Now is a very interesting time for women. Their image in the media, their progress regarding power and respect is ambiguous and conflicting. Over previous years progress has been made in certain areas. We are now seeing more and more women in greater positions of power such as Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook or Meg Whitman at HP. In 1981, women made up only 5.6 percent of the top one percent. In 2012 that figure was reported to be at 18.3 percent. Clearly, progress has been made here and women are gaining more and more power. Last year’s presidential election saw the first ever female candidate, Hilary Clinton, to make it to the penultimate position in the election race. Throughout the campaign, frequently brought up the topic of feminism, women in power, and women’s progress for equality were raised.
This also leads us to another interesting topic, Donald Trump. The man who was elected despite his less than fair remarks about harassing women leaked to the media. In response to his election, millions of women to the streets in cities across the world spoke out about his attitude towards women. Yet surprisingly 53% of white women voted for Trump. Regardless of race, this is a staggering amount considering the remarks he has made about women, which makes this whole situation so much more intriguing.
Politics aside, music and the arts has often been a space for great female empowerment. Although in recent years many self-proclaimed feminist artists have drummed up controversy regarding what is empowerment and what is purely media grabbing attention. Miley Cyrus is a prime example of this. Throughout her career, she has often made remarks such as, ‘I feel like I’m one of the biggest feminists in the world because I tell women to not be scared of anything’. This has divided women everywhere. Is she free and expressive or simply trying to grab headlines?
It can be a difficult time for young girls who are trying to discover their role and identity in this world. On top of this, there is also the added stress of conforming to the physical demands of what a woman should look like. Over the last 50-60 years, the female figure with movies and advertising has dramatically changed. More and more women are pictured as slim, beautiful and attractive. Evidence indicates this influence can lead to negative body image and low self-esteem which can lead to dangerous consequences. For example, one study found a positive correlation between media image and body image. With American girls aged 7-12, it was found that television exposure was a clear predictor for a thinner ideal body shape and a higher level of disordered eating one year later.
Among all this chaos, confusion and controversy it can be hard to know what to do or where to stand. However, you can make a difference if you feel that something needs to change. In November 2000, the Campbell Soup company launched many ads for a television campaign. In this 30 second TV ad young boys roughly aged around 9 or 10 offer girls of a similar age soup. The girls declined and said, they can’t accept as they are watching their weight. The boys respond, “lots of Campbell’s soups are low in calories”. The girls then accept the offer followed by the commentator announcing “Because over 30 savory Campbell’s soups have under 100 calories or 3 grams of fat or less per serving. So you can feel full on fewer calories”. This angered Joe Kelly who saw the ad and as a father felt he needed to say something. He contacted the company regarding its controversial message which implied young girls need to watch their weight. A few days later the Vice president of marketing and communications called Joe to inform him that he had read his letter, reviewed the ad and agreed with their point. Because of Joe’s actions, the ad was pulled. This may be a drop in the ocean but it is still important to remember you have the power to change things if you feel that something is wrong and you should always make your voice heard in. Within Business, Politics and the Media, women everywhere have made great strides towards equality, however, there is still a great deal of more work to be done.