Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress conducted a study on the status of women, and some of the results find fault with the depiction of women in television today. Because so many of the female characters in popular shows like “House, M.D.” and “Grey’s Anatomy” have successful careers, Shriver and CAP have determined that women’s success is grossly over-represented on television today.
“Women’s professional success and financial status are significantly overrepresented in the mainstream media, suggesting that women indeed ‘have it all,’” the study says. What we see on television then are characters who “overrepresent how far women have in fact come in the workplace, underrepresent the kind of work most women do, and misrepresent how women can, and do, comport themselves on the job,” according to the report.
This is just the beginning. Get ready for a chunk of quotes that will help you understand why feminism gets a bad name.
If you spend anywhere near the 153 hours per month watching TV the average American does, according to A.C. Nielsen, you’re probably tuning in to a woman who holds one of five jobs: surgeon, lawyer, police lieutenant, district attorney or cable news pundit. The real top five jobs for women were, in first place, secretaries and administrative assistants, followed by registered nurses, elementary and middle school teachers, cashiers and retail salespersons, according to the Department of Labor’s 2008 statistics on women workers.
Surely this notion that television doesn’t accurately portray the real world only applies to women! Why, most of the men I know are surgeons and district attorneys and crime scene investigators!
So what’s the gold standard for an accurate protrayal of women? That would be “Roseanne.”
Much has been made of the idea that women’s physical images are driven toward unrealistic goals by the media, but Susan Douglas, author of the chapter of the Shriver report titled “Where have you gone, Roseanne Barr,” affirms the point made by the labor statistics and argues that the image of women’s success is misrepresented.
“It’s really about the media being funhouse mirrors, the wavy kind where you walk in and certain parts of your body are exaggerated and other parts disappear, that’s what’s happening here,” Douglas said. “The success of women, that they’ve made it to the top has been wildly magnified and exaggerated and the extent to which millions of women are still struggling to make ends meet, juggle work and family and doing so even with some sarcasm, the way ‘Roseanne’ did, that’s gone. When it’s not there on the screens of America, it’s easy to say, what do you mean, women, they’ve got it knocked?”
Okay. Let’s pretend most TV shows represented sarcastic struggling moms like “Roseanne.” You know what the findings would be? “Wah wah wah, there are no successful role models for women to emulate on TV!” I guaran-damn-TEE it.
Get bent, Susan Douglas. You too, Shriver.