During the early years of their lives children are required to (and do) learn how to behave in certain situations. Society holds certain expectations of males and females that embody a cluster of conceptions and beliefs about how each sex ought to behave in the way that they display their character and personality, and in how they should behave with other people (Gunter & McAleer, 1987). These expectations are regarded as stereotypes and are classificatory schemta that are used to organise and make sense of the environment. Children identify most with same-sex role models (Bandura, 1979). Sex role characteristics have been an area of extensive research since the 1950s, as they have a major impact on how individuals perceive themselves and others by limiting the roles with which males and females are encouraged or even permitted to play in life. Sex role expectations and/or self-labelling processes can influence social-interactions, occupation choices, achievement motivation and cognitive functioning in children (Macklin & Kolbe, 1984). Learning about gender and its implications begins early on, and is mediated by cognitive activity. Differences between cultures are often greater than the sex differences within a culture (Campbell, 1989).
Today Luisa Zissman,a finalist in tonights Apprentice tweeted:
“If page 3 is a bad role model for women is being a stay at home mum? Teaching girls 2 have no ambition and live off a man? Least pg3 earn £££”
It really reminded me of why I am against Page 3. It’s not even so much the women having a “choice” as to whether or not they want to make money this way – it’s about the message they are sending out to young, vulnerable children. It also made me think about the value of the stay at home mum.
In the choices we make as women we act as role models and are influencing girls into what we are showing them they should be doing. Whether that is showing that is acceptable to take your clothes off for photographs on a cheap newspaper, or staying at home looking after your children. It is how we show that these roles are either positively or negatively rewarded that means that they are likely to be taken on by the future generations.
Do all Page 3 girls do the job out of choice? Has society promoted the idea of “if you’ve got it flaunt it” – is this better than teaching our children about love and saving your body for that someone special? Or are these just old-fashioned, out-of-date values? Is it because they feel that’s the only way they can be powerful independent women, or the very least the best way to start their journey – as opposed to doing their A-levels? Does society (largely by the media) says it is an acceptable quick way to make money?
Do we respect people who make a living by taking their clothes off: By both men and women? ). Does society see it as a career choice? Are they thought of in the same way as women who have gone on to be Doctors? (for example). Or is it a stepping stone to helping them further themselves – no different to working in McDonalds?
By calling Page 3 girls “Glamour” models in itself means we are showing girls that this is a role to aspire to. Are there negative effects that can easily be seen when a child is exposed to this smiling picture in the newspaper? Is there a greater risk of drug addiction with the ability to earn more money with little respect? Even if the answer is yes, we wouldn’t be shown – it’s all about the “glamour” isn’t it? But if it is just glamour then can we then say it is “hard work” – which I’m sure it is, but that’s not the side shown to these vulnerable children.
There is a wealth of research into the negative effects of the way that body image is portrayed in the media – leading to problems such as eating disorders, depression and anxiety – in men as well as women. How will trying to be “perfect” physically affect how we feel about ourselves (self-confidence/self-esteem) and in turn affect our parenting? Does having Page 3 models in view of young children make girls want to grow up quicker, and desire to have A. bigger breasts, and B. men lusting over them? Is it sending out the message that actually this is the only way women have an advantage and power over men – using something they haven’t got?
Do we think it is morally right to show children that there is a “desired” body image? even if this is unachievable naturally (such as breast size)? Is there anything “wrong” with being a Stay at home mum? Is money the only important thing in life? The only way we can be ambitious?
And yes, maybe we should take a step back and look and see what is happening in other cultures: What effects are they having on their daughters. As well as looking back at our history – seeing how far we’ve come since we fought for rights for women.
In contrast do we value mums and dads who stay at home enough? Is society sending out the message about their importance? Or are they viewed as lazy and unambitious? Some women have to stay at home because there just isn’t the work to fit around their circumstances. Some want to be home to nurture their children. I stay at home because I feel I can best meet my sons’ needs (especially for those with disabilities). Yes other people COULD be there for them, but I don’t think they could do it like I do, and I am happy to do that. Because I have a PARTNERSHIP with my husband and, although he’d love to stay home, he goes out to work for us. I don’t depend on him, we work together. If I didn’t do what I did for him then he wouldn’t be able to do what he does for us (as a family). I’m not unambitious; I’m just doing a different role in a team. As for the £££s side of things – I actually save quite a bit of money by not going to work. I teach my children far more values than earning money – saving, caring, nurturing, looking after the environment, caring, not judging others – are just some. Other mums decide to work – and that is also fine. Some dads decide to stay at home – are they unambitious?
In conclusion, I think it is unfair to judge one another. However, I do think that children should not be exposed to unrealistic ideals. Ideally I’d like to see Page 3 gone but if not then it should be moved to the top shelf, or at the very least there should be a variety of body images (male and female) in there. That the role of the Stay at home mum needs to be addressed so that children do not get this idea that mothers who do not work are not lazy, unambitious and spending their days solely in the kitchen.