HOMOphobia & Sexism: Brainwashing

Brainwashing. What does it mean?
Make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure. “the organization could brainwash young people”  

Synonyms: indoctrinate, condition, reeducate, persuade, influence, propagandize, inculcate

Brainwashing has been around as long as we have. It started as soon as we learned how to communicate.  I won’t bore you with a history lesson here but the best way I summarize is that throughout history, man has chosen what is communicated/shared and how.  As we all know, people are known for twisting the “truth” as stories are passed on throughout time.  The simple game of telephone is the best way to demonstrate how stories can change from person to person through interpretation.  This is a truly simple principal…right?  Then why do people take certain “stories” so seriously? They take them so seriously they base their entire lives around them.

We are exposed to someone else’s version of “normal” from the day we are born.

-An image of a baby on a bottle of baby shampoo. Is that an adorable white baby with blue eyes??

-A picture of a traditional (male/female) family on any type of product advertisement. Notice a few things here. 1. What does the family look like? Is the mom the one with the career or is the dad? What nationality is the family? What skin tone is the family? 2. Notice that the family is a heterosexual family. Yes, it is true that there are more heterosexual families than same-sex families BUT there are same-sex families out there.  If we went by the images of families that we have seen through our lives in advertisements, we wouldn’t know anything about same-sex families until much later in life.  The discussion around single parents and race is an entirely different (and somewhat similar) conversation.   

Those are just two small examples of the role media plays in defining gender roles & ideologies from the moment you are born.

Next, let’s examine gender roles.  How do we define what it means to be a male and female? Where do the ideas come from? For example, what makes pink a color for girls and blue a color for boys? Why are girls supposed to play house and boys play rough? Why is it ok for boys to get dirty when they are small but girls shouldn’t? Take a look at any toy commercial for kids and you’ll see gender roles defined right there and then. This trend continues throughout our lives.

Women are depicted as sex objects or just plain objects in ads no matter where you look. This has been the case since we invented advertisements. These ads are viewed by grown adults and by children. Children and adults identify their sense of self from these ads (whether it is intentional or not).

Take a look at this video.  It is AMAZING. It’s actually a project for a Women and Gender Studies class from the University of Saskatchewan.

Now onto men. What are the images of a man that come to mind when thinking about advertisements or media? Tough, macho, strong, dominating and rugged are a few words that come to mind. No matter what, the man is in control and on many occasions is controlling the woman. Male gender roles are communicated and stuffed down our throats just as much as female gender roles expect that men are typically objectified less than women.

Are we ready to discuss modern day advertisements and the “brilliance” of digitally enhanced images? Women and men are airbrushed to the point where they look like different people. Body parts are morphed to the point where it is un-human. We all know this yet we continue to obsess about how skinny or ripped the celebrity of the day is. The issue of self-identity is especially troubling when it comes to women and gay men. We obsess and obsess about our looks. WHY? Has anyone stopped for one second and thought about why? Is it because good looks are essentially a currency for us? We are not only holding ourselves to unattainable goals but we are wasting time, money and our energy on feeding the horrible cycle.

What does this all mean?  What if a boy/girl is growing up and doesn’t exhibit the traditional male/female characteristics that we are exposed to on a daily basis? He or she is typically ridiculed or shamed into feeling like he/she is less than.  Saddest of all, this ridicule and shame may come from his or her parents.  Take a moment to think about what that does to someone’s sense of self.  From my personal experience, I was CONSTANTLY told to act more manly as a child. I was told that I shouldn’t play with certain toys and that I should do more masculine things like play sports and not with dolls. I actually had a family member SCREAM at me once because he said I was “talking softly like a pussy” and that I had to “speak like a man and act tough!”Seriously. I can’t with these people.  Mind you this family member also hates all females, gays and is extremely racist. If only I knew then what I know now, I would have told him to go f himself.  Sadly, I like many other children took the comments from the “authority” at the time and felt deep shame.

Question for you.  Where does being gay fit in to the ideologies that are shoved down our throats from day 1? Answer is it doesn’t fit. What would happen if Disney added a gay character to one of their children’s stories? Maybe a family that had two dads or two moms.  If you ask a conservative person they would tell you that this would corrupt and confuse children. Yet showing straight couples doesn’t confuse them (the gay ones at least)… If you ask an educated person that has actually done their research, they will tell you that it would do NOTHING to the child except educate them.

Take a moment to think about what it feels like for a child who cannot identify with any of the traditional or normal characteristics that have been defined by straight (and repressed) men many years ago.  To say the least, it is not a healthy foundation for positive self-esteem.  Now for the gay kids, add in the crippling fear that religion brings to the table. Not only are you not following traditional gender roles but you are also being told that the way you are is a sin.  This may be why LGBT children have an exponential increase in suicide, drug use and other self-destructive behaviors when compared to their heterosexual peers. THIS HAS GOT TO STOP. 

Ready for more?! Here is the source of all the crazy.  Check it out here!

Want to take a look at some really funny/sad ads? Take a look!


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  1. 11-year-old boy attempts suicide after being bullied | That's So Gay

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