I, like millions of other NCIS fans, am preparing for the departure of long-time cast member Cote dePablo, who portrays Ziva David. For the past 8 years, Ziva David has been one of the most empowering female roles in television. A daughter of the Director of Mossad (Israeli Intelligence), she had to show her strength in her very first appearance in the series by choosing to shoot and kill her own brother instead of letting said brother kill Gibbs (the team leader). Throughout the course of the series, we saw Ziva grow and evolve from the generally anti-people assassin to strong, independent woman with a heart. She survived being kidnapped, countless injuries and explosions, and a car crash. Rarely, though, did we ever see her cry. That all changed in one of Cote dePablo’s most powerful performances of the series, when Ziva’s father was killed in a shooting.

Regardless of why Cote dePablo is leaving the show, One thing is certain: her character will go in the history books as one of the most empowering female characters of all time.

Miley, Miley, Miley…….

Well, I did not watch the VMAs this weekend. But as soon as I logged in to Facebook Monday morning, I knew that something had happened, as every other post was along the lines of [and I did ask people if I could quote them anonymously] “OMG MILEY CYRUS WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?!?!?!” “TRASHY DISGUSTING HOE BAG” “Slut who degrades herself and lowers the standards for every other woman. Sadly, this is what men want.” “I think it is sad that she feels that is all she has to offer, where the hell did she lose her self-respect, her self-esteem, and her personality?”{Those last two are personal favorites}
I found and clicked the video link, and was absolutely appalled. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I used to watch Hannah Montana with my younger cousins. This couldn’t possibly be Miley Cyrus! To my abject horror, it was.
This, I believe, just shows how the extreme oversexualization of women is expected in society. However, I do think there is a difference between the sexualization part (say, for example, a music video with scantily-clad women) and the degrading, demeaning, and honestly vile behavior that Miley showed. She is the same age as me, and that in itself is terrifying. Between the barely there outfit and the foam finger pointing towards—- well, you know, she objectified herself, and it’s just— eugh.
Is this what our society has come to? Showing young girls that dancing like a stripper and wearing close to nothing is the way to fame and popularity?
I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.

Sexual Assault In Television

As I was doing research for my paper (discussing the portrayals of women on police procedurals), I came across this quote:
“42% of [rape] storylines suggested that the rape victim wanted to be raped, 38% of the storylines suggested that the victim lied about the assault, and 46% of the storylines suggested that the victim had ‘asked for it’ in the way she dressed or acted.” (Kahlor & Morrison, 2007, p. 731)
This…… makes me so …. I don’t know…… I guess the word is angry, but I also feel disappointment. Women, who are victims, and know what it is like to be victimized, they don’t deserve to see what the media believes happened to them in a way that is completely untrue.

I do believe that, if shown as accurately and truthfully as possible, rape storylines could be beneficial to victims. One example that I can think of off the top of my head is the storyline involving Doctor Charlotte King in the show Private Practice. What made this portrayal so different is that it was realistic in terms of the aftermath of the rape. The show depicted how Charlotte was withdrawn, how she was afraid of her own fiancé, how she was ashamed about what happened to her, basically all of the mental effects rape has on a person’s psyche. In many cases, a character is raped, and then in the next episode, it was like nothing ever happened. In Private Practice, Charlotte took almost the entire season to get back to almost how she used to be before the rape. I say almost because, as with any trauma, there really is no “back to normal.”
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I myself have never been a victim of rape, but a friend of mine has. I showed her the quote and asked her opinion. This is what she said:
“Disgusting. I was raped. No one asks for it. It doesn’t matter what a girl wears rape is NON CONSENSUAL. No man has a right to take that from a woman. No means no. So many people accused me of lying and that makes my blood boil. To this day people still say it. I agree a rape storyline can be useful and raise awareness, helping some girls who maybe didn’t even know they were raped. The media portrayal of rape is a travesty and makes victims in the real world look the same as the characters, because let’s face it: that’s where society learns their behavior nowadays isn’t it? Only a select few people would ever lie about that, and there is no right for someone to say that of another. I was told I deserved it, that it was a punishment of God for my bisexuality, that I should savor it because it was the only sex I’d ever get, and the ever original, who would rape you?”
I cried. How could our society, which prides itself on its justice system, allow this to happen? How could it still be allowed in the media, when we know that in a lot of cases, these types of portrayals do more harm than good?

Kahlor, L. & Morrison, D. (2007). Television viewing and rape myth acceptance. Sex Roles, 56, 729-739. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

The N-Word in Mass Media

Recently, Oprah Winfrey did several interviews for her new movie The Butler. In many, she was asked what she thought about the n-word. Her overall response was that she doesn’t use the word and doesn’t want others using the word.
Oprah is arguably one of the most influential women in media today. Even if she wasn’t, her statements got me thinking. Is there really a right or wrong answer to whether the n-word should be used in media, if at all??
So, I went and posted a question about whether the n-word should be used in media on my various social media profiles, and got answers from people of all different ages, backgrounds, ethnicity, and countries. Here are some of their responses:
“No. I don’t think the n-word should be used on or off tv/music/film/etc. But, since the ones I hear use it most are Negro (to use the non-PC term) I think that it’s tie to end the double-standard. If you want to get all pissy about the word being used by a non-black person, then stop using it yourself…. It is supposed to be an offensive term, right? Or, if it is a ‘term of affection/solidarity/whatever,’ then I, a white-Catholic-conservative-female can also call you the n-word all day long. We’re all equal, right?”
“No it should not be used at all. It is hateful.”
“I don’t like it at all ever.”
“No. I don’t and won’t associate with people who use that word.”
“I don’t think it should be used at all. And what really pisses me off is that the black community will use it among themselves, but if someone else uses it, it’s WWIII. If it is a word that is offensive for some to use then it should be offensive for EVERYBODY to use.”
“I never say that word (I am half black) but I do think it should be used in movies where it is appropriate – like the new one with Oprah (I don’t know if they use it in that though). I cringe to hear it but if it was used in the time period the movie is set in then yes I think it should be used if the movie has racial issues.”
In my personal experience, I have only heard the n-word a few times. I think a lot of it has to do with upbringing and, quite frankly, age. Many people of the older generations (including my grandmother) use the n-word because that is what was acceptable while they were growing up (although my grandmother has made an effort to stop using it when I told her it upset my friend [who is black]).
I think in terms of historical movies, the n-word can be used. In fact, it SHOULD be used, to accurately portray the emotions of a certain time period.

Mothers in television – then and now

So I was looking through the article archives, and found this one from the end of July. Now, I didn’t recognize her at first, but I finally realized it was Mrs. Bink from 7th Heaven. I personally loved 7th Heaven as a kid, and so I found myself digging out the DVD set and watching a bunch of episodes. As I made my way through the series, I realized that Annie Camden was the stereotypical female role model: stay-at-home mom, raising 5 (later 7) kids, cooking and cleaning and doing the laundry, and being supportive of her husband, with little or no recognition.
Which made me think: Has that changed at all over the past few years after 7thHeaven ended? Have the role of mothers on television series evolved?
The short answer? Yes. Things definitely have changed. A prime example of this: Jennifer Jareau from the show Criminal Minds. She is a mother who works full-time (and often overtime) traveling across the country to catch serial killers. Her husband, Will, also works full-time (although his hours are more regular) and they have a nanny to provide childcare for their son.
It kind of makes you think about how mothers will be portrayed in the future…….