In light of March 8 being International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate women and to bring awareness to women’s struggles, one might look at reality shows, brimming with women, to see what they’re doing to celebrate.
But there’s nothing to out of the ordinary in reality TV shows this week. Some guy who swapped wives is a jerk. Sharon Osborne is being sued. The guy from The Bachelor is also a jerk.
Whether art imitates life or vice versa, if reality TV is really a reflection of our culture, our reality is grim. While many people intellectually know that it’s not reality, the marketing messages still worm their way into our subconscious, especially teens.
Stereotypes are reinforced. Guys are jerks. But that’s OK as long as they have a lot of money and are willing to marry you. Women, on the other hand, are beautiful gold diggers who backstab their sisters in order to win. Or, if women don’t fit into the beauty mold yet, there are shows that will carve up women until they look like Barbie dolls.
This sends a clear and distinct image to girls that their worth is tied up with their image. Education is irrelevant during these shows. The message conveyed is that women must get a rich guy if they want a fairy tale ending, and in order to win him from the other conniving bitches, you must be the skinniest and prettiest no matter how unhealthy and homogenized.
According to the South Carolina Department of Mental Heath, 8 million Americans suffer from eating disorders. Most of them are young women who are anorexic or bulimic, both of which can be fatal.
Instead of reinforcing stereotypes, we need TV that creates role models for teens to look up to. There could be kind, funny, monogamous men and healthy, intelligent women who speak their minds rather than following producers’ cues. Camaraderie should be valued. Of course, without the scandals, no one would watch this.
It’s bad enough that women line up in casting calls for the chance to humiliate themselves on TV, but millions of viewers tune in for hours of brain numbing every day. That time could be better spent pursuing education or personal ambitions or following politics or trying to promote positive change.
That time would even be better spent on an intelligent TV show, if one can be found, that engages viewers’ minds. Watching people humiliate themselves should not be our idea of enjoyment.
Plus, it’s embarrassing for other countries to see Americans depicted as such superficial morons. We have only recently acquired a president who can deliver an intelligent speech. Yet, as millions of viewers can contest, we continue to degrade ourselves with people representing America who ought to be going to school rather than contending for some elusive prize.