Values – Understanding Ourselves
25th September 2018
I found Tuesday’s lecture on values very engaging and I thought a lot more about how ‘people of colour’ are seen in today’s society based off of outdated ideas from our past, and also how women can be illustrated in the media, affecting people’s views towards women. I don’t think I realise how much of an influence the media has over our ideas until I give it some thought. I don’t even think I really pick up on the way certain characters are shown, or whether their character acts in a particular way because of their race or gender, until I really think about it. This makes it clear to me that the media can essentially shape a person’s mindset towards others if they aren’t aware that the character is playing a stereotype and that isn’t actually how everyone like them behaves.
In the past, black people were typically seen as less than the white man. They weren’t seen as capable human beings, and in the media they were used for amusement, for example, blackface, made to mock black people and portray them as laughable and inferior. This made me think about my own life and how racism can be embedded in us without us even knowing, not deliberately, but it definitely happens. You would think that racism wouldn’t be so present in our daily lives in this day and age, but during this presentation I was thinking about any misconceptions I have embedded in my mind, or anything that was demonstrated to me as a child, I then remembered that as a child I had my own toy that’s known as a ‘golliwog’. This was only about twelve years ago too. I wasn’t told the meaning behind it, and I wasn’t taught to believe that black people are at all inferior, however, looking back I don’t understand why I had the toy in the first place. Is it ok for children to have toys with racist meanings behind them if they don’t even understand the toy? Or could this possibly cause them to develop a racist mindset without them thinking about it. In this case I don’t feel my mind was affected by it, but I think it could work out differently for others, and the embedded racism we have in our society may never completely disappear.
The input about Emmett Till made me think about how deep racism is ingrained in society. This occurred in 1955, and 100,000 people actually seen the way in which Emmett had been beaten, yet it wasn’t enough for everyone to change their ways. I can’t understand how anyone can see white people as superior after seeing the result of that brutal attack. However, in 1963, eight years after Emmett Till’s death, it was still acceptable for people to be refused a job purely because of race, in 1993 Stephen Lawrence was brutally beaten to death in an attack which is believed to be racially motivated, and even this year, we have MPs in our own government that are sharing false, racist stories online about Muslims.
Even sexism is still commonly seen today, from my perspective I feel as if it’s not taken as seriously as racism is, I feel that more jokes are made about “women’s jobs” than topics that are seen as “real issues”, such as racism. This won’t be the case for everyone but I get the impression that some people think it’s acceptable to make jokes about people of a different gender but see it as wrong to make jokes about people of a different race. I think these two issues need to be made more equal so that everyone gets to do what they want to do in their lives, no matter who they are. I know of schools that have dress codes that state that boys can wear shorts above the knee but girls’ skirts have to be below the knee. I don’t see how that is fair at all, I don’t understand how the way someone dresses will affect their learning ability, but girls are expected to stick to it and not say anything.
I strongly believe that the majority of the blame for sexism is down to the media. It’s common in action films for example, that the main character is male and never asks anyone for help, but when a female character is introduced, she’s constantly looking to the male character for help and not doing anything other than following him around. In the first half on the 20th century too, women were shown in the media as only being there for their husbands, to cook food and tidy up around the house. This idea was in national papers, it was a genuine common mindset to have. It was seen as unsuccessful for a woman to grow up and not marry or have children. Even today I notice that when a girl says she doesn’t want children when she grows up, she isn’t listened to or she is told she’ll change her mind when she’s older, but when a girl says she does want children when she grows up, she is listened to and people think it’s great. I don’t understand why it’s still in us to think that women need to have children to be happy and successful in life, but I still feel that it’s the mindset of most people.
This lecture made me think a lot about how society view race and gender, and most importantly how they act towards people of a different race or gender to them. I understand that some ideas are embedded in us whether we like it or not, and that’s ok as long as we know they’re untrue and we don’t treat anyone differently because these beliefs. I think being aware of these embedded ideas and talking about them will hopefully allow us to move on from ingrained racism and sexism in today’s society.