Last year a TV news story displayed footage of 2 Year 7 girls from a Perth high school hurling abuse at each other. Eventually the argument turned physical and punches were thrown. All the while, the combatants were being urged on by those around them, including the person filming. In this latest incident, we see yet another heartless attack by 3 teenage girls on a girl in Moe, Victoria. Once again the violence carried out, to the perpetrators at least, seems just the normal way of life.
Thankfully, such acts of violence by young girls is not the norm. However, such incidents are becoming more common. I regularly have parents ask me 'What is wrong with girls these days?' Among other things, my response often refers to what our young girls are watching on TV and what type of behaviour is being normalised. I get very frustrated at how 'Reality TV' shows in this country and overseas are portraying women. Also at how they appear to be driving their female 'stars' to act in certain ways in order to build ratings. Sadly, this usually sees 2 or more girls standing over each other, hurling abuse and pointing fingers whilst pushing and shoving. In many cases, violence then ensues and after a short while, someone steps in and they are pulled apart.
Afterwards we then see all cast members sitting in a row, expressing their side of the story, offering the obligatory condolences or simply denying they did anything wrong. They then all get up and move off to make-up and wardrobe, in preparation for the next scripted episode. The audience then get baited and enticed by clips from the next installment and ordered by the voice over person not to miss it. Viewers are then again glued to the screen, waiting for the next saucy battle. Directors and producers sit behind the camera, rubbing their hands together at how much money they are making whilst no doubt thinking, 'I can't believe people watch this crap!'
After their fix of abuse, bullying and cat fighting, viewers then turn on the news and watch stories of young girls fighting, stabbing and kicking each other, then shake their heads at how disgusting that behaviour is. On the morning shows, TV networks will have well respected woman discussing real world issues such as bullying, racial vilification and violence. Producers and executives will be applauded for addressing such confronting and powerful issues. But in reality, it is just a token address to those issues, because on the very same channel, that same evening the fists and high heels start flying again.
The Bachelor, Little Woman LA, RuPaul's Drag Race, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, ANTM, The Real Housewives (all of them!) and Bad Girl Club, the list is endless. All display and promote verbal and physical assault, threats, bullying and more importantly, our apparent 'role models' show no concern or responsibility for their behaviour nor respect for themselves or others. Is this what we want our young girls to learn as normal behaviour? Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of shows out there where the guys are just as bad or even more violent. The open portrayal and dare I say deliberate promotion of violence by either sex on television, is an issue that needs to be addressed by our media authorities.
But in my opinion there seems to be an increase in shows where woman are acting in such violent and aggressive ways and their popularity seems to be increasing. Whether it is coincidence or fact that we are also seeing more and more violent acts by young women against young woman in the real world, is yet to be determined. But I know what my thoughts are on the matter. Watching a 21 year old's boring day out and about fundraising for research into the cancer that stole her Dad, that Police Officer volunteering her own time in the Pilbara teaching Indigenous kids how to write or that Coach building strong, confident sportswomen in the AFLW, doesn't really make riveting TV though does it? But for me, that is 'reality'! Life is not rehearsed, it is not scripted. These are the women I know and the ones I look up to and are inspired by.
What I see on these shows used to seem so far from reality. Perhaps the onus is back on us to remind our young girls what we see on TV is not necessarily the real world. The positives they see in their mothers, sisters, grandmothers and friends is what will hopefully inspire them and their future daughters.