Monday, November 12, 2007

Gender and Sexuality on Television

In MTV’s show “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila” we clearly see the differences in personality and behavior between males and females. This show is about a young, hot female, Tila, who is bisexual and looking for true love. She brings to her house “16 gorgeous straight men, and 16 hot lesbians”, hoping to find her perfect mate. It starts out as a friendly competition, which will end up in a serious battle of the sexes, where the contestants’ true personalities come out. For this assignment I have examined the first episode of the show, which is more than enough to gather enough differences of each sex, and how they are portrayed in the media. We can also see Tila’s interaction, with men as well as women, which adds an interesting touch to the show.

This show is full of stereotypes, and for such a reason, it is a great show to examine. A stereotype, as we read in Newman’s chapter 5 “Expressing Inequalities”, is “an oversimplified picture of the world, one that satisfies our need to see our social environment as a more understandable and manageable place than it really is”, (Newman, Ch.5). Stereotypes, are very resistant to change; once we hear them and see them in the media, they are stuck in our minds. Men have the masculine air to them, the strong, determined, cocky, sexual traits. On the other hand, women, are the sweet, considerate, and the delicate figures.

In the first part of the episode Tila brings in the 16 men, in which we see each and every stereotype we ever heard about men come to life. A major stereotype about men, is how they are way more into a girl for their physical appearance than for her personality. This becomes apparent when they first see Tila in the balcony, they become very physically attracted. They start going crazy saying how hot she is, and they begin to “have feelings for her”, without even crossing words with her. For example, Domenico, the goofy cast member from Milan, Italy gets all excited after one little kiss from Tila. He goes to say something like “After kissing her I felt a great deal of motion in my pants, it was like a third world war”. This is a perfect example, that shows you that men care more about the physical sense of the relationship, than the actual feelings. More stereotypes became more apparent as I kept watching. The men were extremely competitive, loud, and at times obnoxious. Men are also very pugnacious, which we come to see, when a fight breaks out within the first few days of being there. Ashley and Eric break out into a brawl after Eric goes and tells Tila a comment made amongst the guys. He was trying to make the other guys look bad, which shows that competitiveness runs in masculine blood. While men have all these stereotypes that hold true to their personality, women have their own, which the media has taken care of engraving into our minds.

In the second half of the episode, Tila brings in the 16 lesbians, to spend some time with. As soon as they walk in, even Tila mentions, the difference in the atmosphere. She says the girls just seem like so much more fun, and outgoing. This is very true, and it is a stereotype that is still proven to be true among many females. They always have a more free spirited and outgoing personality. They are much more delicate, sweet and sincere, than many of the men are. When they are spending their one on one time with Tila, they really put themselves out there, and share their true feelings with her. This is something that characterizes women, their sincerity and intimacy with their feelings. Some other stereotypes that are given to women, are the ones that Pozner uses in her piece “The Unreal World”. She says that in every reality show we have the same kinds of stereotypical girls. “There’s the ‘antagonizer’, who declares she’s ‘not here to make friends’; the ‘slut’ who plots to ‘take our connection to the next level’ and many more”, (Pozner, 98). We can clearly see each and every one of these characters in “A Shot at Love”. For example, Vanessa would be the antagonizer, Rebbeca would be the slut, and Ashli is the angel.

In this show as with many others, we are hit with many stereotypes which we hear repeated over and over again. The media takes into their hands the responsibility of portraying certain people in a certain way. When we think of masculinity we think of the men we see on television, as with women, we think of the women we see. Each sex has certain traits that apply to each, which makes them so unique. Although, not all stereotypes are always true, it is something that we just see so much of that we tend to agree with it, even though they may be wrong. It is this underlying power that the media has over us, that even if we don’t want to, we subconsciously agree with these stereotypes because they are so highly portrayed in the media.

Works Cited

1) Newman. Chapter 5.“Expressing Inequalities” Inequalities.
2) Pozner, Jennifer L. “The Unreal World”. Becoming a Woman in Our Society. 96-99.