Essay, Research Paper: The Role Of Women In Television


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The role of women in television has had an impact important on humanity and on
life in America. The image of women in situation comedies has changed. Women in
our society have played many roles. During this period from the decades of the
1950's through the 1990's, women started getting their own jobs and got better
schooling. The roles of women as portrayed in popular American television have
changed from that of humiliating, degrading images to those of dignity and
respect. "The adolescent girl is confronted by a different set of
gender-role expectations and different socialization pressures (than boys). In
keeping with the traditional expectation that a female's ultimate goals are
marriage and motherhood rather than a career and independence, the prime
objective seems to be heterosexual attractiveness and popularity. As a result,
the adolescent girl's school experience may push her toward learning domestic or
secretarial jobs instead of orienting her toward a profession and the message
that she gets - from peers and parents - is that academic achievement may
lessen- her femininity" (source). In the series, the "Brady
Bunch", Carol Brady, cast as the role of the mother, is portrayed as a
person who dedicates her entire life to her family. Her activities are family
centered. It does not appear that she has employable skills, or that she would
choose to go into the work world. She is not portrayed as a decision- maker but
waits until her husband comes home to make decisions. Alice, a very strong
"maid" who virtually makes decisions about running the household,
supports her management of her home. A great emphasis is placed on Mrs. Brady's
physical attractiveness. "The American women of today can never be too thin
or too pretty. In most cases thin equates beauty, so the present ideal is a
thin, fit, radiantly healthy, young woman. In magazines stuffed with models and
advertisements, billboards on the highway, and actresses on TV, the message of
what women should look like is everywhere. The inescapable presence of these
images in effect shapes the image of women today" (Bowman, 1). It is very
true that even to this day there are still a set of "rules" for how to
be a girl or feminine. Wearing dresses and makeup and playing with dolls instead
of cars, because they are considered "masculine" are just a few
examples. On almost any television show there is always the good little wife
that waits until the husband comes home to make any important decisions. A
researcher on the subject of women in today's society states in his article
titled Women's Roles, "Depending on a woman's role or class in society, she
could be restricted or praised by her words and actions. As in almost any
civilization, money brings certain advantages, the greatest one of the
Renaissance times being education. The upper class women were taught that
silence towards and obligation to their husbands was considered proper.
Eloquence was equivalent to silence in the male frame of mind. Keeping with the
theme of male dominance, it has been said that women's attempt to rule is an act
of treason" (1). If you just sit down for a few minutes and really pay
attention to the show you are watching on television, you will notice what I am
talking about when I say that women have certain "roles" that they are
expected to play. On the typical show, you will notice there is always the wife
that sits at home and takes care of the children while the husband goes out to
work to earn the money for the family. The wife is expected to sit at home and
fold laundry while watching a soap opera, or to do the grocery shopping. There
are a few shows, however, that are a little different. I think a good example of
one of the not quite so normal shows is the series "Home Improvement".
In contrast to the series the "Brady Bunch", the series "Home
Improvement" has a mother, Jill, who is not only strong, but also makes all
the decisions of the household. Not only is she a full time mother, but she is
also going to college to get a degree. Between raising a family and doing school
work there is not a lot of time for her to "fuss" with herself about
hair or makeup. She looks like a real mother. Not someone who is in a salon 24
hours a day! Compared to Mrs. Brady's portrayal, the mother is a powerful and
hard working mother for both her boys and her husband. She portrays the major
influence that working women have on American society today. Many things have
changed in society, even since 1980. Women are getting out and getting college
degrees, going to work, and not to do secretarial jobs. There are many women
that are doing so called "men's jobs", and they aren't afraid to do
it! Girls are no longer taught to "stay at home, to sit and play quietly,
while boys are taught to go out, take things apart, put them together and move
things around" (Bruning, 3). The focus on women on television has changed
since the 1950's, giving women more powerful images. Today, in the 1990's, women
have shown that their standards are for excellence in both work and the home.
Educational background is more important than sex appeal. Indeed, the image of
women is portrayed in television since the 1950's has improved to one of dignity
and respect.
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