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Women and Men (Doing Without Dad)

When I was fifteen years old my mother came to me to tell me my perfectly healthy father had passed away. I felt as if my whole world had fallen apart. How could a forty-five-year-old man die from a heart attack after exercising and watching his diet for his whole life? My father passed away leaving me, my two sisters and my mother to form new lives for ourselves. This loss changed my life forever.

I was always the daddy's-girl type who waited by the front door for my dad to come home every day from from work. We would go to the backyard and toss a ball around or hit golf balls. I was the son my father never had. In my eyes my father was not only my mentor and confidant, but my protector. With my father around I was able to sleep better at night. If my parents went out to dinner, I would stay awake up in my bed until I heard them come home. I felt a sense of security having my dad just a few feet a way. I knew if I was ever in trouble my dad would be there to protect me. I looked to my father as a safety net, not because he was a big man, but because of how television portrays the male sex.

Even today, men are still portrayed as the dominant, protector type on the television screen. Despite the fight for women's rights and the increase in women working, females are still not seen as equals. Growing up as a television addict, I modeled my beliefs after what I saw on television. I remember one time telling my dad that I wished he could be like the protective, Michael Brady type. Without my father around I felt unsafe and vulnerable. When my father passed away I had trouble sleeping for months. I forced my twin sister to sleep in my room so I could have some sense of security. I had an unsettling feeling thinking about how four women would survive without a man to protect them. We had no one to set an example for us. All of my parents' friends had the typical nuclear family and television made our situation worse. We had no one to model our lives after.

When I think about how television portrays gender roles, Seinfeld sticks out in my mind. Elaine is the perfect example of the 1990s working woman. But has there ever been an episode where Elaine is without a man? Of course not! Every week a different man enters her life to care for and protect her. This makes the 90s woman look weak and submissive. Because of shows like Seinfeld I believed for a very long time that a woman needed a man to protect her. This twisted mentality changed with the loss of my father. I learned from my mother's strength and ability to survive as a single mother. My mom has managed to hold down her teaching job while taking over my father's business. It is still difficult today to watch her come home from a day of work exhausted and worn out, but I see that mother has succeeded at what she does. She worked to send her twin daughters to college while her older daughter moved on to medical school. When my mom left me in my dorm room freshman year, I cried my eyes out. I did not cry because I did not want her leave me there, but because the thought of leaving her alone scared me to death.

My mother's strength has proved to me that there is not always an objective point of view behind television. Women can just as easily be the bread winners and the protectors of a family. My mother is one of the most amazing women I know. The past five years have been very hard on her, playing the role of both mother and father. But it has made me realize that women must seek out their goals in order to succeed. Although women have come a long way, we must realize there are many people out there that will not offer us the same opportunities as the average male. By portraying women as Little-House-on-the-Prairie types, television will destroy what women have fought for for many years.

Although the loss of my father was extremely difficult to deal with, I have become a stronger and more independent person as a result. I have set high goals for myself and have learned to question what I view on television. I look to television as a form of entertainment, not for an objective, honest opinion on life. I am too skeptical to believe in the way men and women are portrayed on television in the same way. As a citizen of The United States, I have chosen to enter the television industry after graduation. I would like to make a difference in the world by providing society with an honest approach to the gender roles of the United States. I do not know which aspect of television I would like to be in, but I hope to create a better representation of American women in the public eye.

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