Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us" by Linda Christensen


I chose to focus on the main argument Christensen posed in this piece because the strong attitude she had regarding the images children are exposed to in cartoons and other forms of entertainment that are witnessed in everyday life. Linda Christensen argues is that the images we are exposed to growing up are designed to support the stereotypes woven into our society. Instead of using their influence to eradicate society's ideas of the ideal character, media executives prey on the insecurities that these stereotypes help mold. As Christensen explains, the stereotypes created by these images becomes engraved in our society's makeup and are virtually accepted as truth. Christensen asserts that "industrial produced fiction" (Dorfman) shapes how we act and how we feel. It forms our character. The repeated patterns of a dominant race, sex, body type, class, or nationality become subconsciously intertwined among everything else we hold as fact. As a result of these patterns, it becomes increasingly more difficult to distinguish between that which we have found to be the truth based on our own accord and that which has been unknowingly fed to us as the truth. Christensen explains that we must closely examine ourselves, our surroundings, and our upbringings in order to understand the extent to which these kinds of images shape our understanding of the world. Christensen also asserts that all types of persons must be represented throughout the images we are exposed to. For instance, she describes the story of Cindy Ellie as one that "celebrates the beauty, culture, and language of African Americans. It also puts forth the possibility of cross-race alliances for social change." What she explains here is that the images we expose our children to have the power to influence the way our society behaves and can uproot outdated and exclusionary norms. Christensen did not end her description of Cindy Ellie on a positive note though. She labels the story as one that promotes the notion that women have two options: "Happiness means getting a man, and transformation from wretched conditions can be achieved through consumption -- in this case, through new clothes and a new hairstyle." So while Christensen praises Cindy Ellie's usefulness as a tool to promote racial equality, she goes on to exemplify how many of the issues surrounding our culture's stereotypes are rather numerous and deep-rooted. In other words, Christensen's Cindy Ellie description represents how these are issues that cannot be eradicated quickly and easily. To conclude her argument, Christensen explains to the readers that, while it is easier to ignore the fact that all of our personality's are shaped by such far-removed sources, we must work toward exposing our children to images that are far more inclusive of all walks of life.

I was looking up new children's toys and books to get a feel for how things have changed since Christensen wrote this piece. I think much has changed, especially in respect to gender stereotypes. I came across the Let Toys Be Toys campaign on my search. The campaign strives to remove "Boy's" and "Girl's" labels from toys and books.

There's a lot of books nowadays (like this one) that challenge
traditional stereotypes that are commonly found within our society.

1 comment:

  1. i think you did a great job interpreting the argument that Christensen made, and i really enjoyed reading your post and your take on it