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Veiled Sexism in Media: Why Is Anything With a Mainly Female Fanbase Seen As ‘Bad’?

When I was little, I used to hang posters on my walls. I had pictures of the Jonas Brothers, then Justin Bieber and later on One Direction, which ended up being not only on my wall, but everywhere else in my life. However, no matter whose picture was hanging there, every time someone who was not a teenage girl visited my room, they would mock me for it. Eventually, I got used to hearing that I didn’t have good taste in music or even some homophobic “jokes” about my idols.

Many years after those artists’ peaks, situations like that are still very common. Paula Rinkieviej, a 17-year-old International Relations student, recently had an episode like that. “I was on a Facebook group and someone posted ‘comment the artist that you are listening to the most right now’ so I posted a picture of Harry Styles. Then one man wrote “I don't get the hype girls give to this guy. He literally writes music for girls since he was sixteen and they are all bad. Only girls like it”. After that, everyone was fighting in the comments and a lot of guys were supporting what he said”, she remembers.

Harry Styles, a former One Direction member, has released a critically acclaimed album late last year and has recently reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. So why do men and society as a whole still insist that is bad content? To Paula, this is directly related to the “sexism and misogyny that women suffer in everything they consume, like or wear”. She adds: “Everything that girls enjoy is underrated, especially when we are younger. Every girl has had an experience in which she fearlessly defended what she liked and there were boys mocking her for it. I always see content that young teenage girls enjoy being under valued as if it’s only made for them”.

Ana Lívia Lopes, 21 years old Social Sciences student, has created a podcast with two friends and they decided to talk about this depreciation on their Instagram (@podcastmaspq). About her own experience, she says: “There was a time when I had Twilight posters in my room and my friends thought it was lame and I remember asking them ‘but have you watched it?’ and the answer was always the same: ‘no, because it’s for girls, so it’s bad”.

Ana Lívia believes that every content that has a female appeal gets hated by society. This isn’t exclusive to the music or cinematic industry. Many TV show and even books have been underappreciated only for having a mainly female audience. It is easy to remember some examples such as Gossip Girl or Riverdale and books like The Fault in Our Stars and The Selection Series. More recently, K-Pop artists have been big victims of this prejudice.

“In a way, our society places men in the center of everything” says Ana Lívia. “Simone de Beauvoir, in her book “The Second Sex”, talks about how our entire world is ruled by men, especially the white straight ones and if you are not this man, you’re ‘the other’. So, everything is made for men, it´s cool to be a man and if you are not one, you are already wrong only for that” she explains.

14 years old student Valentina Lamarco reminds her experience watching the live-action version of Aladdin: “I remember loving the scene where Jasmine sings ‘Speechless’ and tells her father that she has right to decide her own life. But then I saw many comments from people saying that they did not like it and that Disney trying to make women empowered in their movies felt unnatural”. Therefore, it is clear that the problem is not about the content that is presented, but rather how society is taught to dislike anything that make young women happy, loved or empowered.

So, how do we change that? There is no immediate solution, but it’s starts with creating awareness about the sexism in media, talking about it as much as we can and raising well the next generations to know that every content has its value and that nothing is ever only for girls.

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The article above was edited by Anna Bastos.

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Julia Queiroz

Casper Libero '23

Soon to be journalist. Passionate about writing, telling stories and getting to know the world.
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