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Nicholas Vo
John Kubler
English 115
21 October 2014
What Choice?
From my personal experience, I found it easier to follow the flow of society than to fight
against it. There was a time when long hair and skin tight pants were in fashion, so I grew out my
hair and bought skin tight pants. Was it my choice? Yes, it was my choice, but was it really my
choice? No. I was pressured into changing my style just to fit in. Otherwise, I would feel like an
outcast. Agency is a commonly used word in feminist context. It is defined as an individuals
capacity to act independently and make their own free choices. All people have the freedom of
choice. If a girl wants to be sexually active with numerous men, then that is her choice. If a girl
chooses to starve herself to look better, then that is her choice. If a man wants to be a womanizer,
then that is his choice. But is it really their choice? The media constantly bombards us with images
of true beauty, promotes promiscuity and the idea that womanizers are cool. Society and the
media have become active members in dictating the way we live.
People are faced with two simple choices: conform to society or dont. The media and
society put a tremendous amount of pressure on individuals to conform. There are powerful
female celebrities who promote promiscuity and male actors who advertise philandering. These
are both considered to be normal today. Society is affected negatively by hyper-sexualization
because it strips individuals of their freedom of choice. Individuals do have a choice, but they will
be ridiculed if they choose to fight against the flow. In order to regain our freedom of choice,
people must understand the media and society, and realize they are active members in their own
lives. People should not allow society to dictate the way they live their lives.

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The media greatly influences people, especially young girls. In the article Media,
Empowerment, and the Sexualization of Culture Debates by Rosalind Gill, a British cultural
theorist and feminist, she conducts a study on how young girls are influenced by the media. She
states They understood how [the media] . . . worked . . . yet still had to live up to the particular
images of beauty they were fed (Gill 740). Young girls are constantly fed this image of what
society deems as true beauty and in order for men to be attracted to these girls, they have to live
up to this image. The video Medias Effect on Teen Girls Body Image and Self-Esteem by
Jackie Dunnett, explains how girls are being affected negatively by the media. More girls are
suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia because society defines beauty as
skinny. The sexualization of the media comes with negative effects. Girls value their looks over
their health. Girls are pressured to look a certain way and they resort to starving themselves to be
deemed as attractive in a society of high standards.
Our pornified culture influences girls to believe having sex freely and frequently is
something to be proud of. In the graphic novel, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, the main character,
Marji, resorts to living with her friend, Julie, after she is expelled from her boarding house. Julie is
only eighteen years old and she has a very active sex life. She proudly tells Marji, Ive been
having sex for five years. . . . Ive already slept with eighteen guys (Persepolis 182). According to
Julie, she has been sexually active since she was thirteen. This is a fairly young girl with confused
values. She believes sex is all men want and she degrades herself to a sexual object. This
promiscuity is common today and women are proud to be promiscuous because the media
promotes it.
If Julie is proud of being sexually active at a young age, is it empowerment?
Empowerment is a word that is thrown around to justify improper behavior by women. In the
article Porn as a Pathway to Empowerment? A Response to Petersons Commentary by Sharon

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Lamb, professor of Counseling Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, she
discusses the internal feeling of empowerment and its relationship to actual empowerment. She
argues The pornography inspired version of sexual empowerment (even though admittedly,
playing around in pornographic ways can evoke a spirit of experimentation. . .) is tied to a multibillion dollar industry that has at its center exploitation (Lamb 316) and the avenues for
experimentation that are open to the majority of teen girls come from the porn industry, are sold to
them as empowerment (Lamb 316). Julie only feels empowered by her sex life because the media
presented this pornographic sex life as empowering. Julie did not have a choice. The pornified
media persuaded her to become sexually active and it sold the idea that promiscuity is
empowering.
Sex is becoming more and more common in a society of one-night stands and casual
encounters. In the movie Crazy, Stupid, Love, Jacob, a handsome womanizer, picks up many
women using pick-up lines and special moves. When Jacob first speaks to Hannah, he casually
says You wont regret the one time you went home with the guy from the bar who was a total
tomcat in the sack (Crazy, Stupid, Love 08:00). Jacob is very confident of his sexual abilities. He
views women as sexual objects who are only there for his pleasure. It popularizes the idea that
men should only pursue one-night stands and meaningless sex with women whom they just met.
This image of Jacob inspires men to behave the same way. Men will most often behave like Jacob,
because they are pressured to.
Men are often ridiculed if they behave or dress differently from societys standards. In
Crazy, Stupid, Love, Jacob takes Cal to the mall to re-shape Cals appearance. Cal was a man who
dictated the way he lived. He wore New Balance shoes not because he was in a fraternity, or the
billionaire owner of Apple computers, but because they are comfortable. Then, Jacob steps in and
says You have no right to wear New Balance sneakers ever (Crazy, Stupid, Love 25:50). Cal is

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faced with two choices, either get rid of his New Balance shoes, or keep them and be ridiculed.
Cal is forced to revoke his freedom choice in order to conform to society.
In relationships today, it is a common to assume sex is necessary in order to keep
relationships going. In Persepolis, Marji is in a platonic relationship with her boyfriend, Enrique.
In other words, it was a non-sexual relationship. One night, she hoped to lose her virginity to
Enrique, but the next morning she awoke a virgin. Enrique then ended their relationship. After this
event, Marji states I understood Julie better when she talked about the negative effects of a
platonic affair. . . I had grasped the necessity of a carnal relationship (Persepolis 216). A carnal
relationship is one that is solely physical. After her breakup, Marji understood platonic
relationships would never work and in order to keep a long lasting relationship. There had to be
sex. Society puts pressure on Marji as well as all other girls to provide sexual favors to men whom
they seek relationships with. It is not their choice, because if they do not, the men will disapprove
of them.
The media and society greatly influences the behavior and lifestyle of all people. Music
videos and movies teach men to treat women as objects and women are taught to be promiscuous.
We do not have a choice to behave this way. We all fear ridicule if we choose not to conform to
society. Men would not be considered men if they behaved differently from how the media
portrays them and that is the same for women. People must reassess their values and make
educated decisions. They must understand that conformity is unnecessary and they may
independently choose. If one views societies standards as wrong, then they