CULTURE DIGEST: MTV reality programs degrade women, study shows
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- Only 24 percent of what women said about themselves on four of MTV's most popular reality shows was positive, according to an analysis by the Parents Television Council.
"Jersey Shore," "Real World," "Teen Mom 2" and "16 and Pregnant" constitute the most popular primetime MTV shows among children and teens ages 12 to 17, and researchers said the study suggests "a disturbingly unrealistic portrayal of 'reality' with harsh, demeaning, degrading and sexualized dialogue."
"After many years of pursuing equality for women, the findings of today's study suggest a glamorized but grossly distorted view of what it means to be feminine," Tim Winter, the council's president, said Dec. 7.
"Compared to men, women were far more denigrating to themselves and other females. With so much at stake, teen-targeted reality television is doing little more than 'empowering' young girls to be overly negative."
Studies have shown a connection between children's media consumption and their behavior, Winter said, and Nielsen data prove teens are "flocking to MTV to get their fix of 'reality' programming."
"With MTV reality 'stars' as celebrity role models, teens are learning that outlandish behavior is rewarded and that degrading, sexualized language is not only accepted, it is encouraged," Winter said.
The version of reality presented by MTV lacks positive or inspiring content, he added, and the study reveals a discouraging assessment of progress for both men and women.
"Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi recently told GQ Magazine that the positive material in Jersey Shore is edited out of the broadcast version by the producers, and the appearance is that the cast members drink and party more than they actually do," Winter said. "Reality television isn't reality by the time the videotape emerges from the edit room.
"The saddest commentary is how ultimately these media themes and images serve to paint a very vivid picture of low expectations. The fear of setting low expectations for young girls and boys is that they may fulfill them," Winter said. "Television doesn't just provide entertainment; it instructs teens how they should look, feel, talk and behave. It's time we gave them something valuable to emulate."
For more information, visit parentstv.org.
MACY'S FIRES EMPLOYEE OVER TRANSGENDER CUSTOMER -- A Macy's department store in San Antonio fired an employee because she advised a man dressed as a woman not to use the women's fitting rooms.
Natalie Johnson noticed the man walking out of the women's fitting rooms and told him not to go in again because the rooms were reserved for women, according to Liberty Counsel, which is representing Johnson in a lawsuit against Macy's.
Though the man was wearing makeup and women's clothing, he clearly was a man, Johnson said. He was accompanied by five people, and the group began arguing with Johnson, using expletives and noting that Macy's is LGBT-friendly.
Johnson, in turn, told the group that Macy's also protects against religious discrimination and her religious convictions would not allow her to permit a man to use the women's fitting rooms.
The store manager insisted that Johnson comply with LGBT policies or lose her job, and then she was fired.
"Macy's policy which allows men to use the women's dressing room is fraught with problems," Mathew Staver, Liberty Counsel's founder and chairman, said Dec. 5. "This policy will cause significant problems and will alienate the majority of Macy's customers. Macy's has essentially opened women's dressing rooms to every man. The LGBT agenda has become the theater of the absurd."
MD. ABORTION CLINICS TO BE SUPERVISED -- In a first since Maryland's abortion law was approved in 1992, the state's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has proposed rules for the supervision of abortion clinics.
The regulations will place upon surgical abortion clinics requirements similar to those imposed now upon outpatient surgery centers, according to The Baltimore Sun.
The proposed rules, presented Dec. 2, will enable the health department to inspect and otherwise supervise abortion clinics. The rules include the following requirements:
-- Anesthesia must be administered by a qualified physician or nurse.
-- Personnel and equipment for life support must be present.
-- Clinics must apply for a license costing $1,500 every three years.
The department received input from both pro-life and pro-choice advocates, The Sun reported.
"I think the department has done an outstanding job at putting the health and safety of women first in these regulations," Nancy Paltell of the Maryland Catholic Conference said, according to the newspaper.
MAN ARRESTED FOR MURDER OF WOMAN WHO REFUSED ABORTION -- A Houston man has been charged with capital murder in the death of a pregnant woman who appeared to be the mother of his child, whom she refused to abort.
Joseph Devia, 19, was arrested Dec. 7 in Chicago at the request of Houston police, the Houston Chronicle reported. Devia had enlisted in the Navy and was in boot camp when he was arrested.
Devia was charged with murder in the August 2010 death of Omoyeme Obehi Erazua, 20, who was about three months pregnant when she was found dead, according to the Chronicle. She had been stabbed in the neck about 20 times. DNA testing appeared to indicate Devia was the father of the unborn boy.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach and Washington bureau chief Tom Strode.
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