Setting the Stage for Sexism

March 30, 2010 at 3:07 pm (Setting the Stage for Sexism)

Sexism is defined by the OED as “originally: the state or condition of belonging to the male or female sex; categorization or reference on the basis of sex (now rare); (in later use) prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex”.  The highlighted words show that sexism is an act that can be done against both men and women.  The media’s portrayal of different gender values creates sexism by shaping the gender roles our society values.  The following clip shows how the media shapes gender roles by slowly affecting the way people view the world and acceptable behaviors.  Films, like Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves show both boys and girls how they should view each other.  Masculine men should be valued for their strength and aggressive nature – while Femininity is viewed through domesticity and nurturing.  Furthermore, they inform the public on how to treat these genders.  If the valued sex fits into these molds they are part of the dominant culture.  In those instances, men can view women as objects of pleasure, to be looked at and acquired, while women can look at men as protectors and saviors.  They have the strength and power to take women out of their plight and make brides out of them.

Both Beauty and the Beast and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves promote gender ideals through the act of marriage.  In both these films, marriage is the central plot (Lieberman, 386), as Snow White is always wishing for her Price Charming to find her, Belle is reading romances about marriage and Princes.  And the Beast needs to find love in order to free himself from his curse.

Therefore, through marriage women gain a handsome Prince, a man that can financially support them and take them out of their plight.  In exchange, men receive their object of desire: a young, beautiful virgin to take care of their castle and produce healthy offspring with.

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