The Problem

Materialism causes self-esteem problems regardless of whether the woman or girl is or is not materialistic.  When society dictates what makes a female beautiful, it creates a Catch-22 because the culture damages her self-concept by dictating what women and girls can and cannot do.  Thus, the lack of worth is multiplied for females because they are conflicted about whether to be their BeaYOUtiful selves or conform to social acceptance standards of beauty.  I chose this social issue because it is not acknowledged by any medium or any nation.  Therefore, social awareness is necessary in order to work toward a solution to this underground problem.

There is a discrepancy within certain occupations in the workforce between the number of men and women who are employed.  There has been improvement throughout the decades in balancing the gender employment gap; but, the chart below illustrates the areas society needs to continue progressing.

Table outlining the discrepancy in female wages compared to male wages in the same occupations.

OCCUPATION WAGE GAP Wage female earns in an occupation as a percentage of what a male earnings in the same occupation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sociological Evaluations

Symbolic Interactionist Perspective

This perspective hones in on the victim’s actions.  In this case, a woman’s desire to obtain an image through materialism that the media portrays as desirable.  Based on an Association for Consumer Research article, about object-subject interchangeability, “interchangeability in the form of materialism may be used to compensate for feelings of emotional deprivation, dependency, or lower self worth (Wachtel and Blatt 1990),” (Claxton, Murray 1994).  Clearly, these outcomes that result from materialism relates to the larger issue of gender stereotypes, specifically in the workforce.

Functionalist Perspective

This perspective focuses on the normality of materialism across society.  Based on the lifestyle-routine activity approach, women are falling into the trap of the media by purchasing material goods in excess.  Thus, this perspective argues that the woman’s illogical actions cause harm across society.  This is because part of society shares a relationship with others and how these aspects interact will result in function or dysfunction.

Four different shoes that symbolize excessive shopping

MY SHOE COLLECTION Four shoes that symbolize the trap of media for excessive shopping.

Conflict Perspective

Conflict theorists claim that society suffers from materialism due to the scarce resources.  It focuses on how the media and members of society who are among the elite and powerful, which is typically men, control every aspect of society.  The media will target women, who are viewed as weak and emotional, to sell material items because the media has been allowed to determine the laws of beauty.  With society’s accessibility to technology, the media has conditioned women how important being skinny is to being beautiful.

Measuring tape around Barbie doll's waist symbolizes unrealistic proportions.

BARBIE’S HIPS DON’T LIE Society has been conditioned about what beauty is to the point where toys reflect unrealistic proportions.

Macro-level Perspective

Macro-level perspective discusses the future consequences if the actions of the media are not dealt with early on.  When women are deemed as inferior due to gender, it can lead to sexual abuse and objectification of women.  This is the case with sex trafficking.  According to a Lancet article on violence against women, the “rates of childhood sexual abuse of 7-36% for girls, and 3-29% for boys” where girls faced “1.5 to 3 times more sexual violence … than boys,” (Watts and Zimmerman 2002).  Thus, girls are conditioned that this behavior is acceptable and further perpetuates the abuse toward women.  In the same Lancet article, “there are no reliable statistics on the number of women and children who are trafficked.  Rough estimates suggest that 700,000 to 2 million women and girls are trafficked across international borders every year,” (Watts and Zimmerman 2002).  With the number of girls and women trafficked each year, it is clear that the consequences of the media’s materialistic deception effect the world.

Micro-level Perspective

Micro-level perspective looks at the effects on local communities.  When girls and women are removed from a peaceful community, the economic success shifts to a black market.  With the individualized interactions being disrupted, the overall function of society is lost.  Even though women’s roles in the workforce typically are not as prestigious as the men’s roles, every function, once lost, results in dysfunction and loss of economic prosperity in the community.

An image of several pie charts displaying the percentage of women employed compared to men.

PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN IN VARIOUS OCCUPATIONS The variation in the number of women hired in a career based upon the media’s depiction as feminine or masculine.

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