Developing Media Literacy Skills to Challenge Television's Portrayal of Older Women

To be old in our society is to be devalued. To be old and female is to experience double oppression. This article reports on a study that examined how television both reinforces and resists the prevailing images of older women in Western society. Two randomly selected television rerun episodes of The Golden Girls were selected to use as a trigger event with members of a graduate course in Social Work with older adults at a major southeastern university. The study found that television reflects societal discourse about aging by providing unchallenged images of older women and their lives. Given the power of television, educators and gerontologists must teach students to develop critical thinking and media literacy skills that challenge and deconstruct television's images about older women and to advocate for new programming that reflects more accurate and diverse portrayals of older women.

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