When we watch television, do we see stereotypes and injustices occurring? In my class, CC 403 Mass Communication that I completed in the Fall 2010 semester, we were asked that question. I also learned a lot of information on how there are many effects from Mass Communication and the way technology has changed the life for people all around the world. In this class we also had the opportunity to discuss some of the injustices that are being shown now or have been on television. We were asked to select one topic such as race, gender, sex, politics etc and discuss some of the ways injustices or stereotypes have occurred on television. I found this topic to be unproblematic because right away I could think of many examples. Every single day on television I can see biased material targeted towards people’s races, sex, gender, sexual orientation and political opinions. I had to narrow my decision to only one choice so I decided to write my essay about the roles that women have played on television throughout the years. I will now discuss in some detail what I talked about it my essay.
In my essay I talked about the roles that women played on two popular television shows from the 50’s: I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners. In both of these shows the wives stayed home and played the role of the housewife. 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. I would see my mom leave for work every morning and when I watched the shows I just didn’t understand why my mom had to work. I grew up thinking that one day I would have to stay home and be a house wife; I thought it was the normal thing to do. I never once thought that I could grow up to be a lawyer, doctor or a teacher but as I grew up the shows I watched characterized women in a whole different light.
When I watch television or movies these days women are portrayed in a wide variety of roles. They play the roles of working single mothers, judges, police officers, nurses etc. One example is the show called “Judging Amy” (1999-2005). This show was about a mother who was a family court judge who lived with her mom and her daughter. There is a gigantic difference in the roles of the two mothers on I Love Lucy and Judging Amy. These two women were represented in totally different ways and their lifestyles were complete opposites. I think it is amazing the change that has occurred in the ways women are represented on television. I think both men and women can benefit from this change in the roles of women. Time has truly changed the ways in which women are represented. While completing my paper last semester, I gained the awareness of how women are sometimes portrayed and the changes that have occurred in society. I told myself that one day I will explain to my daughter the reasons why the women on certain shows in the 50’s were seen only as housewives. I will also inform her that she has the choice to be anything she wants to be in life. This goes for men and women, we must all choose the path that we want and not be persuaded by what we see of television. People must allow society to choose what represents them as an individual and not as a gender. This was a really amazing class and it really made me think about a lot of what is happening in the world around me.
Amy Bolick is a Communication and Culture major at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. She enjoys reading, traveling and writing. Her goal is to one day be an author of children’s books so she can educate children and teach them life lessons.