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Pablo Dominguez Women & Media The Patriarchal Paradigm 5/12/12

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also the wives should submit to their husbands in everything. - Ephesians 5:21.

This is but one quote that functions to establish a patriarchal hierarchy. Referencing the bible, or rather, holy scriptures handed down from God to man, these scriptures are used by conservative Christians to irrefutably delineate male and female gender roles. Religion is one major contributing factor to maintaining patriarchy, as religion is rooted in faith. One should not question His word. The prevailing agenda of patriarchy is that of its preservation. This is achieved not only by stating that men are greater than women, but through a mutually participatory system that intelligently allows for it to flourish naturally. Understanding how, why, and where this works is crucial to dismantling what has been learned through powerful media influence. Defining patriarchy gives credence to the idea that there is an agenda, because for it to have existed for so long means that it has been actively perpetuated. Patriarchy is the primary force which molds our psyche from childhood through adulthood. It defines gender roles before we are aware of them, it places a woman in a subservient position to man, and it promotes male dominance behind the shields of religion, politics, and safety. By creating an inferior, quiet, meek, seemingly disabled sex, it asserts the role of the valiant, chivalrous, breadwinning hero and allows for the common mentality to be that man is superior to woman. This is the mentality that is dominant on a worldwide scale. The problems start once one puts patriarchy in context to society, realizing that it is so pervasive and mainstream that it is accepted as the norm, often without question. It is inherently oppressive to women, which is inherently detrimental to society as a whole. Quiverfull, by Kathryn Joyce details the Christian patriarchy movement and how it has a firm grasp on the homeschooling curricula. She describes how the Christian patriarchy demonizes feminist thinking; as any semblance of questioning the bible is sacrilege. I find this significant to mention because it uses the Ephesians 5:21 quote as proof of the Lords will. Doug Philips, founder of Vision Forum states that the bible says that man is not made for the woman but the woman is made for the man. If you have a problem with that, take it up with the Creator. If someone were to be born into this line of thinking, then one can only assume that with no impetus for change that they will adapt to and perpetuate it. Sadly, if you type feminism into Google, the fourth link down states feminism is evil, courtesy of http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Evils%20in%20America/Feminism/feminism_is_evil.htm. By defining gender roles and elaborating on what is expected of each gender, a sexist mentality is created. This is shaped by the prevailing dominant messages that are delivered through the media from a patriarchal point of view. When a baby is born, it is culturally accepted that pink clothes are for girls, blue is for boys. This is reinforced as they grow; dolls being for girls, action figures for boys, toy kitchens for girls and toy cars for boys, while being shown images of women becoming teachers and

nurses while men become lawyers and doctors. When these roles are practiced and become common and go unquestioned, it allows for these actions to perpetuate, creating parents who teach this to their children, who learn their place relative to the opposite sex. This is how culture is created, which is why patriarchy is self sufficient. It relies on biases that perpetuate through what the culture has established as proper. The enemy within must be transformed before we can confront the enemy outside. The threat, the enemy, is sexist thought and behavior (hooks, bell. Feminism is for Everybody , 14). The media is the largest most influential source of information that we as a culture absorb. It is also the greatest perpetuator of patriarchal hierarchy which in turn generates a myriad of problems for women. Susan Douglas talks about the images delivered to women through the media in Where the Girls Are: the media urges us to be pliant, cute, sexually available, thin, blond, poreless, wrinkle-free, and deferential to men. But the media also suggests we could be rebellious, tough, enterprising, and shrewd. Douglas calls this the idea of a schizophrenic imposed by the contradictory messages supplied by the media. These images attack from television, film, magazines, billboards, and the internet, permeating every form of media, telling women to be two to ten things at the same time. From the agereducing-wrinkle-curing skin creams, to the thigh flattering miracle jeans, such advertisements only aid in supporting the paranoia of looking old and unshapely while sparing no expense at picking away at self-esteem. This unmitigated psychological attack becomes, at its core, a sophisticated slavery. Women are objectified by their body image and compartmentalized by gender roles, while a carrot on a stick is dangled at a distance as to give a modicum of hope. Women are misled to think that beauty is paramount. What the supremely influential mediasphere creates is an unfortunate cycle of competition, self-validation, disrespect, distorted image, and misunderstanding. The objectification of the human body; the judgmental and broad assumptions rooted in an inherent need to place oneself in context to others is a terrible practice that is not only commonplace, but routinely accepted as the norm. The media promotes this idea for profit, while distracting women from more important issues like equal rights, egalitarianism, etc. That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with womens faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at timesI absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women. Ashley Judd. The feminist movement has been an ongoing attempt to primarily dismantle patriarchy. The feminist way of thinking, as described by bell hooks, is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. She uses the word sexism is to detach the meaning of feminism from the one generated by the media, which often portrays it as merely the agenda for women to gain superior rights to men. In actuality, the feminist movement seeks to create equality and abolish the sexist mentality and everything associated with it. Unfortunately, again, the patriarchal mass media does not elaborate on this definition, which has given feminism a negative stigma. By downplaying its significance and allowing for buzzwords like feminazi to circulate, the average person is only aware of the stereotypes associated with the concept of feminism. Like the stereotypes of the African American basketball player on sitcoms, the Mexican janitor, and Middle Eastern taxi driver, the feminist archetype is seen as a butch, lesbian, irrationally loud threat to public safety. Apparently, getting the right lipstick colour is a far more pressing matter than equal rights for everyone and world peace, or at least thats what the media seems to assert.

What should be done to stop this patriarchal mentality from perpetuating? Observe how information is disseminated and spread. The media does this supremely well. I said before in a blog post that what would be most advantageous would be the advent of advertisements that are focused on presenting an unfiltered, unbiased truth, provided for the audience to absorb as free will intends. Absent are the methods of persuasion, selling of identity, selling of sex, emotions, lies, and in their place an undistorted balance that is akin to how the real world should be. In addition to changing the message in the mass media, bell hooks said public education for children has to be a place where feminist activities continue to do the work of creating an unbiased curriculum (23). I feel it is necessary to mention how the media has played a role in my life experience, especially in pivotal moments, which are largely negative in nature. I discovered at a young age that the world I learned about through television was different from the world I lived in. I grew up watching shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Power Rangers, Married With Children and Ninja Turtles. I knew that what I saw was not real. When it came to other television shows however, my sisters took a liking to emanating what they saw, which I never really understood back then. What I saw as entertainment and fake they took as the world they should strive for. One sister took on smoking at a young age, using my coat pocket as a stash while threatening me if I told on her; the other took to craving the celebrity life while sneaking out of the house to go to boyband concerts. Simultaneously I witnessed infidelity as my mother juggled multiple boyfriends while rewarding my silence with toys. Somehow, I became an accomplice in the dual lives my family members seemed to run, protecting their secrets and keeping my word. We were a broken family of four, living in project housing on welfare. I was the youngest and only male, sans father figure or any person I could confidently look up to. My oldest sibling and brother lived a mile away and was a paranoid schizophrenic, who often adapted the personas of various celebrities. I was a chronic asthmatic that was annually admitted into Mount Sinai hospital. Everywhere I looked, in everything, all I saw were faults. I became introverted. I learned to judge harshly. Before I was born, my sisters were taken from my mother due to domestic abuse. They fled from their new family one day and returned home, which caused a stir in the news and somehow led to things returning to normal. Apparently, while I was in the womb, my brother knocked my mothers teeth out after a dispute (under the persona of Mike Tyson), which was when he became no longer a part of the household. I was born not too long after that. Fast forward about 12 years. My cigarette smoking sister was influenced greatly by her peers and dropped out of school. She was pregnant at 18, and again at 20, living at home with two daughters (graced at a distance with deadbeat dad) which increased our household count to 6. Not too long after, my grandparents from Puerto Rico came to visit, and stayed with us permanently due to the heart problems of my grandpa and his subsequent stay in the hospital. My aunt, her boyfriend, and her son would come to visit from Puerto Rico as well from time to time to check up on my grandpa. One day, my aunt and her boyfriend split up. They both disappeared, leaving their autistic son in the custody of my mother. Soon after, my grandfather passed away, and a few months later, my grandmother. About two years later, we learned that my aunt was murdered in a back alley in Puerto Rico (an event televised and in the papers) due to alleged involvement with drugs. It was at this point that I had graduated from high school and dropped out of art college. As a result, I took two years off from my studies to try and understand more about myself and how I want to continue with my future. There was a lot of emotive information attacking routinely, like clockwork. During this time, I got addicted to World of Warcraft and literally, escaped to a different world.

I bring up all of this because I understand the significance of these novel-esque events. I have always felt like an outsider looking in, cringing at every page turned in my ornate book of life, yet I was invested emotionally and physically to every one of them. I have been largely surrounded by the opposite sex, experiencing a clinically schizophrenic brother and a media induced schizophrenia in the rest of my family. I see the media relation and social influence in every single event. What if I continued my education in art? What if my family had a better education? Would I have the same number of siblings? Would I have been born? How much was the media responsible for? Can I pin the blame so easily? This is why my study is the media. We have to step back and contemplate the roots of our perceptions. bell hooks posits the following in Feminism is for Everybody: Imagine living in a world where there is no domination, where females and males are not alike or even always equal, but where a vision of mutuality is the ethos shaping our interaction. Imagine living in a world where we can all be who we are, a world of peace and possibility. Feminist revolution alone will not create such a world; we need to end racism, class elitism, imperialism. But it will make it possible for us to be fully self-actualized females and males able to create beloved community, to live together, realizing our dreams of freedom and justice, living the truth that we are all created equal. This does not seem impossible, provided we actively strive for this change to occur. Since patriarchy is at the core of the media, and the media largely shapes our perception of the world, the solution is clear: increase awareness, get both men and women involved, and get rid of patriarchy.

Works Cited

Douglas, Susan. Where the Girls Are. 1995 hooks, bell. Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics. South End Press, 2000. hooks, bell. The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love. 2004. Joyce, Kathryn. Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement. 2008. Judd, Ashley. Untitled. The Daily Beast. April 28, 2012. April 11, 2012. <http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/09/ashley-judd-slaps-media-in-the-face-forspeculation-over-her-puffy-appearance.html>