Social and cultural features of society determine the behavior of the individual from an early age. The history of the development of American society in political and social terms shows that the struggle for women’s rights and efforts to achieve gender equality continues to this day. Young girls, adolescents, and adult women of different social statuses, races, sexual orientations, and other individual characteristics are under severe pressure from society. Consequently, laws, popular culture, and other factors influencing the younger generation create a society that can promote or combat violence in all its forms. Therefore, it is necessary to determine the foundations of American culture that educate and prepare young women for today’s harsh realities.
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Cultural Factors Affecting Women
Violence Against Young Women
Scientists argue that the American cultural system has different perceptions of men and women in civil society. However, regular violations of moral and ethical norms and stereotyping of women negatively affect their psychological, physical, and economic development as individuals. For instance, Moser and Cohen (1967) illustrate the abusive behavior of a man towards young girls in the context of Tucson’s Speedway culture in the mid-1960s. The brutal crimes committed by Charles Schmid were dictated not only by his problems and worldview but also by the city’s poor cultural life. Additionally, the protagonist’s tolerance for violence could have developed at an early age under the influence of physical abuse and the observation of cruelty in the media (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine [NCBI], 2018). Moreover, the overcrowding of educational institutions and the excessive employment of parents of Tucson’s young generation practically allowed them to act at their discretion.
The authors of the book also outlined the problem of identifying young women as the weaker sex, giving the example of a grieving mother who cannot reach law enforcement. In general, the book points to people’s tendency to unite around dubious informal leaders and to ineffective communication between young women and their parents, which has led to inevitable consequences. Accordingly, it indicates a lack of measures to combat violence and discrimination, which should be implemented by the government at the federal level and communities at the local level.
Perceived and Ideal Image of Young Women in America
The media is undoubtedly an essential part of the culture of civilized American society, which has the most significant impact on the formation of the worldview of the younger generation. Accordingly, the objectification and hypersexualization of women by popular magazines, television shows, and online publications lead to the emergence of gender stereotypes (Lips, 2017). Fashion magazines more often portray women in a sexual and vulnerable context, while images of men portray aggression and power. As a result, perfectly edited photographs of models cause young women to feel ashamed of certain features of their faces or bodies. In turn, stereotyping women’s appearance can also lead to depression, low self-esteem, and the emergence of dangerous diseases associated with eating disorders.
Unfortunately, it is the media that cover violence against young women in a trivialized tone and does not fulfill the educational role on the issue. This problem has been ignored for a long time, as young women who are exposed to violence experience severe emotional shock and rarely seek professional help themselves. Moreover, America’s population is very diverse ethnically, racially, and religiously, so certain women from social minorities may even be punished for allowing themselves to be abused. Therefore, the media’s broad coverage and the promotion of discussion of the acute problems concerning young women is a crucial awareness-raising issue.
Opponents Perspective on the Issue
On the other hand, there are quite popular opinions that represent opposing views on the impact of culture on young women’s lives and development. First of all, it is widely believed that training initiatives and the prevention of violence against young women implemented by NGOs successfully address the issue. However, constantly changing cultural trends among young people and the social environment as a whole, combined with insufficient funding for these projects, will not solve the problem completely.
Secondly, many researchers believe that women’s dissatisfaction related to the perception of their body is not provoked by the influence of the media, but is based on individual behavioral psychology. The main argument is that young women themselves should filter information flows and ignore the beauty standards stated by the media. They also argue that the situation has improved, as fashion shows invite plus size models. However, it does not prevent bullying and other forms of violence against young women, as there are currently only a few cases of such an inclusive policy.
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Although American culture is evolving toward gender equality, a progressive approach to education and the emergence of community initiatives to improve the situation, young women still face threats of violence and condemnation from others. Evidence shows that the young generation of girls is currently insufficiently prepared for the real world’s challenges. Therefore, popular culture must change towards the prevention of severe problems in the general well-being of the younger generation.
Lips, H. M. (2017). A new psychology of women: Gender, culture, and ethnicity. Waveland Press
Moser, D., & Cohen, J. (1967). The pied piper of Tucson. New American Library.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2018). Addressing the Social and Cultural Norms That Underlie the Acceptance of Violence. Web.