The Media Against Violence

Violence can be found everywhere in American culture. We see it on the news, watch it in our movies, and relish the juicy tales of violence we hear in the tabloids. It’s also in video games, sports, music and even some styles of dance. America is definitely a culture that finds great entertainment value in violence, but do we promote violence against women?

In general, I do not feel that modern American culture promotes violence against women. Yes, it does exist in some places such as some types of video games or some genres of music, but there are so many facets of entertainment where violence against women is not only avoided, it is also stigmatized. Country music is a genre that does not generally promote violence against women. In fact, most country songs are incredibly sweet and romantic, giving women high expectations of how they should be treated. There are also country songs that bring up awareness of domestic violence such as Martina McBride’s songs “Independence Day” and “Broken Wing” that encourage women to feel empowered to get out of relationships that have violence. Music is not the only part of the entertainment industry that tries to make women feel empowered to stand up for themselves.

Movies probably did have more violence against women early on, but in recent years it is really hard to think of any movies that promote violence against women. When I think of violence against women in movies, I think of movies like Enough where a woman in an abusive relationship is able to get out and strengthen herself and protect herself against the man that is trying to hurt her. Even in the news, I feel I hear and read more stories about violence against men, children, or just large groups where no specific type of person is targeted. I don’t feel that violence against women is as prevalent as it used to be and I feel like it is because women are becoming more and more empowered and more people and companies are taking a stand against domestic violence.

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This is a very fantastic direction for American culture. The media should continue to be used in a positive manner. Women should know that they don’t have to stay in bad situations. Media also has a huge effect on Americans when it comes to defining what is normal and acceptable, so putting a stigma on abuse and violence is a positive way to use the power of the media.

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Investing in Pregnant Women

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As women joined the American work force, they fit into certain occupations, which are referred to as “pink collar” jobs. As time progressed, women began to branch out and be accepted into other occupational fields. The work that has been available for women has expanded in variety over the years. While the work opportunities have grown for women, there has still been much inequality between men and women in the workplace.

 

Women tend to make less money than men and can be perceived as weak, which affects the types of jobs that women will be hired for. Women can also experience sexual harassment within the workplace. The type of discrimination that I feel women face the most (at least when it is applicable to them) is pregnancy discrimination.

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One of the ways that it seems to be the most prevalent is also the hardest to prove. It is extremely hard for a woman to get hired if she is already pregnant. Honesty should be the best policy when searching for jobs, but in fact, it is unwise for a woman to disclose the fact that she is pregnant (assuming that she is not undoubtedly pregnant based on appearances). Maternity leave is a major reason that pregnant women are so unappealing to employers going through the hiring process. A pregnant woman is seen as a gamble; the employer puts time into training her and then has to find someone to replace her temporarily-plus she is seen as a flight risk because she may decide to quit her job in order to be a stay at home mother. Hiring pregnant women can also be a financial burden for a company that pays for maternity leave; not only is the employer paying the woman to be out for six(ish) weeks, but they are also paying for someone to be there in her place.

It seems to me that it is extremely unfair to not hire a woman based on the fact that she is pregnant. A man could never face that type of discrimination because they cannot become pregnant. Employers should begin to look at pregnant women in a different light. It is becoming more and more common for women to become single mothers or to be in a household where both parents need to work in order to support the family, which means that pregnant women should be seen as an investment. A pregnant woman obviously has a child to support, which means she has a very solid motive for keeping her job and wanting to work hard to earn raises/promotions. She needs stability as much as a company needs stable employees. A mother is likely to stay in a job as long as she can continue to support her family, whereas an employee who has no children is less likely to remain loyal to a company because they don’t have to worry about how their employment patterns affect the lives of people who depend on them to have an income.

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A person should be able to make any decision they want concerning their own body. This idea seems rational and seems to make sense in the context of modern American culture. Many people make decisions every day regarding their own bodies, even permanent decisions such as the decision to get a tattoo or piercings. Individuals make other choices such as what they consume, which includes dietary choices, whether or not to drink alcoholic beverages, and even smoking. Adults are making decisions about intimacy: when to be intimate, who to be intimate with, and whether or not to use protection. Decisions regarding reproductive rights fall right into this area of intimacy. Not so long ago, in the 1960’s, it was illegal to take birth control pills in many states. Things have changed drastically since then.

            Many of the examples listed above are decisions that many American take for granted and think of as an individual’s rights. One may judge another for the choices that they make, but these decisions are not generally brought into question in the legal world.  When it comes to reproductive rights, however, there has always been much debate. Although birth control pills were met with resistance when they were first introduced, they eventually became accepted and now they are a completely normal thing for young American women to take. It is now widely accepted for women to choose to not become pregnant.

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What happens if a woman becomes pregnant but does not want to have a baby? Is it her right to decide whether she becomes a mother or not? This is a highly debated and extremely grey moral area. This is an area where many people believe that another life is involved, which makes it not just a woman making a decision about her own body, but also making a decision for a person who has no voice of their own. Then there is a grey area about whether the growing fetus is actually considered a person or not, which leads to the question: at what point does life begin? Some people believe that life begins at conception, and there are varying answers that range all the way until the baby is actually born.

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 As a woman who has experienced motherhood and the love a mother has for a child, I cannot help but feel that my baby is alive as soon as it has a heartbeat. However, when I take a step back and look at things objectively, I know that if a woman goes into labor before she is 22 weeks pregnant, most doctors will not consider this a viable birth and medically it would be looked at as a miscarriage. At 22 weeks, the baby becomes viable for life and will be given a birth certificate, even if the baby only survives for a few short hours. This sets up a HUGE problem in trying to answer the question of when life begins. If a birth is not considered viable before 22 weeks, then wouldn’t an abortion at 20 weeks just be the equivalent of a forced miscarriage? That thought should be disturbing to everyone, but there are people who advocate late-term abortions.

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Personally, as I have grown older, my views on abortion have changed with experience. With all the experience that I have now, I hope that my views on abortion don’t need to change anytime soon. I work at a high school and I have heard many students say that they are against abortion, but I have not heard any say that they are for abortion. As far as I can remember, I felt the same way about abortion when I was that young. As I got older, I began to feel that a woman should have the right to choose, but then I spoke with multiple ladies who were terminating a pregnancy, but it wasn’t their first time. I spoke to one lady who had four abortions. It became shocking and appalling that in an age where birth control is so readily available, that people would choose to use abortion as birth control.

We live in a culture that attempts to educate young women and young men about the risks of sex, including pregnancy. Young men and women are encouraged to use contraceptives if they decide to be sexually active. When there is so much information available, it is hard to believe that anyone gets pregnant on “accident”. I do understand that in the heat of the moment a condom may be forgotten, and if the woman is not taking some form of birth control, this may lead to an unwanted pregnancy. I believe the woman should be allowed to decide that she does not want to continue the pregnancy, but then she needs to get on some form of birth control. The same person should not make the same “mistake” multiple times. Abortion should not be used as a form of birth control.

The biggest reason why I feel strongly that abortion should be available is for health reasons. Sometimes a pregnancy turns out to be unhealthy for the mother, so she has to terminate her pregnancy. This is actually a reason that is pretty widely accepted because it can lead to a life or death situation for the mother. This is not the same as when the unborn fetus is unhealthy, which I think is also a valid reason to terminate a pregnancy. A woman can find out that she is pregnant and feel so happy and so excited and go in to the doctor for a routine ultrasound and all it will take to shatter that woman’s world is just a look. The look on the tech’s face when she calls the doctor over to get a second look and the doctor tells an expecting mother that there is something wrong with her baby. They tell the mother the problem and give her some information in the office but they don’t try to sway decisions one way or another; they just give her the name of the defect and let her do her own research before making a decision. I do not think it would be fair to tell a woman that she cannot terminate her pregnancy when she just found out that her baby has a problem that is severe enough that there is a 90% chance of losing the baby. I don’t think it would be fair to tell that mother that she cannot choose to say goodbye to her baby now; to make her wait until she is farther along and more attached to the baby. That is emotional trauma that I don’t think a woman should be forced into going through and as long as abortion is legal, women won’t have to be forced into that trauma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertising: From Exploiting Women to Empowering Women

Before the 1920’s, major advertising was not prevalent in America. Since the rise of commercial advertising, advertisements have been used to make various statements about many things, including women. They have been used to tell how women should look, behave, or how men should expect them to look or behave. Examples of how women are portrayed in advertising can be found around every corner; on every billboard.

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This Van Heusen ad is an example of how women are viewed as less than a man. This ad shows that it is ok for a man to treat his wife like a servant. It shows women that they should worship their men and be obedient and attentive to their husband’s every need. It is an oppressive advertisement that encourages women to let themselves be treated as less than human-to be treated as objects and servants. It shows men that they should expect to get service in bed just because they own this “manly” tie that is meant to show their wives that men rule the world.

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This Wonderbra advertisement says a few different things. First, it teaches women and men alike that cooking is a necessary skill for women to possess. It shows cooking as a normal expectation to have of women. After establishing the importance of cooking, it then trumps cooking by implying that looks are more important than useful skills. The advertisement implies that women do not need to possess skills to attract men when they have a bra that pushes up their breasts and makes them “sexy” and appealing to men. It also implies that if a woman is “sexy” enough, she won’t need to “satisfy” her husband with food. This advertisement stresses that women should either be able to cook or be “sexy” in order to attract and keep a man. These should not be true things. A woman should be loved for who she is, not by how she looks or what skills she possesses.

 

More recently, some companies have gone a different direction in how they portray women in advertising. These companies have chosen to attempt to empower women and break down the oppressive ideas set forth by previous ad campaigns. Some do this by placing the women in their ads in dominating roles and switching the men in the ads to submissive roles. Other companies have achieved this by just encouraging women to embrace themselves.

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This advertisement contrasts greatly with the Van Heusen ad from before. In this billboard, the woman is in control of these men, who are being exploited. They are being walked on a leash while naked. It is a complete role reversal with the woman dominating the men and the men being displayed as sexual objects who can be bossed around.

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Dove has taken a different approach in empowering women in their advertising. Rather than empowering women by exploiting men, they empower women by showing them as being happy and confident in who they are. They embrace women by choosing models of all body types and all skin colors. They show them happy and carefree and emphasize the fact that these women are all beautiful and that beauty comes in many forms. Dove has taken an extremely positive route in advertising and I hope to see many more modern advertisers follow this path.

 

 

 

The Evolution of Mobile Phones: From Giant Cell Phones to Tiny Smart Phones

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The first cell phones came out in the 1980’s, and they were considered to be advanced technology. They were expensive and very rare to own when they first came out. By the 1990’s they were not as bulky, but were still uncommon, though not as rare. I remember that my family had one cell phone and it was used solely for traveling purposes. My dad purchased it because my mom was a Girl Scout leader and traveled frequently, so a cell phone was a nice thing to have in the event of an emergency. It wasn’t until we reached the new millennium that my family upgraded from having one cell phone to having three: one for each of my parents and one for my sister and I to share. The cell phone that my sister and I shared was only available to either of us if we were leaving the house and may need to call our parents.

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When I was a sophomore in high school in 2004, my sister and I finally got our own cell phones. We were ecstatic to get a flip phone-not even a camera phone-just a phone that flipped open and had a few pre-loaded background pictures.  Picture phones did exist by then, but were uncommon and kind of pricy. My first camera phone came about two years later, and I was excited! I could take pictures and they saved directly onto my phone. It was fantastic and completely new to me. Soon, phones started coming out that had internet access. By the time I got my hands on a phone with internet access (an LG enV touch, to be exact), smart phones were emerging- phones that not only had internet, but also had apps that you could download. At the time, I could not comprehend what an app was for or why you would need it. I had a phone with internet access and I was satisfied; I felt I could do anything I dreamed up on this phone because it had the internet.

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I did not long for a smart phone or think one was necessary, which was good because my dad had decided that when we upgraded our phones nobody could get one that required a data plan. The phone I already had required a data plan, so I had decided that I probably would not update. When we went to the store to pick out new phones, my mom decided to get a smart phone, and so we all ended up getting smart phones. Mine was an iPhone 4-it changed my life.

Was this change for the better or worse?

I finally figured out what an app is for and why most of them are more convenient than just using the browser for everything. I became addicted to all the games you play against your friends. I became a constant user of Facebook and with everything right at my fingertips, I joined other social networking sites. The convenience of anything I could dream of being right at my fingertips really drew me to my phone. But smart phones become a leash-you start to feel like you need to constantly check anything as soon as you get a notification. My boyfriend became jealous of the attention I give to my phone.

Smart phones are an addiction and I don’t believe that it is for the better. I think in most cases, people overuse them for all the wrong reasons and these communication devices have made us forget how to communicate. It’s a terrible irony. The sad thing is that I know I have a problem, and I have seen so many people that are more addicted than I am. I have seen what smart phones are doing to the younger generation. I work at a High School and almost all of the students have smart phones-they use them constantly. Because of cell phones, these high school students don’t even know how to use a text book. If they don’t know the answer, they give up in two minutes and say, “Can we google it?” There is rarely a textbook among a group of students, but always a cell phone-and always a student looking for a reason to pull it out so they can sneak a peek at their facebook feed.

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 It’s amazing to think of the giant leap we have taken from using mobile phones only when necessary to thinking it is necessary to use our mobile phones constantly.

Free Trade with Almost Free Labor

Globalization, in economic terms, is basically the interconnection among world economies. Countries have traded among each other for centuries, so there has been some amount of globalization going on for quite some time. With advancements in technology and communication methods, globalization has been able to occur at a more rapid rate. This sounds like a great thing, since trade among countries has become so easy.

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Is globalization actually a good thing? I feel that the answer to that falls into a gray area. It seems to really matter where you live and what your socioeconomic status is. If you are an investor in a Western country, you probably view globalization as a fantastic thing. Globalization allows investors and big companies to outsource their workers and have items made for dirt cheap by people in countries that lack labor laws and minimum wages. If outsourcing weren’t so easy, big companies would have to pay people at least minimum wage in order to have the same item made.

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On the other hand, if you are in a third world country, it is likely that you, or someone you know, is working very hard every day in order to produce items for leading companies. The people producing these items are making very small wages in return for their labor. They work hard producing items that they cannot afford to own for themselves. I cannot imagine that globalization is good for these people who are being exploited for the fact that they live in countries that lack labor laws. Globalization and outsourcing are not friends to these people.

What about the people who are not investors or higher ups in a corporation, but are also not poor laborers of a third world country? Is globalization a good or bad thing for them? Let’s look at lower and middle class Americans; there are certainly advantages as well as disadvantages for them. This easy trade has made it so that items can be made at very cheap prices, which means that the average American can own something that would cost much more if the company had paid someone minimum wage to produce it. This means that we can afford these items that we otherwise would not be able to afford, which is a nice luxury. However, with outsourcing, we lose job opportunities within our own country.

It seems that globalization is a different experience for everyone. For some it is bad, and others it is good, and it will continue to change with time. I would hope to see a change for the positive where universal labor laws are developed and exploitation becomes a thing of the past. Or where corporations become humanitarians and want to pay people what they deserve for their hard labor. Although these are unlikely to happen in my lifetime, I would feel satisfied knowing that globalization is somehow headed in this type of direction.

 

And this picture in spirit of the season:

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