Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Media is failing girls - a rant

This is the 96th anniversary of the death of Harriet Quimby. She was the first woman in the United States to get a pilot's license, in 1911. Before that, she was a journalist.

She died in a plane crash only a year later, in 1912... while flying a new plane in which something technical went wrong... a common occurrence in those days.

Aviation was a new field, and hundreds of men and dozens of women went into it. Whenever a man died, it was just, "one of those things." Whenever a woman died, it proved they weren't fit to pilot a plane, and should stay home "where they belonged.

(And of course, it was also other women as well as men who'd say this.)

Point is, this type of media coverage didn't stop other women from becoming pilots themselves. As proof, when the US Army sent out a call for women at the beginning of WWII, to serve their country as transport pilots, thousands of women pilots answered the call. (The WASP, and before them the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS)).

So tonight would have been a nice night for a TV show to make its debut, which featured a couple of female teenage characters whose goal was to become pilots, or even astronauts, and the drama could be because their friends would tease them for having such ambitions, and their boyfriends would dump them because they wanted to spend time with their planes instead of with their boyfriends, and the girls, instead of abandoning their dreams to make sure they didn't lose their boyfriends, let their boyfriends go because they had ambition, and knew that doing what was important to them was better than submitting to someone just because they needed a boyfriend.

Such a show could have perhaps inspired other girls to seek the best in themselves, to have ambition to be pilots, explorers, etc., first, and once they've achieved their goals, then get the boyfriend or the husband who'd complement their dreams.

But what do we get instead?

The Secret Life of the American Teenager, starring Molly Ringwald, in which a young girl - apparently 15 years old, gets pregnant, and of course decides to keep the baby. Question is... will it be the old-fashioned type of show, in which the boy does the "right thing" and marries her, so he can provide for the child, or will it be the new fashioned type of show, where the girl probably doens't even know the father's name, and will of course raise it herself, and agitate for higher welfare payments so she can afford to stick the baby in daycare while she continues to get an education....or will she forget the idea of getting an education altogether?

There was a similar show on a week or so ago, Girl, Positive, about a girl - presumably a straight one, who tests HIV Positive. I didn't watch it and wont watch it, but one wonders if the filmmakers made the point that if she'd worn a condom she might have been able to prevent acquiring the disease?

Teenage pregnancy has been a growing problem in the USA for decades. (Well, it's not just a USA problem, of course, but I'm just making my point specific to the USA, where girls have the ability to do anything they want...and yet all they want is the boyfriend and the baby...) Why is poverty growing in America? Because teenage moms can't work and take care of their babies at the same time, so they go on welfare. And because they don't have good educations they can't get jobs. So their baby grows up in the welfare atmosphere, thinking it's the most normal thing in the world for her, or him, to sit on their butts watching TV and not working while the government pays for everything.

And the media which bombards citizens with these types of messages 24 hours a day, are just as much to blame.

No comments: