Think most of the misogyny on MTV comes from men? Guess again, says a new study of the network’s shows, which finds women engage in a whopping 88 percent of the shows’ sexual dialogue, insult each other much more than the men, and offer themselves up in positive portrayals only when they’re talking about physical appearance and their ability to bounce back from getting ridiculed.
Television watchdog group The Parents Television Council (PTC) released its jaw-dropping report “Reality of MTV: Gender Portrayals on Reality TV” and the findings aren't pretty.
-- Only 24 percent of what females said about themselves was positive across all shows combined.
-- Positive dialogue between females focused on their appearance, sense of accomplishment and emotional resilience.
-- While terms men used for each other were often viewed as complimentary (e.g., big man, dawg, superhero, McGyver, winner), women used far more degrading language when talking about other females (e.g., rodent, skank, trash bag, trick, ho and much worse).
-- Females talked about sex acts more than men, talked about sex more graphically than men, mentioned sexual body parts more than men, and talked about intercourse and foreplay more than men.
-- Although 88 percent of the sexual dialogue between females and males across all shows focused on intercourse and preliminary activities leading to intercourse, the topics of virginity (0.2 percent), contraceptives (1.4 percent) and STDs (2 percent) were only mentioned 4 percent of the time.
-- “Jersey Shore” made up 47 percent of the disparaging remarks (mostly coming from cast members Ronnie and Sammi) and 59 percent of the sexual references across all four shows.
“The most shocking finding – or at least the most disturbing – was the way the two genders spoke of themselves. The women were overwhelmingly more disparaging when speaking of themselves. With so much being invested and so much at stake in empowering one’s self, especially for girls, the overwhelming message from reality television targeted at teen girls is to be overly negative to yourself,” said PTC President Tim Winter. “After so many years of pursuing equality for women, our study suggests a glamorized, but grossly distorted view, of what it means to be feminine.”
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About Jim Liebelt
Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
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