and we need to come up with an educational reform that will work.

Women in Music

Should your appearance be a measure of your success? Are your talents and skills represented by the way you look? Corporate America encourages us to judge each other based on appearance with sayings like “dress the part” and “look like a million bucks.” We make a value statement about a person when we correlate skill or talent to their appearance. Some studies show that the key to success (in a monetary sense) is to appear successful. It is understood that a person becomes successful by dressing successful because he or she is able to demonstrate their “true” value through their clothes and attention to detail of their whole appearance. Therefore from that point of view, snap judgments of individuals are accepted and encouraged. That is what our current social climate adheres to but how does that impact our perceptions and behaviors towards others?

Clearly, there are some benefits to making snap judgments based on appearance. It seems to be an effective tool used to speed up a decision making process like an interview. We are able to participate in that type of behavior because there is a biological reasoning behind it. In an evolutionary sense, human beings and their ancestors had to make quick and effective decisions about their environment based on appearance (Does that animal/ person look dangerous?) to survive and procreate. Through the evolutionary process that ability got reinforced and became part of the way humans interact. That skill continues to be used today and depending on the situation, it does or does not serve the same purpose.

Snap judgments on appearance affect everyone both in a positive and negative way. However, women are affected to a higher degree than men in a negative way. In general women tend to be objectified as sexual beings before they are valued as individuals. Many articles cite the Lolita Effect, the sexual objectification of young girls, as an example. The Lolita Effect term was made popular because of a book, Lolita, about a pedophile that interprets a 12-year old girl’s behavior as sexual advances. The term sets forth the idea of outsiders enforcing sexual roles onto young girls, which many companies are doing. Companies are releasing more and more products that target young girls, as young as 5, and help them find their “inner sex kitten” . If there are products out in the market place that are focusing on young girls sexuality instead of their development then it’s reflective of our society’s perception of women as primarily sexual objects and not individuals.

A prime example of how the media is able to target young girls is the music industry. If you look at the representation of women in the top 40 charts, most of the women are considered “pop divas.” A pop diva is a pop music goddess but the term goddess is more akin to “temptress” then to all-powerful. A list composed by a teen music site noted the top 10 women in music in 2011 to be: Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Shakira, Kesha, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Adele, and Lady Gaga. These artists are a little more distinct from each other then a list of female artist composed 20 years ago but mostly only in style. Nicki Minaj is a rapper from Trinidad and Tobago compared to the all American girl Britney Spears but both of the women’s images are filtered through a sexual lens for the American audience. Nicki Minaj accentuates her derriere in her music videos and Britney Spears shows off her body by wearing nude color body suits in her videos. Even Lady Gaga with her avant garde performances eludes sexuality in each of her videos (“Bad Romance” and “pokerface”). Although many of these women are talented vocally and as writers, they are primarily seen as sex objects to the American public. These women understand that sex sells so they embrace their sexual objectification through their music and videos. Katy Perry’s first big single was titled, “I kissed a girl and I liked it,” which launched her career and made her outrageously successful pop diva.  Similarly, Shakira became one of the first famous Latina women in The United States because of her ability to move her body in sexual way. Her hips movements and belly dancing routine are a significant portion of her appeal and success in the American and global market. It seems that success for women in the music world is measured by their sexual appeal and how well that artists embraces their sexuality. The music that is set forth therefore exacerbates the image of women as sexual objects and correlates sexuality to success.

As hinted in my initial point of discussion, female music artists have to look sexy in order for them to become successful. Christina Aguilera was one of the first major Latina artists in The United States. She became successful as a teenager with a big voice and innocent style. Her career is particularly interesting because it exemplifies the different levels of success for a female artist in the music industry. During her first album, her produced look and teenybopper style launched her into stardom with the song “I’m a genie in a bottle”. She continued to rise with the release of her second album, Stripped, which attempted to rough up her image and present her as a multifaceted artist and woman. Yet her success on Stripped was influenced more by her track “Dirty,” an the overt sexual power of women, then other tracks that focused on her as an individual. Fast-forward to 2011, Christina Aguilera is no longer viewed as a successful artist. She lost the sexual appeal of the American market, which was not the only caused to her perceived failure but certainly is a significant factor. She is recognized to have a powerful voice and has many Grammy’s throughout her carrier yet her current performances are heavily critiqued on her appearance. It seems that as the American public, we do not want to hear a female artist unless she represents our skewed perception of a woman, a sexual object.

Christina Aguilera is not the only example, but she seems to be a very poignant one. Other female artists like Beyonce strive to demonstrate female power within all circumstances. It was recently discovered that Beyonce is pregnant yet she performed a song with stilettos. The high heals do not enhance her vocal performance but are a key aspect to her appearance. It is as if she needed the stilettos to state, “Yes I may be pregnant but I am still a sexy woman.” It is comforting to note that not all female artists become successful through their appearance but as musicians first like Adele. Adele’s videos focus on the music not her appearance as a sexual being. They provide an example for girls and women to identify themselves as individuals and not sexual objects. This analysis of women in music does not discount the talents of the female artist noted but strives to point out why the American audience finds them appealing in the first place.

-Mario Maciel

Bio:
I am Mario Maciel, Mexican-American student working his way to becoming a bilingual Speech Language Pathologist. I am a senior at San Francisco State University majoring in Communicative Disorders and I am currently applying to graduate school. I am very passionate about helping others reach their potential, especially children and children with special needs. I was born and raised in San Jose California. I was lucky enough to be exposed to a variety of people and opinions, which allowed me to develop my own identity. However that was not always the case and I had to overcome many limitations in our educational system and injustices in our society. There are millions of people in the world that endure injustices because of their gender, sexual orientation, race, education, disability, appearance, or opinions. I want to be a voice for those who are subjected to injustices and I want to speak against our condescending society that ostracizes those who do not fit the norm. I strive to help people help themselves and proudly stand as an individual.

Latinas in Politics

According to the 2010 United States Census the total population of the country is 308,745,538, with women accounting for 50.8% of the population.  Consequently, Latinos accounted for 47.8 million individuals in the U.S. with Latinas accounting for approximately 48% of said demographic.  Currently, there 86 women serving in the 110th United States Congress with Latinas accounting for 7/86.   In a study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center approximately 64% of Latina/o respondents answered that they “did not know” who they thought was the most important Latina/o leader in the Nation.

In an MSNBC Wonder Wall: Power Wall, 10 Latino Politicians to Watch, Latinas accounted for only 3/10 on the list with 2/3 belonging to the Republican Party.  The highest ranking woman on the list came in at number two and is none other than Hilda Solis, the U.S. Secretary of Labor, and one of only two Latinos serving in President Obama’s Cabinet.   Solis was also the first Latina to be elected to the California State Senate (1994).   At number four stands, Jaime Herrera Bueutler, the youngest female in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Herrera Beutler is most notable for her proposal of cuts to congressional salaries.  The third highest ranking Latina on the list came in at number seven, New Mexico Governor, Susana Martinez.  Martinez is most distinguished for attempting to ban undocumented immigrants from obtaining Driver’s Licenses.

(The number one spot was given to none other than Rush Limbaugh favorite, Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American from Florida.  Rubio touts an impressive biography including being born to a family of Cuban “exiles” albeit that his family came to the U.S. in 1956, when any talk of revolution would have been considered hearsay.  For those who might forget, Castro did not come to power until 1959-what is that smell? I think it is Rubio’s BS.)

According to the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, Latinas were less than 1% of the total number of U.S. elected officials (1999).  Of the total Latino elected officials in Texas, California, Arizona, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Illinois, and New Jersey, Latinas accounted for 27.3%.  Unsurprisingly, with a massive Latino population, Texas ranks the highest in the overall number of publicly elected Latino officials but is sixth out of the nine in terms of the number of Latinas elected to public office.  While California boasts the highest number of Latina elected officials in the Union.  Since Latinos are becoming such a large part of the U.S. population, it is imperative to have the composition of our elected officials accurately reflect the demographics of our diverse society.  According to Professor Sonia Garcia, “Latinas typically seek involvement in Politics not only to influence policy and get candidates elected but… [to give] back to the Latino community.”

But Latinas, let us not despair, according to the National Association of Latino Officials, in 2001 Latinas accounted for 38% of Latino Elected Officials in the Country.  California Congresswoman, Loretta Sanchez said “[Latinas] come from a culture that the people who get things done tend to be women.  About politics in general, Congresswoman Sanchez stated, “the traditional political arena is a man’s world.  Women are discounted, and most women who make it to Congress get there despite the fact that the institution and the machinery are against them.”  Congresswoman Sanchez experienced all too well the level of bigotry that Latinas are forced to endure when her opponent, Bob Dor-nan, credited Sanchez’s win to “illegal Mexicans”, which launched an investigation to the allegations and later discovered to be meritless.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund has tracked a 74% increase in the number of Latina elected officials from 1996 to 2007.  In 2008, there were 75 Latina state legislators in 22 states in the Country.  The increase is a good indicator of Latinas overcoming the racism and sexism that they continue to experience eleven years into the 21st century.  These trends are not limited only to politics but in terms of educational attainment, Latinas consistently outnumber their Latino counterparts by a nearly ten percent margin, of those whom have obtained a high school diploma.  Accordingly, Latinas accounted for 61% of the first time full time Latino freshman, enrolled in four year universities.

It is important that we recognize these trends for they are indicative of the socio-political upheaval of the fastest emerging demographic in the United States.  These numbers demonstrating increased educational and political attainment levels are significant in that they are also tied to socio-economic upheaval.     Considering that the Latino community was the hardest hit by the global recession this is great news for the entire Latino population.  As a result of the recession, Latinos saw a drop in 66% of their total wealth as noted by the Pew Hispanic Center.  The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) sponsors a non-partisan program each year known as, Eleccion Latina.  The program provides services and workshops to help Latinas get elected to office.  The program also focuses on campaign training in addition to the general services and workshops.

Due the surge in population among the Latino demographic and Latinas accounting for approximately half of this population, it is important to get more Latinas in professional roles, including but not limited to the Political realm.  All too often Latinas are bombarded with images of their overt sexuality and little else.  While it is great to see talented Latinas like, Salma Hayek gaining recognition for their craft or those whom raise political awareness like, Eva Longoria, these women are continuously hypersexualized by their industry.  The duality that exists is that Latinas are seen as little more than sex objects but at the same time are considered “dirty Mexicans”- and I say Mexican because, for those of you who don’t know, most people in the United States have a tendency to believe that anyone with a Spanish surname is Mexican, regardless of whether or not they are.  Young Latinas have very rare examples of successful Latinas, other than overly objectified celebrities, and I am sure that the lack of Latina politicians also serves to further politically disenfranchise Latinas in general.

It is imperative that we try to get as many Latinas educated as possible.  Since these women will account for about half of the soon to be majority of the United States population, we need these women to become valuable assets to our knowledge economy and not just domestic workers.  Anyone who dares call to themselves a patriot surely understands the disastrous implications for the United States if we continue to marginalize such a large portion of our society and one that is projected to replace Caucasians as the majority.  It is little more than self sabotage to make crippling cuts to public higher education.

Historically, those with higher education degrees earn more money in their lifetime than those with merely a high school diploma.  The more money the individual makes, the more money that is generated in revenue for the United States-taxes, anyone?  Maybe if the Top 1% were people of color, the right wing fringe would not think twice about taxing the wealthy.  That is not to say that conservatives are racists-lefties can be racists too-but we would be fooling ourselves if we refuse to acknowledge the role bigoted prejudice plays in our society and public policy-remember the Nixon tapes?   If we are to continue to prosper as a Nation we must educate marginalized communities, those with the lowest educational attainment levels and the highest drop-out rates.  The true patriots of this Country know the success of the United States is contingent on higher education and increased political engagement.

***

Crystal De La Roca:

I am a Bi-Coastal native of the United States, an Americana from the SF Bay Area, California and Miami, Florida.  I am enrolled at San Francisco State University and I am a future Law Student.  I love San Francisco! It is an amazing city that is full of amazing people!  I also tend to approach life with a touch of humor-it would be too depressing otherwise.

My work/writing is heavily influenced by the social, economic, and political disparities that exist in my Country.  After moving to San Francisco and enrolling at SFSU, through my courses, I became increasingly disturbed by the fact that we have an underclass in the United States and how politicians and corporate media fail to address this demographic-including the issues that affect them.  From my middle class bubble in South Florida, I only knew about working class, middle class, and upper class dichotomies.  Being made aware of how racism, sexism, and classism still play such an incredible role in our society, even after the progress of the Civil Rights movement, has prompted me to dedicate my academic and professional careers to the fruition of Social Justice.

The Image of a Woman

Many movies are based on ideas from real life. They come from what we see everyday, thoughts that flow through our minds, dreams we may have, places we’ve been and people we have met.  So I find myself wondering… for all the archetypal women found in films…. Do real life counter parts exist for these characters? Are they real women? Are they fantasies someone dreamt up one particularly lonely night? Where are the ideas for these characters coming from? What do people see when they experience a woman? And maybe more importantly, how are these versions of women affecting the expectations of real women?

Take for instance the actress Angelina Jolie—known for being a tough, beautiful woman. Constantly taking roles as sexy, adventurous and warrior women, Like in the movie “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”[6], where she plays a hardened rich, sexy, desired archeologist. In the film there are nude scenes that are completely unimportant to the development of the story, there are sexual innuendos when there is almost no romantic or sexual relationship between any characters and she divulges completely into the male fantasy of a tough, hardened chick. She even wears dominatrix like clothing as her “uniform”. This character has been franchised into video games, TV shows, comic strips and even into a film sequel; therefore exposing this female character to different sorts of media viewers. Do men expect that I jump into caves not knowing what awaits me inside? Or to drive a motorcycle backwards while shooting at my enemy’s various henchmen? Because I assure you I will not be doing those activities in the near future.

Another good example of female stereotypes in film can be found in almost every Tyler Perry movie, however let’s focus on one in particular, “For Colored Girls”[4], a film that touches on multiple types of victims including victims of rape, abortion, murder, inability to perceive, deception, abuse, etc.  Does this movie infer that to be a strong woman, a woman must first be a victim? What about a woman who hasn’t experienced those types of abuse or victimization? Are they not seen as a woman in our society’s eyes?

Another popular stereotype is the good-hearted but short-witted and over sexualized “ditz”.  Let us take the example of the movie “The House Bunny”[5]. A story of a charming, unintelligent ex-playmate who winds up in a sorority house filled with misfit nerds. While wearing lingerie and saying outlandishly idiotic things, this character charms her way into the hearts of the audiences through her kindness and understanding; while the vision of her perfectly round and spread out cleavage charms its way into the visual pleasure centers of the male brain.

Do men expect all sexually attractive women to be idiots? And what about Latina women? As most of the previously mentioned characters aren’t Latina, do Latinos expect that Latinas look, act and be like these characters even though they look different and come from different backgrounds?

An article titled, “Women in Film: In Search for True Liberation for Women” states that

“It can be said with no exaggeration that without women there would be no cinema. Sadly, this is so not because the natural concerns of genuine womanhood have been addressed in film, but because from the very beginnings of cinema a woman has been made the centerpiece of attraction, an object of desire.”[2]

The true nature of a woman isn’t expressed in film; women are too complex for one film to tap into all the aspects of a woman, so instead some filmmakers decide to just focus on the beauty of a woman. Therefore there are films filled with women with “beauty beyond compare”.  These are the women with perfect hair, ageless faces and the “ideal bodies”. Now some woman might find it nice to be perceived as beautiful and attractive, myself included, however when these characters or women are transformed from depictions of what women are into standards of how women should be, I start to have a problem. I mean do they forget these women are fake?   They pick the perfect face and body (a.k.a. actress.) These characters have wardrobe stylists, makeup artists, trainers etc. I mean c’mon! These women are paid to look amazing!

I am not paid to look beautiful, I am simply just expected to, every single day of my existence.  Sometimes I just cannot stand up to the guidelines of beauty these women are portraying, I’m not even sure these women can live up to the images they are portraying! What do you expect of me? A poor college student working two minimum wage jobs—do you expect that I am going to be hiring a top fitness expert to make sure my butt and my breasts are perfectly round? Do they expect a makeup artist to come into my home every morning and paint my face with their special powders and stains? Do you expect me to have the energy every morning to wake up, wash my hair, style it and make sure that it looks perfect all day long? Do you expect that I have the perfect wardrobe? No matter how well these women act that they are like my peers and me, these women are probably not facing as many financial struggles as we are. So excuse me, if on my day off I put my hair in a bun and don’t comb it, or if I decide I want to wear my sweats for the ENTIRE weekend, if I don’t spray my designer perfume before I go to take out the trash! Is my beauty tainted? Am I not a “woman? And let’s face it; the machismo Latino men expect a lot of “their” women. They expect us to look good, to be able to cook and clean and take care of the house and to do it all with a smile. But what if some of us Latinas just cannot fit this script, what happens to us? Do we automatically lose our “woman card”? Will we be shunned in our Latino communities; will we be shunned in our homes?

In another article titled “Analysis of Harmful Representations of Women in the Media: Negative Images in Television, Video Games, Movies, and Magazines” states that:

“Television is one of the most present and widely viewed mediums in this country and have a large effect on the way women see themselves and how others view them. Television, with its many shows about men and women, is responsible for some harmful representations of women because, among other reasons, it supports many gender stereotypes. These stereotypes are harmful for women because they confine women to several gender-specific roles that are not always true. “[1]

The same is true for films. Many women feel the need to fit certain “womanly roles” one of these roles being the motherly role.  Many girls grow up with the dreams oh having a family complete with the perfect husband and the perfect children.  This is especially true in Latino culture, where women are married young and have offspring soon after. The basis of the family is extremely important, but so I looking good. A younger woman might feel the need to take on the role of the beautiful, desirous, young woman. It is easy for society to take advantage of the vulnerability of women trying to figure out what a “real woman” is.  This becomes the perfect platform for marketing schemes—schemes that will tell women how they should look. How far does this marketed woman idea go? Did you know about the economics of women? Take for example this excerpt from an article about media portrayals of women and how this affects body image.

 “On the one hand, women who are insecure about their bodies are more likely to buy beauty products, new clothes, and diet aids. It is estimated that the diet industry alone is worth anywhere between 40 to 100 billion.”[3]

Frankly some of these ideas of a woman, as portrayed by media and film, do not fit into the goals and desires I hold for myself.  However if I follow what I want, I risk being isolated from my society, and if I follow what “they” say, I risk being unhappy within myself. What’s a woman to do? Where’s my script? What character should I play?

Literature:

“Analysis of Harmful Representations of Women in the Media: Negative Images in Television, Video Games, Movies, and Magazines.” Welcome to ArticleMyriad.com! Web. 18 Oct. 2011. <http://www.articlemyriad.com/9.htm&gt;. [1]

“Women in Film: In Search Of True Liberation For Women.” The Truth About Cinema. Web. 18 Oct. 2011. <http://www.cinemaseekers.com/womanhood/women_in_film.html&gt;. [2]

Yamamiya, Y., T. Cash, S. Melnyk, H. Posavac, and S. Posavac. “Women’s Exposure to Thin-and-beautiful Media Images: Body Image Effects of Media-ideal Internalization and Impact-reduction Interventions.” Body Image 2.1 (2005): 74-80. Print. [3]

Films:

For Colored Girls. Dir. Tyler Perry. Perf. Whoopi Goldberg,Janet Jackson, Kerry Washington. Lionsgate Films, 2010. DVD. [4]

The House Bunny. Dir. Fred Wolf. Prod. Adam Sandler. Anna Faris, Colin Hanks, and Emma Stone. Columbia Pictures, 2008. DVD. [5]

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Dir. Simon West. 2001. DVD. [6]

My name is Cristina Diaz. I am a junior at San Francisco State University, relishing my twentieth year of life in this beautiful exciting city. I am originally from San Jose so I’ve been born and bred here in the Bay Area and quite proud of it. I guess what influences my writing is reading things that interest me. I obviously don’t enjoy reading all the boring and redundant articles assigned in class that are filled with terminology I don’t know or care to investigate about. I’d rather read something with humor, with a stance, and with a clear and concise idea or method. No bells or whistles, just straight to the point and real. So I write as if I was writing for my own enjoyment.  Issues I concern myself with are obviously women struggles in this male and money dominated society I live in, the struggles of students of all ages and backgrounds and the opportunities that are awarded to some but not others, issues of the Latino (including the minority idea, immigration, etc).  The issue I find myself most passionate about is the right to education for all no matter what social or economic background that student finds his or herself in. If we don’t learn we don’t progress, and if we aren’t encouraged to grow, we won’t learn.


Hello World!

We are analyzing the representation of women in the media across multiple modalities to identify a social understanding of what it means to be a woman in contemporary western society. More specifically, this study will focus on Latin women.  Our aim is to dissect the role of Latin women in the present day United States.  Thus, we will be employing a sociological approach to examine the portrayals of women in politics, women in advertising campaigns, women in the music industry, women’s portrayal as victims, female newscasters and anchors, and more.

Accordingly, we believe this focus is critical as the Latina/o population is the fastest emerging demographic in the United States.  The Latino community is comprised of approximately 50 million individuals, and has surpassed the African American community as the largest minority group in the Country.  It is estimated that by the year 2050 the Latino community will account for the majority of the United States’ population, making this the only minority group to surpass Caucasians as the racial/ethnic majority in the history of the Country.

Hence, we will focus this study on the roles women take on and how the media in turn interprets and presents this to mainstream United States society.  Additionally, we will examine how women interpret the expectations of their respective gender roles in our society and why women either reject or adhere to said expectations.   Therefore, we are striving to comprehend how the current perception of women today influences or affects the development of young girls and women.