I must admit, I watch the cocktail sipping, Range Rover driving and high end shopping of the Real Housewives franchise and the ridiculousness of Love and Hip Hop. But before you agree or disagree, let me explain why I watch these shows. I love the unscripted format of reality television because it displays exactly-not considering the editing-how the cast lives and behaves on a daily basis. As a psychologist, I can appreciate the fact that these individuals are not being given a piece of paper and being told what to say. They haven’t had a script and weeks to memorize lines and practice in the mirror. They are giving us as viewers the unfiltered versions of who they are. Now, those were the positives, on to the reasons why I absolutely loathe the women on reality television. My discontent with the women in reality television is based on my personal and cultural objective of empowering women. I don’t think that wearing expensive clothing, living in large homes, driving certain cars or engaging in public verbal or physical conflict with other people helps women to be the best “them” that they can be. In fact, there are three areas that simply make me cringe every time I see it occur.
Women have enough ways in which we already compare ourselves to other women, based on appearance, vocabulary, etc. Do we really need to add in cars and clothes? By and large, most people watch reality TV so that they can compare their lives to others. If the women on the show travel to Mexico on vacation, they can say that they aren’t doing so badly because they travel to Mexico too. If the relationships on the show consist of hitting, throwing drinks and spitting in faces, then they can say that their relationships aren’t so bad because they don’t include that type of physical conflict.
The relationships displayed on reality television serve as a comparison for the amounts of and type of conflict in their own relationships. Thus, if your template for a romantic relationship includes intense drama and instability, your own relationship dysfunction might not seem so bad, although it actually is very bad and unhealthy. If the type of relational drama on reality TV is what is normal for you, you may be less likely to accept the quieter form of satisfaction that comes with a committed relationship.
Shows like “The Bachelor” showcase a regressive view of relationships by allowing women to compete for a relationship and saying “pick me, pick me” in hopes that they are chosen by the bachelor. From the slut, the airhead, the backstabber, and the Angry Black women often portrayed, the type of behavior portrayed on reality television has set the feminist movement back at least 30 years! The objectification of women is both common and accepted. Women are objectified – this means we are seen from the outside and our thoughts and feelings are overlooked. The more recent waves on feminism focus on sexuality and family; however, the latest wave of Black feminism challenges racism and sexism directly. I can’t think of a better example of sexism than “The Bachelor.” Women shouldn’t have to be seen as a slut or an Angry Black woman to gain attention and ratings. Nor should any woman have to compete for the prize of becoming a man’s wife. Check out how one woman rejected the opportunity to showcase the Angry Black women stereotype. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/19/laverne-cox-girl-fight_n_4992454.html)
I hope that as women, we demand better programming regarding reality television so that our children will see various images of women on television and not just a few dysfunctional images.
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Last reviewed: 31 Jul 2014