Why Women are Being Oppressed by the Media Machine

Womens Issues

The United Boy’s Club of America: Oppressed by the Media Octopus


You know the stats. Men get paid a 40% premium over women’s salaries for the Exact. Same. Work. The glass ceiling has barely been cracked; women are still not promoted to management positions anywhere close to as often as men are. In fact, women hold only 16% of the top four positions under American CEOs. You can’t open a magazine or turn on the TV without seeing a women being dominated or objectified. Even little girls are being taught to self-objectify. And we STILL haven’t elected a female president. To wit, less than 20% of elected offices in America are held by women.

Clearly there’s work to do.

The United Boy’s Club of America: Oppressed by the Media Octopus

Historically, when an oppressed group wants to enact change, their oppressors manipulate them into believing that the change is done, even when it’s barely begun. Or they convince them that their oppression is really liberation (as is the case with self-objectification).

Ninety percent of the media in America is owned by six squid-like corporations with men at the helm.

The United Boy’s Club of America: Oppressed by the Media Octopus

In the case of women in America, the more powerful group [men who own the media and run the government] are constantly trying to trick the public. They’re trying to convince us that A) we no longer need feminism, and B) our value is in the shape of our butt (or boobs, or face), rather than our ambitions. Why? Because A) they don’t want the full extent of their oppression to be publicly acknowledged, and B) they don’t want women to enter their control room and steal any of “their” power.

So they try to change the conversation.

They do their best to convince us that there’s no glass ceiling (“Look! Here’s a female CEO — see? It happens!”). They remind us that the change is not status quo, and if you participate in this fringe movement, you make yourself into a weird and unattractive outlier. They try to take the power of the movement away by distorting the meaning of feminism; changing it into a dirty word that women are afraid to be associated with.

And I’m not so sure that most people realize what a huge impact this octopus of a media machine has on pretty much every aspect of our lives. I can’t think of a more influential force in our everyday lives. Even the way people around you act is tainted by the media. Its tentacles are everywhere.

The United Boy’s Club of America: Oppressed by the Media Octopus

Wondering why they’d go to all this work? Men in power oppress women for several reasons:

  1. These men are sexist (similar to racism, they view women as inferior to them) and want control over women,
  2. Their ego enjoys the power and the game of oppressing,
  3. They don’t want women to get in the control room and shake things up, challenging their power and the status-quo they’ve carefully crafted,
  4. They want to run the world the way they see fit, without the challenge of other perspectives and opposing ethical viewpoints,
  5. The media’s income is largely based on advertising, and advertising is largely based on making women feel inferior and insecure, because that’s when women buy the most products.

Despite what we’ve been told, feminism is about equality. Contrary to the media’s misinformation, it’s not about domination over men. Quite the opposite — it’s an anti-domination movement.

The United Boy’s Club of America: Oppressed by the Media Octopus

Want to enact change? Step one is researching and knowing the issues; recognizing how you, and other women, are affected. We need to start calling out the manipulation. Step two is being proud to call yourself a feminist and talk about the issues. Step three is being consciously supportive of other women, and quashing the instinct to be competitive with each other. Step four is participating in local elections, and electing more women into office.


Read more in the ‘United Boys Club of America’ series:

Also, check out: Is Feminism a Dirty Word? and Is Feminism Still Relevant?

Join in the comments below and let us know which of these four steps you’ve taken!

A writer, artist and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.


  1. Erica S.

    Wow! Garbage! I am an auto mechanic and get paid way more than the men i work with. This is a real job you are all whining about CEO jobs. Ha wake up welcome to the real world! Also, I have received many scholarships for being a woman in an engineering field while in college.I have always been treated as equal, with respect, and only have been treated bad by women! I have had rude women make snide comments about my career choice, the way I raise my kids, the way I wear my hair, and bugging me about wearing make-up, blah blah blah the list goes on and on…. What I am trying to say is men aren’t the problem.

    Feminism? Sounds like your out of touch of reality.

  2. Jeff Ragan

    I read this article a couple of weeks ago, and I have been thinking about it ever since. What you describe is something I was totally oblivious to until now, but I’ve been noticing sexism everywhere now that I’m looking. I think more men need to be educated about this problem. It’s appalling that men’s magazines don’t write about sexism or feminist issues.

    • Jesus Garay

      cause most men dont care about that. also how have u been seeing sexism?

  3. Christina Brown

    You’re such a good fudging thinker. I have learned so much from you and you’re such an exciting thinker. You are able to put it into words so clearly and smoothly that I can’t help but agree with every point! Well done. Right! Raising awareness is more helpful than most readily available solutions. Thank you for writing this reminder.

  4. Rosemary Robles

    Hilary, YOU hit the nail on the head!! Well said and beautifully written! Thank you.

  5. Helen Franklin

    This is not only one of the best blog posts you’ve written, but one of the best I’ve read, ever. I think that the only demons man fights are those of his own making. We fight demons that are usually created by a male-dominated society. Women do not have to go to war to confront violence and brutality. We often experience it in our own homes. Men only experience it on a battlefield or at the bar when they’re already drunk.

  6. Helen Franklin

    This is not only one of the best blog posts you’ve written, but one of the best I’ve read, ever. I think that the only demons man fights are those of his own making. Women fight demons that are usually created by a male-dominated society. Women do not have to go to war to confront violence and brutality. We often experience it in our own homes. Men only experience it on a battlefield or at the bar when they’re already drunk.

  7. Delilah Peyton

    I’d like to add that just because women in America have it much better than women in most countries, does not mean that the battle for equality is over. We are oppressed, and not specifically by men, but the society. Women oppress other women too! Society seems to have a real fear of women who step outside the expectations boxing them in.

  8. Jenny Garett

    Thank you, your article is spot on; excellently put. I’ve been pondering this topic for the past years. I was conversing with somebody recently about the question of objectification and how it has evolved over time. I think that women objectify themselves too, and that is the start of the problem. Hilary, you opened up a whole new continent to consider with this post.

  9. Frances Seifert

    Oppression? We are absolutely oppressed, but not only by the media. Every day, in our daily lives, by the ordinary men we know, and we don’t know. Mensoring, manpacking, manterrogating, manspiration, mantroduction, sleep manpnea, mentoring, bropen-mouth chewing , mansulting, broplimenting, manslamming, manspreading… The list could go on forever.

    • Jesus Garay

      did u ever think the reason there are less female ceos is because more men chose to be ceos than women. why dont u complain about women also tking up space with there bags…..i call that womenspreading……..also women can get annoying alot.

  10. Kaitlyn Barrett

    There’s some silent oppression of women going on in the States, that most women are not even aware of! It is time for men to stand with us women and demand that half of our population is treated with the same respect and fairness that every man enjoys. Americans have much to be ashamed of, but mistreating us women and treating us like third class citizens has to be at the top of the shame list!

  11. Jennifer McSween

    It’s believed that us, US are privileged, and won our rights. Sure we did, and we have equal rights, but truth is men are still more priviliged and we are still mentally and socially being oppressed. Beauty standards, domestic violence and rape, double standards at workplaces are only a few of the problems we still face. The world is erelatively uninformed about the status of women in the US. Your article shows the truth about being a woman in the USA.

    • Jesus Garay

      what beauty standards? u can choose to lokk good or not… rape laws exist…domestic violence shelters exist….what double standards at work?

  12. Kimberly Thompson

    No such thing as equality! Nowhere in the world. Not even in America. They give us rights, but how can they give us rights when they don’t own us in the first places? Who are they to tell us what can or can’t do? Are we slaves? Do they own us? Equality is still an illusion in the year 2016.

    • Jesus Garay

      but u have it.

  13. Last week I came across a blog called “Women Against Feminism” that features many young women posting their radically misinformed reasons on why they are against feminism, believing that American women are not oppressed or that women should not overtake men. We are living in an era where women don’t know what feminism is. How can we expect the media to respect us and stop the opression, when our new generations can’t even see that we are oppressed?

    • Molly Twain

      How can people oppose a movement that simply wants to make the world a better place? Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be right now without it. We should sit down those young girls, and teach them what feminism really is, and how women are still being oppressed even in such a modern country like the United States! Because these girls are our future, and if they think they don’t need to fight for our rights, I’m scared to think what will become of women in the future…

    • Jesus Garay

      how exactly are u opressed……more men ceos cause more men want to be ceos.

  14. Lena Dzeko

    Most men might never actually rape a woman but they have raped our right to vote, our right to own our bodies, our right to self-determination, our right to our own voice and power, our right to safety from male violence, our right not to be less than we are so that men can be more than they are, our right to be powerful (without men complaining that our power robs them of their power) – the list goes on. Men need to do some reflecting on the history their own gender, instead of blaming feminism.

  15. Evelyn Sandler

    Feminism. Best word ever invented. Best movement ever established. Men do not want feminism because it forces them to look at what they are, how they have treated women and how they want to go on treating women. I am a feminist and wear the name with pride. I do not care that it rubs men the wrong way, they never cared how their actions affected women.

  16. Diana Hewitt

    Of course feminism is NOT a bad word. But it scares men, becaue they don’t understand what it stands for. Recently read an article from a man who says he stands for equality and women’s rights, but hates the word “Feminism”, and claims that the word should be “eqalism”, and if not, then there should be a “menisist” movement… I’m tired of men responding to feminism by saying they need their own movement. That’s not a need. That’s a want. You don’t get the idea to have a movement because someone else is already doing it. You get the idea for a movement because you’re in pain and your life is less quality than it should be because you’re oppressed. Something about which white heterosexual males in America know very little but often think they know a lot.

  17. The oppression of women in the American media has a long sorted history. omen have always been objectified in advertisements and entertainment. It has reduced women to being nothing more than objects to be won, prizes to be shown off, and playthings to be abused.

    • Sabrina Wellington

      Good point! Often times the models portrayed in these ads are not even whole. Pictures show only legs, torsos, or an open mouth with rouge lip color provocatively placed atop a glass bottle. This reduces women to collections of parts, something less than human. This objectification and sexploitation has changed the rules of society and along with it the attitudes of men and women have changed.

  18. Lana Urie

    The objectification and oppression of women is the oldest discrimination of the history. It’s been here long before the media existed. I think it’s as old as the first man that ever lived.

    It will always be an issue because men think with their penises. There’s no way to stop it. But we girls can stop it from affecting us, our lives, and our goals.

  19. Helena Stevens

    This is a fantastic article that will unfortunately be ignored by the men of the media, cause they don’t want to face facts. Media will do all sorts of unwanted publication but where its necessary it will not do anything.

    • Michelle Robbins

      Yes, definitely men from the media will ignore this! Media don’t care, they just want their publications to sell! Very bad!

  20. Betty O'Leary

    U.S. don’t have a perfectly fair society, but at least we have the right to try and improve it. In some countries women have practically no rights and get prison sentences or worse for objecting to the status quo. This oppression is dramatically greater than what we have over here, and locked-in by state support and cultural acceptance. As human beings we have a responsibility to at least notice the oppression, express our non-acceptance of it, and do whatever we can to shift the balance towards fairness.

    • Emily Wentz

      Oh yeah. They have it worse than us. We boycotted South Africa when blacks were treated as non equals but we are quite happy to play sport againnst countries where women are treated as inferiors such as all Muslim countries, Iran, Pakistan even India. Why don’t we refuse to play against countries where women are not even allowed to vote?

  21. Andrea Mitchell

    There is sexist oppression of both women and men in western countries. In the west we have relative freedom to protest what we see as discrimination/oppression. We also have a predominant view that such discrimination is wrong and should be fixed. We’re on the right track, but what we don’t yet have is consensus as to what is or isn’t discrimination.

  22. Sibel Jenkinson

    Of course media oppresses women big time! We are living in a world where it’s being discussed whether abortions should be illegalised or not… How can they decide what we want to do with our bodies?

  23. Wow, Hilary! You just challenged the status quo and influenced your readers’ thinking! You really are committed to making a difference! Great job!

  24. Marina Henderson

    Splendid article, Hilary! It reminded me of Dr. Gail Dines and her thoughts on the same matter: “If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business.” Let’s not let men lead us to think that we have to be what they want us to be!

    • Francis Woods

      Agree!!! We should STOP men from thinking that we are what they want us to be!!!

  25. I cannot deny the fact that women in the US are better than those in developing countries. However, prejudice against women here in the US remains an important problem — unequal pay for equal work, women being “raped,” battered or trafficked, and women continue to be underrepresented in government.

    I think I can see significant changes if these questions are answered:
    – Why aren’t women voting for women?
    – 51% of voters in this country are women, so why are there only less than 20% of women in Congress?

  26. Julia MacLean

    I do not think any girl should aspire to be Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin who had to ride some men’s coattails into a male power structure. Better role models are those female scholars who have brought women’s history to light and helped other women, socially minded entrepreneurs, conservationists, independent journalists and writers those who have done what makes them feel whole and happy rather than fit into a man’s lapels.

  27. Christina Norelli

    Kudos to you for writing this! The male-created and led industries that keep destroying women in so many ways. Beauty obsessions and practices prevent women from becoming whole human beings to the degree that men are able to.

  28. Thank you for writing inspirational article! I support feminism. I admire your courage for speaking the sad truth that women face. It’s high time that women start supporting other women!

  29. Andrea Schuener

    To achieve “full” equality, we need to destroy the source of oppression. There should be a match between social reforms and planned economy to have a society free of discrimination, and later on achieve equal treatment of all, whatever their sex, race or sexuality!

  30. Anne Dawson

    Fantastic article!!! I can’t even tell you how you caught my interest!!! As a woman, you’ve given me a positive mood, but I think men would react negatively to this article. Will a man admit that his ego enjoys the power and game of oppressing?! Hmmmm…

  31. Hannah Mayers

    Interesting article! We, women are constantly scrutinized by appearance, choice of words and body language. We are also being judged by who we spend our time with, personal habits, mannerisms at work and even in social settings. Well, it’s tough to be a woman!

    We should learn to “polish” our personal brand! Seek feedback and opinion from non-judgmental, trusted mentors and seriously consider their advice and take necessary steps to consistently amend personal brand…

  32. Michelle Luedtke

    It’s time to get real, women have been struggling in the workplace. Gender pay gap still exists. And… too few women reach their aspired executive levels.

    Well, I personally think that if women won’t allow media to objectify and “use” them, women will be looked at with more respect. If that happens, there will be success… in the workplace… even in politics!

  33. Wow! I’m impressed! Such a powerful writing! Sad but true, women face distinct gender barriers — politics or workplace. You’re right, knowing the issue is the key step to obtaining change!

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