Just a shoutout here about this link: Playboy promotes poor cultural image. It’s written by a young white man in a fraternity. You know, a member of the target audience elite. I realize Playboy isn’t film or TV (our usual topics on this site), but it’s so tied into the soft porn themes that invade our TV shows nightly that more than a few of his remarks seemed to apply to our general mission.
In the beginning of the course, nearly all of the participants held rather similar opinions on what was and was not harmful to women. Most of the group concurred that Playboy was in no way harmful and that societal expectations that imposed upon women a similar position or demeanor held relatively little reason for concern. Events that the group considered harmful, such as violence, were ones that were obviously wrong but since no member perpetrated such acts there was not an immediate sentiment of responsibility about the problem.
During the course of the class, we discussed “dominant stories” or ideas that are so pervasive within society that relatively few people even question their existence. These dominant stories included the machismo that men are supposed to embody and the idea that violence against women is a private problem. We analyzed how many of the ways men act towards women reinforce the idea of male dominance, from casual acts such as yelling out of a car to much more serious occurrences like physical violence.
From the coursework in the class, though, we learned that while we might not be violent against women, many of the actions that we participate in, without realizing it, result in a society that imperceptibly supports continued male dominance. It is this dominance which leads to violence against women and the continuation of a value system in which women must abide by certain rules that demarcates them as objects for men.
A main idea of the class was that as a “well-meaning man,” one cannot be a passive participant when noticing actions that contribute to this dynamic. Instead, one should strive to create an acknowledgement of the shared role of men in modifying the attitudes that lead to the objectification of women.
This is why I bothered to start a site about something as seemingly trivial as bad female TV/film characters: everything that reinforces the dominance perpetuates the problem. Perpetuates the excuses and rationalizations, the sense of entitlement and the sense of no consequences.