Maya K. Gordon discusses the judgement of the African American women by her appearance, how it works to attract men and leads to objectification. Write a paragraph explaining how the media contributes to objectification of African American Women.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Firstly, Gordon mentions in her study how Black girls are vulnerable to many of the same images in media that contribute to feelings of objectification in White girls—that is, they, too, are vulnerable to the same pressures to be physically attractive to boys and men with little to no attention paid to their personalities, achievements, or interests. However, most studies about the ways in which girls learn to have negative self-images focus on white girls. Gordon's study is unique for focusing solely on black girls.

Gordon found 176 Black girls between the ages of 13 to 17, culled from a predominately black high school in a suburban part of a large Midwestern city. Their parents' educational and economic backgrounds were mixed. Thus, Gordon's work is also unique for focusing on members of the Black middle-class, while many studies about Black youth tend to look only at low-income urbanites and use them as the standard for the community.

Gordon provided the girls with a list of well-known programs featuring African-American casts (e.g., The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Cosby Show) and asked how often they watched these program. They were then asked how often they listened to music and how much they listened to Black artists. She then asked them how important it was to be attractive. Did they think it was more important for girls than boys to be attractive? Did they think that a woman could use her looks to reap advantages?

Gordon's results found a connection between the ingestion of objectifying media images and girls' acceptance of attitudes that emphasize the importance of physical attractiveness. Furthermore, frequent exposure to Black music videos and stronger identification with Black female artists who emphasize sexuality in their public images contributed to this notion. Gordon also found that a girl's strong identification with the content in a music video or on a TV show, not merely exposure, would contribute to her sense of herself as a sex object.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team