When Boys Become Men

iyamail
Posted May 3, 2017 from Cameroon

Today, you don't need to go far to get bombarded with infotainment. Turn on the TV, switch on your phone and log into social media, information comes to us in every way. Movies, music videos, you name it.

What do these very important forms of art bring into our lives? How does the information we gain through the arts of the media influence our behaviours?

I was watching a music video recently and there was this scene of a beautiful girl whose hips were being ogled at by a guy in an exaggerated manner. The girl was an adult so she made a choice to dress in very tight clothes.

My point here is that the girl is being objectified.The intellect, the skills and the abilities of the girl are put on a backburner when such videos are seen as normal and those who are impressed by it try to live it like that in real life.

Young girls will see this and think "If I dress like that and behave that way I will have the attention of boys". The girl is being made an example of how girls see themselves and more disturbing, how boys see girls; a beautiful body and face period.

Everybody loves to be admired, even for their physical attributes but if those are the only things that matter about a person then I think we are not getting it right.

The problem is that these kinds of scenes are everywhere in the media and can be watched indiscriminately. What dothese teach young boys who are growing up into men? That a girl is only as worthy as her physical attributes? What about her brains, talents, etc?

What if the girl, having the beauty then thinks of herself as exempted from making the effort to excel in career and self-development and decides to depend on her physical looks to get ahead in life?

If we are gunning for equality in the sexes today we have to take into account these subtle messages the media sends to the new generation and raise our voices to cause change. Change in the perception of the girl, change by the empowerment of many girls who would then serve as examples of how a girl can be, change in the ideas that young boys grow up with.

How can we shift the spotlight from the physical attributes of females to their abilities? By dialogue, especially with regards to the youth.

I am a believer of the fact that the best way tostart change is by concentrating on the next generation, the youths.

When such a scene on TV comes up, how do you react? Simply engage in a dialogue with the teen or pre-teen around you, whether male or female.

Ask them what they honestly think about the way the girl is being depicted in the video and listen.

Ask them if they think it is right or what their views are and listen.

Then tell them what YOUR views are andhow it could be better.

Neglecting the things our boys are exposed to as "normal" will negatively influence how they subsequently behave as men. Women who are empowered and who are empowering themselves like us are the first agents of this change.

I envision the world where art in the form of movies, drama, books and music would be used as a means of change by affecting positively the thoughts and perceptions of the people who consume them.

How to Get Involved

Be a part of the change! Empower yourself with knowledge to empower others.

Thank you

This story was submitted in response to Art for Action.

Comments 9

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Jill Langhus
May 03, 2017
May 03, 2017

Hi Iya. Another powerful argument in this post... love it:) It had me pondering what is the best way to address the harmful effects of the media on us as well. I've been wondering about this for awhile, but I definitely agree that ignoring the problem isn't help anyone. At the very least we could be having more discussions with everyone about how they view it and how they think it affects what everyone thinks and how they behave as a result of it. It also raises the question in my mind about child pageants and objectification. I have a real problem with it. I even have problems with Facebook or other posts where children, or even infants, are wearing makeup. I don't have a problem with makeup, per se, but I don't think children or infants should be objectified in that way. I definitely think it gives out a very weird and disturbing line of thinking and potentially disturbing behavior associated with it. You can't say the infant, or even the child, chose to wear make up and be in these events. It's most likely driven by the parents who wanted them in the events in the first place.

iyamail
May 03, 2017
May 03, 2017

Hello Jill, 

Glad we see eye to eye on this idea of the media. It can be used for such good due to the influence it has, and rather than just go along with the tide and accept things we know don't seem right we can swim upstream against the tide to cause change. Difficult though it may be.

Child pageants are just a way of parents validating themselves through their children. When it is dress-up for fun, it's great but when there is competition and parents go to lengths to win the trophy, I am totally not okay with it.

Jill Langhus
May 03, 2017
May 03, 2017

Hey there. Agreed on both counts:-) Hope you're doing well.

Ese Ajuyah
May 03, 2017
May 03, 2017

Hello Iyamail,

I have always said achieving success in addressing issues related to women and girls is only possible when boys and men have a better perspective of the issues and are effectively engaged. I have also always had a problem with the objectification of the female gender in the media where women are restricted according to social definitions as sex objects. Silently this goes a long way in affecting how a girl defines and sees herself in the society. I think while so much efforts are going into empowering the female gender there is need for actions to shift the focus and mindset of men from viewing and interpreting women only through the lens of sexual objectification. Ese

iyamail
May 04, 2017
May 04, 2017

Thank you Ese for your wonderful insight, it is very true. Boys need to be feminist too and come along for the journey of women and girls owning their worth. We interact with men all day long and the way they treat us has an effect on how we value ourselves. If men can be educated on the need to see a woman as an equal and 360-degree person like them, then we are going to see wonderful changes.

The media is a powerful tool for that. It is a shame that most people in charge of the infotainment out there are out only for lucrative gains and don't consider the social cause that can be exploited with it.

Iya

inetmom
May 06, 2017
May 06, 2017

Hello Iya!  I loved your post.  Once at the grocery store, there was a magazine with headlines about the best sex and a woman posed in very few clothes.  I turned the magazine over as my son glanced at it and looked away.  I asked the manager how I was supposed to raise a boy with respectful attitudes toward women when his store participated in normalizing the objectification of women.  I had a number of women sign a petition agreeing with my opinion and we presented it to the store manager.  Several weeks later, the store put up covers over the magazines so you could see the title, but could choose whether or not to life the cover and view the rest.  Sometimes we must take control over those spaces where media tries to confront us.  Yes media is powerful, but so are women when they speak out together!!  My best wishes to you.  Tiffany

iyamail
May 09, 2017
May 09, 2017

Hi inetmom. It is great that you took responsibility to stand up to unconscious behavior that affects the younger generation. We all have a voice that we can use against what is wrong. You see, the media is a giant but since charity begins at home and we have the choice to select what makes it into our homes and minds then we can have these victories. You did well!

Iya

A slight change in direction today is worth a huge arc of change in the future

Suzanne-L
May 15, 2017
May 15, 2017

Hi Iya,

I agree with you 100%.  We discuss this regularly at the dinner table with our teen/pre-teen son and two daughters.  It is a conversation about the superficial components of looks, clothes, objects, etc. versus what people are really like underneath.  I am hopeful that by talking about it they will look at all of their peers in a more human way which will help them do a better job of picking friends.  

Suzanne

iyamail
May 15, 2017
May 15, 2017

Dialogue is always the best option when I comes to sex, body image and self esteem and also practicing what we stand for. I have a book for pre- teen girls about this that I am rounding up. An ebook. Will like for you to get a copy and read then if it's okay for your girls they can too.

I will contact you as soon as I am good and ready. Ok?

thanks a lot Susan

Iya

"A needlepoint change in direction today is worth a grand arc of change in the future"