Media and Popular Culture: A Catch-22

May 21, 2009 posted by admin

Mass media is the heart of many current debates; however, the nature of the media remains double-edged. On a positive side, blogging and other forms of on-line communication have become key aspects of today’s feminist outreach. On line gender related activism and strive for change challenge and supplement the mainstream media. For example, check out this post from Racialicious (fyi, the editor of this fantastic blog is one of our panelists):

“Early Friday morning in Tehran, 23-year-old Delara Darabi was executed in the Rasht prison in Iran for a crime that happened when she was 17. Human rights groups had 0been protesting and trying to save her from execution for months, since it is a violation of international law to execute anyone for a crime that occurred when they were a minor. Despite the protests, Iranian authorities executed her on Friday with no notice.
What is perhaps the saddest part of her story, however, is that the mainstream, traditional news media did not report the story at all. “

On the other hand, we continue to struggle with sexist media and Hollywood that promote old-school gender stereotypes.  For instance, how does the rise of “chick flicks” and “chick lit” reflect these conflicting trends? In just three short weeks, experts from the field of media and popular culture will discuss ways to create gender-inclusive mass media at NCRW’s Annual Conference. How can we harness the power of new media tools while uniting across generations? These experts are: Anne Zill, Center for Ethics in Action, University of New England; Laura Plybon, Girls Inc.Glennda Testone, Women’s Media Center ; and Latoya Peterson, Racialicious. For more information on the conference and how to register click here. Interested in leaving a footprint on the feminist discussion about pop-culture?

Submit your questions and comments here in the comments section. Your posted comments and questions will be addressed during the panel.  See you in June!

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Very interesting read, I think their would be a lot of mixed opinions on this. Love the theme that you are using, what is it?
While blogging and on-line communication are very positive and helpful things in terms of feminist outreach, I feel like today's media, and its impact, in terms of the mainstream, is overwhelmingly negative. From music videos to advertisements, we are seeing the sexualization, commodification, and objectification of women. I think that as long as profits of companies depend on keeping women feeling badly about themselves and striving for unattainable ideals in terms of their appearance, the mainstream media will reflect this in the various forms of its programming. While all feminists want to strive to provide women with alternative forms of media that are not negative, will it ever be possible to break into the mainstream when doing this might compromise what the largest corporations in America are striving for? Within this framework, how much of a difference can feminists make when sexist images are being thrown in the faces of women from the day they are born? Objectification theory states that women internalize these images from a young age, and by the time they reach the feminist blogs, self-objectification is too deep-rooted to be altered fully. When thinking about this, Oprah and the thin ideal always come to mind for me. The thin ideal is one of the strongest forms of sexism out there right now and she promotes this every day on her show. As a woman who has struggled because her body type does not fit naturally into the ideal that has been constructed by society, and also as a women who holds a great deal of power, why hasn't Oprah ever broken away from societal ideals and focused on health not appearance? Why hasn't she discovered feminism and started a campaign that does not glamorize the thin ideal for young women? Why doesn't she come out against the diet industry that is not about health, but profits, and which is trapping women in a cycle of disordered eating? Why do you tune into her show and many of the advertisements are about the latest diet products? Why does one of the most successful women in our society declare in her magazine that she is a “failure” because she gained weight? At the end of the day, it is hard to imagine even one of the most powerful women in the media today coming out against these harmful societal forces because she relies on money from advertisers. How can she ever promote non-sexist gender imagery when she relies on this money? Could she ever discontinue her promotion of harmful gender images within our current situation? Could anyone? What does it say about our culture when this treatment of women in the media is acceptable? What does this say about what it means to be a woman in our culture and how our culture defines success for us? What does this say about the state of sexism and how far feminism has come? Will happiness always be presented to us as gained from objectifying ourselves and being attractive, thin, sexy and appealing to men?
[...] I will be on a panel at the National Council For Research on Women conference about media and popular culture.  Lots to discuss there, so please register and stop by.   I’m eager to hear everyone thoughts and contributions.  Please leave a comment on our blog is there is something specific you want addressed.   To sign up for the conference, click here, and to get more information on this panel specifically, click here. [...]
What is the impact of celebrity journalism and celebrity culture on attitudes about motherhood? Are young girls feeling pressure to have babies?