Let’s face it: we live in a time where media and digital communication are starting to dig their roots into the center of our world. This can be great in several ways - we can buy things without going to the store, we can look up a location and immediately know the directions, lose ourselves in the investment of characters in our favorite movies, and connect with anyone through a simple message, even if they’re thousands of miles away. However, as we partake in this electronic world, we are also opening ourselves up to receiving hundreds of messages a day - and not the text kind. Advertisements and movies send us messages about how to look, what to buy, and how to behave. We’re also being fed false messages about sex, consent, and relationships, and the messages that men and women get are rarely ever the same - in fact, a lot of the messages are quite opposite from each other.
Girls - you sleep around? Whore!
Guys - you sleep around? Legend!
Several movies portray this horrendous and common double standard. Movies like She’s The Man praise men for “getting with” multiple women. Let’s not forget the iconic scene where Sebastian (really his twin sister dressed up as him) tries to impress new guy friends by convincing some of her friends to pretend like they dated her. She (dressed up as he) is immediately put up on a pedestal. However, in Easy A, Olive tries to convince the school that she’s not a virgin and immediately earns the ‘slut’ title. This misconception puts restrictions on women and their sexuality, and creates a dangerous slut-shaming environment, encouraging them to stay silent about their experiences with sex.
Guys - catcall. She loves it and takes it as a compliment.
Girls - accept the catcall. It shouldn’t make you uncomfortable. It’s really sweet!
Several movies and TV shows portray the act of catcalling - Grease and Pepe Le Pew, just to name a few. The idea that girls take it as a compliment is a huge myth. In fact, one girl decided to fight this misconception by creating an Instagram account where she took pictures with her catcallers, demonstrating that catcalling is a problem that all women deal with, and don’t like. Her account sparked fire across Instagram, creating the #dearcatcallers tag.
Girls - if you want a guy’s attention, show some skin or wear tight clothes.
Guys - if she’s dressing up, she’s asking for it.
Even children’s movies like Scooby Doo 2 show the relevance of women dressing a certain way in order to get a man’s attention. Movies like Project X send the message that if a girl takes her top off, she’s automatically asking for it. In reality, just because a girl dresses a certain way doesn’t mean she’s asking for validation, sexual attention, or anything else. Clothing is clothing, not permission or an attention magnet.
Guys - the ladies like dominance and assertiveness.
Girls - be submissive; he likes that.
Dolce & Gabbana's gang rape ad is the epitome of this misconception. In this photo, a half-clothed model is laying on the ground, pinned down by a man surrounded by his four friends. This screams male dominance, female submission. This message can be dangerously misleading, encouraging men to be aggressive and encouraging women to stay silent despite their discomfort.
These are only a few of the misconceptions the media sends us every day. With that being said, it’s important to pay attention to the messages we are receiving about sex and consent. What we see in TV and movies are not always how consent and relationships work. A woman sleeping around doesn’t make her a slut; a man sleeping around doesn’t make him a legend. Catcalling isn’t a compliment - it’s street harassment. Clothes don’t give anyone a green light for sex or attention, and women aren’t always fans of extreme dominance. It’s important to be aware of the messages we are being fed, and remember that reality doesn’t always match what’s on the screen.