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Media is powerful. It entertains, it teaches, it shocks, it sells. Youth are some of the biggest consumers of media and are often the targets of media messaging. How do we decide what is true and not true? How do we know what is simply entertainment and what is affecting the way we act and think?
We are bombarded daily with messages about sex, violence and power. Some messages are negative, some are positive, and some are mixed. Mixed messages are the trickiest; mixed messages are a combination of positive and negative messages. We can learn how to “read” the underlying messages we are getting. We can improve our media literacy.
How would you categorize these messages?
Because we have different values, we may have different opinions about which messages are positive, negative, and mixed.
Messages found by our youth team in magazines and music videos:
- Sex isn’t worth anything
- All relationships are heterosexual
- It’s okay to be different
- Women like men with money
- Bodies are sexy
- Guys can be just as insecure as girls
- In relationships, you should tease and make them want you
- The younger the better
- Penis size matters
- Weapons make guys sexy
- Glasses, braces, “defects” aren’t okay
Sex and Violence in the Media
Media producers want to create emotional impact. Sex and violence are the easiest ways to arouse feelings. Media is also used to sell us things. Sexy images and ideas entice us to buy products like cds, dvds, and going to movies. Do you think these images and ideas affect our ideas about sexuality, violence and power?
These messages can influence us if we don’t question them. Some media images and ideas can reinforce stereotypes, perpetuate myths about sex, and desensitize us to violence.
Think about it. Question it.
Don’t just buy into the pressure from media to conform.
Create your own meaning and ideas.
Media can also educate and create social change. Project Respect uses media to promote sexuality without violence. Our youth team has put on public events, created videos, posters, written articles, poetry and rap to get new ideas out into the world.
Create your own messages with media. Contact us and tell us what you’ve done in your community!