Katha Pollitt's Impacts Of Female Role Models In The Media

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Grandmother, mother, daughter, sister, aunt: what does the future hold for the women of the world? In 1991 Katha Pollitt had that same question. In an article in The New York Times Pollitt expressed her concerns regarding female role models in the media for the younger generation. “Contemporary shows are either essentially all-male, like Garfield, or organized on what I call the Smurfette principle: a group of male buddies will be accented by a lone female, stereotypically defined” (as cited in Green & Lindsky, 2012, p. 546) Katha Pollitt argues that the television shows children are watching are predominantly male leads, thus leaving girls without suitable role models. But why does a role model for a girl have to be a woman? Over the 25…show more content…
Decades ago Katha Pollitt realized there were not enough women is the television industry and preschool aged children were the ones being effected the most. From Pollitt’s article the Smurfette principle was developed and spread worldwide. This principle has helped lead the way for women in the media, but has it been enough? In her dissertation about how female characters are represented in Hollywood, Reema Dutt (2013) points out that “Animated children’s films tend to focus on male characters, with females as ancillary accessories...” Young girls are the most impressionable at the preschool age, yet Hollywood allowed men to dominate the big screen for so many years. Dutt (2013) goes on to explain “This is particularly disappointing given the fact that these films target impressionable children, who are being fed normative and antiquated portrayals of women at a young age.” Pollitt’s outlook was not erroneous, however the differences in television between 1991 and 2016 are astounding. There are twenty three years between Pollitt’s article and Dutt’s dissertation and many aspects still hold true. Over those years there has been much headway made for women in television. According to a study in HuffPost Women Nina Bahadur (2012) reported that “…44.3 percent of females were gainfully employed — compared with 54.5 percent of…show more content…
In her blog Bolick (2011) stated that “I grew up watching both I love Lucy and The Honeymooners and even as a child I always wondered why the wives on these shows didn’t have to work.” Women in television shows decades ago mirrored the roles women played in society. Yet, women in society, although they have made major progressions towards equality they are still portrayed as the housewife. For the first time, America has a woman running for President of the United States. But parents think that children do not have suitable role models because of what they see on television. Does that fault fall on producers of television shows and movies? Or on the parent for allowing the children to watch those shows? Children look up to people in their immediate presence the most, imitating what they see and are accustomed to the most. With the changes in of roles in television, however, society is still noticing the unimportant things. During a recent study conducted by “The Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film” Lauzen (2016) stated that “Moviegoers were more likely to know the occupation of male characters than female characters…… In addition, moviegoers were much more likely to see male characters at work and actually working than female characters.” What this shows is that people have become so accustomed to the way society ‘used to be’ that they pay attention to the details

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