Examine how women in the late 1960s and beyond struggled in defining their identity according to Susan Douglas in Where the Girls Are:  Growing Up Female with The Mass Media.  Examine her...

Examine how women in the late 1960s and beyond struggled in defining their identity according to Susan Douglas in Where the Girls Are:  Growing Up Female with The Mass Media.  Examine her thoughts on the "double standard" that women faced.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of Douglas's points is that the media did a very good job in depicting women in a way whereby patriarchy was intrinsic to the message and women struggled with being able to formulate identities that reflected a whole person.  Douglas points to how women were depicted through song, television, and mass media messages that precludes a full and holistic notion of identity.  For example, Douglas makes the argument that the medis's depiction of the leaders of the ERA reflected a double standard.  Gloria Steinem was "adulated by a news media" that was more obsessed with her "hair and her legs than her ideas."  In contrast, Kate Millett was shown to be "grim, ball- busting ninja from hell" who "didn't wash her hair enough."  Steinem was constructed as a "feminist' whose aesthetic standards "met" the media's image, while Millett did not.  In Douglas's mind, this embodied the double standard that women have had to face in the shadow of feminism and patriarchy's response.  The advocacy for women has had to take place in a real that the media crafted in accordance to male standards or expectations.  

For Douglas, this type of double standard exists in much of how women must sift through the notion of identity.  Each choice and construction of self is seen in the light of how men see women.  In cultural expressions such as television shows like "Bewitched" or "I Dream of Jeanie," women are shown to be agents of action, but their powers are deemed "wrong" or "not needed" by incompetent men who could not even begin to grasp the true nature of their power.  Darrin and the Major don't stand a chance to Samantha or Jeanie.  Yet, the double standard that women faced even in this cultural depiction is one in which agency and autonomy are secondary to male control.  Douglas even points this standard out in music, such as music from Groups like The Ronnettes and songs such as "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" as a statement towards sexual liberation.  In these notions, identity is a complex act of walking on a tightrope between individual desire and patriarchal control.  It is in this where the double standard exists for women that does not exist in as large of a degree for men.

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