[Op Ed] Reality TV may Damage Our Girls’ Future
1 year ago
Reality TV is redefining what it means to be a woman...and it isn't pretty
The views expressed in this Op-Ed do not reflect that of Loop 21.
Basketball Wives and Love and Hip-Hop are VH1’s highest-ranking shows. Every week, a group of women -- who are somehow associated with basketball players or rappers and ironically oftentimes not their wives -- discuss love, careers and failed relationships. Without fail, each episode involves a train wreck that can be hard to turn away from. But there’s also something else in these shows that I believe is providing far more than just entertainment: it is loosening the parameter of acceptable behavior for women in the eyes of young girls.
Fighting on reality television and the ratings game is par for the course. And while I’m certain that these woman are under the control of the network to a degree, I’m still waiting for someone, whether a network executive or onscreen character, to say, “No. Ladies, this is enough. Young women are watching this. We have power.”
They have power because entertainment has power. It’s the same vehicle that is keeping many people quiet while our government bickers, unemployment fluctuates, and human contact is replaced by text messaging and Facebook. We watch characters on our screens create illogical situations for themselves, then magically scramble their way out. It’s a voyeuristic escape to a world that we could never afford. It’s also a risky world, riddled with non-accountability, irascible personalities and lots of punches to the face. I often wonder what these women tell their daughters. “Mommy lost her cool on television. Yes, millions of people watched, but you must understand, when someone threatens you, throwing wine in their face, punching them, and issuing an oozie of curse words is sometimes your only option. Now, go and do your homework, sweetie.”
In a society where even educated women make 20% less than men, it’s crucial that we equip our daughters with more than catty comebacks. There are far-reaching consequences for actions in real life that reality television ignores. What are we teaching our girls when sex tapes and fighting brings fame and money? The average young woman will not have their intimate moments lead to fame and riches like Kim Kardashian. Instead, she will be labeled a whore, ostracized from her peers and fired from her job. She’ll face obstacles that require more than just looks and connections. She’ll be challenged to use her mind, to create a path of opportunity for herself, and to do this in a calm and mature manner. Throwing a drink in someone’s face when they say something she doesn’t like won’t be an option.