What Does it Mean to be Privileged?

In the documentary “Killing Us Softly 4” , the portal of women in print advertisements is heavily discussed as being unrealistic and inaccurate. These prints don’t accurately represent women of different races and sizes. Something I felt that the movie was fast to look over was that these print ads have a damaging affect on men as well. To think that these images of men with perfect bodies don’t cause men to have insecurities or feel under pressure to look a certain way as much as females is to cater into a general stereotype about men. In not acknowledging men as sensitive creatures who can just as easily be influenced by the media, we cater into a stereotype of men not giving into social pressure because of their assumed “tough” or “strong” character.  What assumptions than do we automatically make about gender even as we are critiquing it? As we try to understand these unfair images put forward by the media, do we also ask men to unfairly not be affected by these prints?

This brings into question on a larger scale what is privilege and how do we measure it? In our society, we assume that men, and white men at that, have an advantage because of their race and gender. In assuming this advantage, we also assume these men might not be as susceptible to things such as commercial advertising. Whereas it may be true that these men have not had to deal with the prejudices other minorities do, we must also not assume these privileges put them in a clear advantage when it comes to societal pressures.  If we don’t constantly ask ourselves as a society what it means to be privileged we risk making hasty untrue judgments.

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One Response to What Does it Mean to be Privileged?

  1. jocelynlc says:

    I agree with your assertions that the effect of advertising on the male side is just as detrimental as it is to women. Looking at almost any print ad today seems to highlight the same general themes. For example, this print ad for Armani Exchange depicts an extremely muscular man hovering over an attractive woman:

    Looking at this ad, it appears to not just say that only muscular men are attractive, but that only muscular men can get the ladies (the emphasis on heterosexuality is consistent throughout most ads). Rarely do we see less muscular or skinny men portrayed in these advertisements. Moreover, these ads uphold the notion that as a man, one should be dominant and confident in his actions and, most importantly, never show a weak side. Bell Hooks’ “dick-thing” masculinity finds applause in such ads (Hooks 110). By only being exposed to ads that uphold the stereotypical “man’s man,” it is not hard to imagine how other men feel pressured to fit into this tiny category despite the fact that so many other types exist outside of the advertising realm.

    Hooks, Bell. “Seduced by Violence No More.” 1994.

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