Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Media Moment: Gay "Conversion Therapy" Faces Test In Court

This piece was published at The New York Times. It fits perfectly the topic we were discussing today about the option vs. biological predisposition to homosexuality. It talks about gay men who went on a "life coaching" to reverse their homosexuality. Since this treatment did not work, some victims are suing the "therapists" across the country. Check it out:

Media Moment: Straight Men Respond to Gay Men

Given the topic of the upcoming class, I figured this would be fitting. College Humor recently had a comedic video about gay men threatening to marry straight men's girlfriends if their marriage rights weren't given. The video was a pretty big success. In response, Scotch Tape (small internet based media makers, I'm guessing) made this video, where straight men respond to the gay men from that video. 

The video is about how straight men encourage gay men to marry their girlfriends, because their girlfriends are huge chores that they just want to get rid of. 

The two top comments on youtube praise the video as comedic, telling others that it's meant to be sarcastic and satirical, and that they should therefore not take the video seriously. 

Just because something is sarcastic or satirical, does that make it automatically inoffensive? 
Does anyone find this video to be unapologetically stereotypical toward straight men, gay men, or women? Or all three? 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Response to Class Discussion - 11/14

When we left off class last (last) Wednesday, we were discussing U.S. intervention in other nations, and the cultural imperialism that generally comes along with it. The discussion took a turn at the end, and a couple of people suggested that either the U.S. should never take part in foreign affairs or that we should only intervene when U.S. interests are at stake. Both positions strike me as worrisome, but I especially want to talk about the former.

Becoming more aware of cultural imperialism and the ways in which hegemonic culture asserts dominance should not make us want to drop all involvement with things that are different/not the norm because the rules are blurry! This is actually the opposite of the desired effect, I think. For instance, as the violence and state-sponsored murders in Syria go on, we confront similar questions that were confronted by the international community during the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust (along with numerous other genocides). Will we really be able to look back and be glad that we simply didn't intervene, regardless of the loss of life?

What we should take, in my personal view, from all that we are studying is that intervention and aid, both financial and diplomatic, are complex issues but also things that are inevitable within the global community. We have to figure out how to navigate this map, not just abandon it completely. 

Media Moment: Nicki Minaj

I saw this clip a while ago and it really caught my attention, I thought of it again after reading part of the articles for this upcoming week’s discussion. Although this video does not directly relate to “Sexuality” I did think that it can be somewhat connected since it is sending a message to young women and what they should strive towards. On Ellen DeGeneres two young girls were brought on to the show because of the enormous attention they had gotten from their YouTube video, performing a cover of Nicki Minaj’s song “Super Bass” (video shown below). The two girls are from England, Sophia-Grace (8 years old) and Rosie (5 years old). Sophia-Grace is the one that sings the song while Rosie dances along on the side.  I guess Ellen DeGeneres took a liking to them because she has invited them back numerous times on the show. In the clip DeGeneres surprises the girls with Nicki Minaj since that is their favorite celebrity artist. The girls are then interviewed with Nicki, while Nicki gives them some of her own advice. (2 minutes into the clip)

The reason I found this clip disturbing is because I feel like it is sending the wrong message to young girls in multiple ways. I strongly believe that Nicki Minaj’s music is very degrading to women. Take for instance a verse from her song “Super Bass”:

He ain't even gotta try to put the mac on
He just gotta give me that look, when he give me that look
Then the panties comin' off, off, uh

The fact that these young girls idolize her is pretty crazy. I am not trying to say that as an artist she is not entertaining, but a lot of her music is very provocative, and for young girls at the age of 5 and 8 to know her music word for word (probably not knowing what half of it means) shows how much power music artists have over young kids. Personally I don’t think Nicki Minaj represents women in a positive light. Sure, she has money and fame, but I feel like she has had to stoop down so many levels morally to climb to a higher level success wise. I think she is the perfect example of how mainstream media loves to hyper sexualize women.  Nicki Minaj’s image is supposed to be portrayed as multiple personalities, but the portrayal of this “Barbie” image is one that shows up a lot. In the clip below she tells the girls that “don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t wear pink, pink will make you happy and make you strong…” This message to me is not liberating to women, in my opinion it only furthers the idea that gender is a social construct. Telling little girls that they should wear pink and be “princesses” is forcing little girls to think that being feminine is the only way girls will succeed in life.
1.       Do you think that Nicki Minaj is a good role model for young girls? And what kind of message is she sending out?
2.       Are there any other mainstream women rappers today that are representing women in a positive light?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Class Discussion Reflection from 11.14.12

The class on Middle Eastern women and their representation in the media was a very interesting one because it brought up a lot of things that I never thought about before. I know that Middle Eastern/ Muslim/ Arab people get discriminated against and stereotyped just as much as any other minority group if not more. Like discussed in class women in particular get represented as passive and silenced, but I feel like Middle Eastern women get represented as this more than any other group of women. I believe that this occurs because we see the veil as a hindrance and an object that silences these women.  As mentioned in class, a positive representation is hardly seen. Women of the Middle East are educated, fight for what they believe, and are outspoken this is something that is hardly represented.
The other thing that really stood out to me in class was the fact that may people in Western societies tend to group Muslim, Middle Eastern, and Arab together. That is why it was so surprising that the man in the documentary “Bad Arabs” only used the term “Arab” to describe the people in the film.  There were a couple of ideas that the man in the documentary brought up that really stood out to me, the idea that our country has engrained fear in people and made Middle Eastern/Arab/ and Muslims out to be “one type” of person, that is being associated with terroristic activities, only furthers the stereotype that already exists. There was a sentence that really stood out to me in the documentary and that is when the narrator said “…we have been pre conditioned that those innocent civilians are part of terrorist groups… automatically profiled”.

Lastly at the end of the class we spoke a bit about different shows that portray Middle Eastern people in the media, especially reality show and both “All-American Muslim” and “Shah’s of Sunset” came up. The interesting thing is that one of the shows was cancelled after the first season, while the other one is about to begin a second season. As mentioned in class, it would be interesting to try to find out why one show survived over the other.  Below I posted two short promos for both shows.    (Shah's Of Sunset)

(All-American Muslim)

Personally I have never watched either show, but judging from the promos the shows seem very different from each other. I believe that “All-American Muslim” shows a more realistic portrayal of “everyday life” for different Muslim- American families living in this country. While “Shah’s of Sunset” is a more “glamorized” portrayal of Persian-Americans living in California. My assumption would be that this show might have had higher demand because it is more “Americanized” and as discussed in class this show only further supports the hegemonic structure of the U.S.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Media Moment: 2 Chainz


Hey guys, it's Emily. I am sure most of you have heard this song, "Birthday Song" by 2 Chainz, one of the most popular songs right now. Though I knew the lyrics in the song are degrading to women ("All I want for my birthday is a big booty ho"), I recently watched the music video for it and it portrays the objectification of women and their bodies to an extreme. The women in the video are only shown with a close up on their shaking behinds. Towards the beginning, a woman is carrying a butt-shaped cake and the camera is focused only on the cake and her cleavage. When the camera finally follows 2 Chainz to the backyard of the birthday party, there are men wearing business suits lined up in chairs while random women in bikinis bounce on their laps in an sexual manner. Even though Kanye West's verse is degrading in itself (it is a plea to his girlfriend to allow them to have a threesome), his verse portrayed in the music video shows him riding a bicycle carrying a chariot-like structure surrounded by nameless woman, suggesting that these women are his slaves.
I think the worst part about the nature of 2 Chainz' music and this video is the fact that he is close to forty years old. He is not encouraging this behavior to younger people, like most rappers, but to older men. 2 Chainz is more than double the age of the women in the video and could easily be their father.

What are your reactions to the portrayal of women in this video?
Do you recall any other recent videos like this? (Post them!)
Is it the responsibility of the women hired in the videos to stop this degradation? If not, how can these depictions change in Hip Hop culture?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Class Reflection 11/14

We left off class on Wednesday with many people still wanting to participate, me included.  Last comment made was that the US should only intervene when the nations well being is at stake. I personally completely disagree. Why? It's simple: the war currently going on in Iraq.  What is the point of the U.S. still being there since 2003 when the person who was supposedly in charge of Al Qaeda and leading the terrorist attacks was killed? Is this really the nations way of protecting us from future attacks?

During the class discussion there were two things that came to mind in relation to the video and the readings. First the fact that humor is used when it comes to stereotypes.  Jeff Dunham is a ventriloquist who has one of his dolls as Achmed The Dead Terrorist. Here is a clip of one of his standups:

Although this is funny it does show that comedy is used to make fun of certain stereotypes. At about 7 minutes they speak about being a "suicide bomber".

Another thing is the movie Borat. I did not finish watching this movie but the way the main character, Borat Sagdiyev, a journalist from Kazakhstan, was portrayed was disturbing. He was portrayed as a dumb man who came to America to cover a story but then focused on wanting to find Pamela Anderson and marrying her.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Media Moment, "Body Ritual among the Nacirema"

I wanted to share a document that I feel ties directly into the ideas of ethnocentrism and cultural relativism. You can find it here:

Tell me what you think about the Nacirema society. I don't want to give too much away because I want you to come to your own conclusions. (Hint: Does anything sound familiar?) What is the mystery and what can we take away from it?

I was introduced to this text in my anthropology class and ever since reading it, my eyes have been completely opened. It showed me that when one is so utterly and completely immersed in one's environment and culture, it is difficult to distance oneself and take another's point of view. 

To me, reading and discussing this with that class opened up an entirely new perspective. I hope that it will do the same for you. Or at least give you a little aha! moment. 

Media Moment: Islam people in films.

Hi, everyone in my class. This is Se. I'm major in media analysis and criticism.
I'd say, I'm a longtime movie-lover. I watch every movies on the world.

I want introduce two films that I watched which relate to with our last class.

First, I want to introduce a film The Sheik. This film is one of the most racist film against Arabs. Of course, this film came out almost a century ago, before we have sound-sync technology.

The Sheik is one of the hegemonic Hollywood film represents Arab as a savagery.
This film's plot line is very problematic because the main character Diana is simply submissive and being depicted as an sexual object. An antagonist character Sheik (or Ahmed Ben Hassan) kidnaps Diana and puts her in his camp in middle of dessert. Diana has no choice unless become a wife of Sheik.
Sheik is very decent to Diana (Sheik and his men wear white clothes). This Arabic character is not depicted with lechery, rather, he is gentle and heroic figure.
In the climax of film, Diana attempts to escape from Sheik and his companies - Diana, however, lost in the dessert kidnapped by a lewd bandits whom wear black clothes.
Sheik saves Diana from the villains. And Diana realizes that she loves Sheik. (stockholm syndrome).
In the last part of film, Sheik compasses that he is not Arab decent, he is a white man.
This wired twist meant to be relief anxiety from seeing interracial marriage between White woman and Arab man.


Check more details about this film.
This film is one of thousands film depicts Arab as a savagery and inferior to whites.

And compare this film with films are made by people in middle east.

One example, I saw a good film, Bab El-Oued City (1994).
(I'm sorry I can't find clip with caption)

This film shows Islam in Algeria experience cultural and sociological changes.
As every one knows, the Islamicphobia and Orientalism in media is not only a one-day-built ideology.
Christianity Vs. Islam has almost couple thousands year history.
I would like to suggest everyone in this class try to watch films that made by Islam people which gives you better understand of their culture and thoughts about social issues they have.

Media Moment, Fiat 500 Commercial

I remember seeing this commercial on TV a few months ago. Will this comparison between a woman and a car ever stop or is it another one of these mechanisms that advertisers continuously use?

In this commercial, the woman's body is literally juxtaposed with that of a car. Her presence on screen is replaced by that of the car with the same colors that she is wearing (red and black). The fact that she speaks Italian and is presented as foreign to the viewer relates to the "foreign car." Does anyone else find this insulting? There is constant play on the idea of "riding" in a car and I don't think that this should cross over into the use of a woman's body. Ban these tropes!

At the end of the commercial, you hear the woman's voice say "you never forget the first time you see one." This immediately places her in the position of "object" because of the word "one."
I think this commercial presents a man as being the potential driver of the car, not the woman. This is also linked to the stereotype that men make better drivers than women do. I do not think that the woman in the commercial is empowered in any way. She is not driving the car, but is "seducing" the man who passes by after she scolds him for ogling her. This implies that staring at a woman's body is nothing to feel nervous about and is even encouraged. This is evident in her suggestively touching him afterwards.

A few weeks ago, I saw another TV commercial. I wanted to share it with you, but I can't find it anywhere. Let me know if anyone comes across this so that I can put it up too. Thank you!
The commercial that I'm referring to featured a woman who was advertising a car. She was surrounded by three different "types" of men. She was characterized as the protagonist who had her choice in different types of cars the way she had in men. Does anyone see this as any better?

Media Moment, NY Times Article

Thank you, Simmi, for reminding me of a perfect example of having to confine to a culture's "norms." The difference here is that there is law enforcing this. Does anyone know if this ban on wearing the niqab was boycotted against in any way?

After Simmi presented in class yesterday, I found an article online that was published just this September:

Here is a quote I found that was echoed in the articles on Sex and the City 2. 
"A French businessman of Algerian origin, Rachid Nekkaz, has offered to pay any fine incurred for wearing the niqab. So far he has paid 412 fines totaling more than $60,000, plus $16,000 in legal fees. But many Muslim women who wear the veil simply stay home, he says, adding: “The law was meant to protect women but it has imprisoned them instead.”"
I learned in my anthropology class that everything is relative. Just because something is different than what you are familiar with doesn't make it wrong. I also learned about the term ethnocentric and I think that it is a dangerous thing. Every culture has different practices and evaluating someone's culture based on one's own standards leads to the taking away of people's voices. 

Reflection on 11.15 Class Discussion

The video Reel Bad Arabs (2006) opened my eyes to a lot of films that I've never seen. I wonder if any of the films were directed by women. As Sam had mentioned, Dr. Jack Shaheen repeatedly incorrectly uses the term Arabs throughout the film. I was wondering why no one in his field had mentioned this to him. It saddens me that no one he worked with noticed. The terms Middle Eastern, Arab, and Muslim are often used in place of one another and I'm glad it was brought up in this class. I wish younger students were taught about this because I think that the younger we are, the more certain ideas are repeated, and get cemented. 

I remembering watching the Disney movie Aladdin (1992) when I was younger. Of course, I had never thought of it in that way. I had never paid attention to the lyrics of the song and connected it to a culture. But listening to the opening song in class the other day, suddenly I was shocked and ashamed. How and why had I never thought about this before? Would you let children watch this? Is there more harm than good being done by a seemingly innocent animated children's movie? For some reason, this reminded me of McDonalds and how, in the past especially, younger children were targeted as consumers. Toys and other "fun" things were used to grab children's eyes.

It made me seriously think about all of the other Disney movies and the stereotypes that are being used. I remember reading "Holly and Melissa's Multicultural Curriculum" and wonder how children are influenced by watching these ideas. The sad truth is I don't think that the influence can be truly deciphered. I think it is a combination of one's environment, family, friends, and individual ideas that come together. 

One quote that Dr. Shaheen said was that people become "comfortable with their prejudices." There is truth in this and I think many television shows perpetuate (there's that word again!) stereotypes because it is easier than gaining an understanding of the complexities of an individual or a culture. 

In watching the clip from Sex and the City 2 (2010), I thought it was ironic that Sarah Jessica Parker's character was judging the women for being "voiceless" and suppressed when she was the one who had to flash a part of her body in order to get a ride. I mean, was that supposed to be an example of a "liberated" woman? How is this showing a woman who is embracing and is empowered by her sexuality? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bad Girls music video

I recently came across this music video by British pop star M.I.A called "Bad Girls".
When I first saw it, I laughed because some of the things that happen in the video do actually happen in real life (driving the car sideways, YouTube "changing tires while driving" or "Saudi street skating"), but more than anything, I was confused. I didn't understand why M.I.A shot her video in the Middle East and I didn't understand why the people in the video were Arabs. I looked up her biography and she has nothing to do with the Middle East, so why was she associating herself with it?
I'm still not sure why I'm annoyed, asside from the guns everything is pretty much true. Most women really do walk around decked in designer things (I heard some gasps when we watched the SATC 2 clip when the women revealed couture under their abayas, what did you think? they were naked under there?) and the men really can be daredevils.
Maybe I was annoyed that she was singing about people she had nothing to do with? (my brother connected this video to Russel Brand's song "African Child" in the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall )
It just doesnt make sense to me. Asside from that, I'm also annoyed that there had to be guns in the video, couldn't we Arabs just be portrayed for once as peaceful people? Also, what the heck are the lyrics "live fast, die young, bad girls do it well" "don't go screaming if I blow you with a bang" "hands up, hands tied"supposed to be referencing? suicide bombing/ shootings/ suppression of women?
I'm just.....I don't know I guess I'm just very confused by the content.

Whatever her reasons, I'm EXTREMELY curious what other people think because so far I've  only heard
my siblings opinions and the'yre basically like mine. 
Asside from that, Why do you think there always have to be violent/ repressive 
symbols when referencing the Arab world? And why do you think it's
 titled "Bad Girls" when there are just as many men as there are women in the video?

Alya Fetyani

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Media Moment, Arab Men: Exposed

It is crucial to view the representation of Arab women in the media within the context of the simultaneous representation of Arab men - their so-called oppressors. Some of our readings discussed this very issue. Last week, in what could only be a sign from the heavens, I came upon this art project being carried out by Tamara Abdul Hadi called "Picture an Arab Man."

In the project, Abdul Hadi attempts to portray a "new" side of Arab (whom she explicity men that is not aligned with the villainous portrayal they are given in popular media. Her photos, which present naked to semi-naked men from countries all over the Middle East, show vulnerability and softness, in direct contrast to the "oppressive" and harsh stereotypes people often have in mind.

On her website, Abdul Hadi states that the project is a "celebration of their sensual beauty, an unexplored aspect of the identity of the contemporary Arab man on the cusp of change in a society that reveres an out-dated form of hyper-masculinity." Her work simultaneously challenges the perception of this group in both Arab and Western societies.

Personally, I'm both amazed and annoyed by this. I love the concept, and definitely recognize its utility especially in the United States and European societies. On the other hand, I hate that something like this is even required. But I guess this frustration is common in social change/activism, and the things that seem most obvious to the people who are working to change them are not often that obvious to the general public.

Question: While Abdul Hadi's work is great, is it taking away attention from the issues that Arab women face that are perpetuated by men- issues like sexual harassment and limited political access?  Could she have used her art in a better way? What is the balance?

In another vein, why is it important for feminists to understand and study masculinity?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Media Moment

I saw this 30 second commercial and the first thing that came to mind was sharing it with the class.

Dewar's - The Drinking Man's Scotch

From the title it is known its an alcohol commercial but in the back of my mind I was already expecting more.  It brought me back to the champagne commercial we saw in the first classes.  Women are hypersexualized in advertisements to draw in men's attention as if it's the only way it can be done.  Before this class, I would have watched this commercial and not thought much of it.  Now I see it and automatically see it in a different way than others.  In my opinion, from the beginning the women coming out of the apartment as the camera is on its way in, and how the woman or "narrator" says "you  might be wondering is this the one you want?" As soon as the camera enters the room it makes you think something totally different from liquor.  From this point on the camera focuses on different of the woman's body parts.

Why must women be used in this way to draw attention to an alcoholic drink?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A post about a scarf

A friend of mine recently posted this article on her blog. I thought it would be perfect to share with the class given the recent readings we did about Arab women. Though the circumstances are unfortunate, it made me really happy to see that there are still people out there who try to understand.

My questions from the article is, do you think these girls would have gotten a different reaction had they been Nuns with covered hair? Had they been Jewish with scarves/ wigs?
The girl in the photo is very American looking compared to other Arabs, so do you think the woman even noticed her face or just the scarf? Do you think she got that reaction because of the scarf or because of what it implies?

Alya Fetyani

Media Moment, “NYMed: Episode I”

I decided to attach this episode to the blog because as a nursing student I am truly offended with the portrayal of nurses, particularly female nurses in this episode.  As you watch the episode the one nurse who is repeatedly shown is Marina who although well educated and ranked top of her graduating class is portrayed as the “hot, yet dumb, nurse”.  Her inappropriateness to her client’s persisting erection and then her later inappropriate acceptance of dinner with a former patient of hers perpetuates the notion that female nurses are there just that—sexual, tender species who lack adequate education as compared to their male counterpart, the physicians.  This episode again reiterates an old belief that nursing is a female occupation and you only become a nurse when you are not smart enough to be accepted into medical school.  This message is portrayed in the way that the film crew has decided to distinguish the “knowledgeable” and respected physicians from the more immature nursing staff.  Although there were exceptions to the sexes of the physicians and nurses, a majority of them were divided based upon their sex—the males were physicians and the females were nurses.  This sexualization of occupations and the stereotypes that are perpetuated in this episode are profound, from the “hot, dumb blond” we know as Marina to the “Indian doctor” named Dr. Arundi Mahendran down to “chivalrous, handsome, brown haired gentleman” that is popularly known as Dr. Oz.  In a field that is already getting a lot of heat for the perception that there is little care and compassion in medicine, such a show turns a serious field into a soap opera with drama, suspense, and plenty of sexuality.  In a society that is greatly medically illiterate and unknowing to the inner workings of the medical system, what disadvantages does such a show put on medical professionals, particularly female professionals?