Sunday, February 26, 2012

Media Moment, "My Fat, Beautiful Body"

I wish there were more articles like this in the media, about loving your body and being comfortable with something you, most times, cannot inevitably “fix.” And this doesn’t have to resound with just females- it can also extend to guys. “Body image,” as the author writes, “isn't really about the image of bodies. It's about the holistic relationships we have with our bodies. It's about how bodies look, how they move, what they feel like, and how we treat them.” There are plenty of girls who either try hard to lose weight or gain weight to fit the “normative” standards of beauty but when they look at themselves in a mirror, all they see is an ugly duckling still far from pretty.
We are taken with her into the ballet class she attends and witness her most edited thoughts and reactions to her own body as well as the bodies of her classmates. Her struggle is unquestionable as we see through the lens of her own eyes. She’s been pressured about her weight since she was 8. The people she held important to her, namely her Dad, assisted in weakening her confidence– he told her at 16 that he would buy her a car only if she lost weight, after numerous tries of her dieting from young, with no success. Its sad that many don’t get the help they need from the most influential people in their lives.
Although she is extremely self-conscious throughout the ballet class, which is probably one of the most vulnerable experiences in her day, she reassures herself that she is beautiful, her body is her own and that in itself makes her a winner.

How would one accepting themselves as a “fat” girl/guy? How can they balance that and make sure their health is up to par? 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Media Moment - Transvaginal Ultrasound

As some of you may have heard Virginia was on the verge of changing their state law to require women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound.  This was not however the ultrasound you're probably thinking of with the jelly and weird electric shaver being passed across your abdomen.  This was transvaginal, which means these women would be penetrated by a doctor with the apparatus above.  This is a link to a much more graphic and NSFW picture.  An important note in this disturbing story is that women seeking an abortion, because they were raped, would be forced to endure this procedure as well, essentially forcing them to endure another rape.  Now the Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell (R), and ardent pro-life advocate and possible GOP Vice-President nominee, has finally decided he needs to review this bill in more depth after learning how invasive this required procedure would be, and how it might actually be grounds for doctors to be charged with sexual assault.

Obviously this topic is guaranteed to cause a stir as abortion is a very divisive topic in this country, however it relates to women and the media for a different reason.  When you Google "Virginia Transvaginal Ultrasound"  there are no major news network links above the fold of results.  The first major news outlet is the Huffington Post, followed much further down by USA Today.  When you go to the actual homepage of USA Today there is absolutely no mention of this issue whatsoever.  Yet Gov. McDonnell's reversal of his position to endorse this bill is only a mere day old.  If you then click the tab to bring you to the "News" section, again you will not find a link or reference to this issue.  Only when you narrow the search again to "Nation News" do you find a link, and even then it is again below the fold of the page.  This screenshot shows the top stories being pushed today.  The reason I am using USA Today as a specific example is because it is the most widely circulated US publication in the world, not necessarily because it is the source of the most impartial news.
Obviously my initial thoughts on this were not only are women rights being steamrolled again but news outlets are barely covering this issue at all.  A women is likely to be forcibly raped by a doctor to rid herself of a pregnancy caused by a rape and the nation is relatively silent.  Why are women's rights still be overlooked in this country?  Why are we apparently more interested in John Edwards sex tape suit than we are in the possibility of state passing a law so archaic and invasive than it borders on criminal?  Why am I not seeing OWS-sized protests about this?  Is it because the media makes it a point to not focus heavily on women rights issues or is it because the news room is still a boys club, and if it doesn't concern men then it's not that big of a deal?  I would love to hear what some of you think.  Oh, and the kicker to this entire story is that this bill was introduced by a women, Kathy Byron.  That last fact made my brain implode.

Discussion points for Jacqueline Bobo, "Black Women's Response to "The Color Purple'' "

A few points:
 In her article,  J. Bobo discusses the ongoing history of inaccurate and exploited portrayal of black women in the media industry. She utilizes S. Hall's ideas that social forces erupt from emerging of discourse. Bobo states that the critic plays a major role in how a film is perceived. Bobo illustrates that Spielberg's film"The Color Purple" caused African-American women to share a wave of "schizophrenic" reaction to the film, with it simultaneously being a work of a black woman, while being produced as a mainstream media product of a white male.
I wanted to address the following questions to the class...
1. Do you think that Hollywood deliberately glorifies stereotypes to boost box office sales?
2. Do you think that without the stereotypes "The Color Purple" would have the same success as it did? Does the American audience still accept stereotypes?
3. Do you agree with the notion that the viewer has a voice and an individual take on the material , or do you believe that the media fully control and manipulate one's digestion of the material?

Discussion Points for bell hooks, "The Oppositional Gaze"

The Bottom Line...
            In this essay from her 1992 book, Black Looks: Race and Representation, bell hooks argues that as spectators of mass media (and especially, cinema) black women have a unique perspective, which she refers to as the “gaze,” and which is severely underrepresented within both film and academic/feminist film studies.  She describes this oppositional gaze as a natural response to and outgrowth of the socio-historic narrative of gender, race and personal identity that is particular to black women.   Finally, hooks suggests that filmmakers create subjectivities that undermine current dominant narratives while working to establish black female identity through the recognition of this "gaze" in their work. 

My questions for the class are...
       a) As media students & moviegoers, can you think of any black female characters in film that have specifically responded to or anticipated this confrontational, "oppositional" gaze in viewers - in recent years or otherwise?
       b) hooks proposes using this "gaze" to empower black female characters and undermine the dominant hierarchy. Can you think of any other techniques to employ in film to this same end?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Media Moment_ Powerball

So... as I'm walking to the F train on 63rd and Lexington after an arduous day of classes, a telephone booth that had this ad in it's glass display caught my eye. It's simple to the naked eye. It tells a story: a white woman, with two kids, won the lottery and went shopping for market goods. Her son is operating their plane which was bought by their winnings. They're "landed" in a parking lot and there's a line which states "Yeah, that kind of rich." I found the ad quite comical but somewhat sexist in a way. Primarily because the woman/mother is doing the grocery shopping and not a male figure. I'm not saying that a man should be doing grocery shopping instead of a woman but why can't he? There is clearly a man walking towards the supermarket but I think he could have been placed there just so the advertiser (New York Lottery Powerball) wouldn't be questioned as they are in my post. 
And so my question to you is: In a country where a man is looked upon as the figure who brings home the income and a lady's responsibilities are to take care of the home and children, does this ad fit or break that stereotype, which history has known to be the norm of society? Women today, in my opinion, are more prevalent in the workforce and hold great social power as do men, and so I find it somewhat offensive that here, a woman is only able to take care of kids, do grocery shopping, and handle heavy machinery (which can also be a misinterpretation being that her son looks to be the pilot of the helicopter!) 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Media Moment,"Tyler Perry: Friend or Foe?"

Tyler Perry: Friend or Foe?

Tyler Perry’s new film “Good Deeds” premieres in theaters this Friday.  Most of his films attract huge audiences which are characterized by his impersonation of a southern Christian woman named Madea.  I respect and admire his ideology but his work not so much.  Perry has been praised by the all mighty Oprah and has been featured in the Black List Volume 3 which lists the most influential African Americans.  For the sake of this post let’s ignore the implications of the black list. (For now) I watched many of his films including “For Colored Girls” which I found to be very condescending. I do think he’s movies are satirical, perpetuate stereotypes and does not promote our culture.  Is this what Black America wants to see?  What’s your take on Tyler Perry? Is he a friend or foe to the black community?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Discussion points for "The Social Psychology of Stereotypes"

My thoughts on the article "The Social Psychology of Stereotypes: Implications for Media Audiences":

Images and portrayals of groups in the mass media reinforce our automatic tendency to interpret information in a stereotypical way, even if we are not aware of it. Therefore the media only exacerbates the problem of prejudice and discrimination, making it harder to eliminate the problem entirely.

I do believe that the way we process new information is somewhat automatic, such as with stereotypes that have already been embedded in our minds. The media plays a big role in all of this, as we are subject to a 1,000-3,000 media images per day, as discussed in class. The media affects anyone no matter who you are; endorsers or non endorsers of stereotypes. It is how we work against them that can make a difference.

Question to the class: Have you ever found yourself drawing conclusions about a social group, even if you did not agree with the automatic stereotype? If yes, have you found it hard to work around the stereotype once they’ve been activated?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Media Moment, "Tweeting about Jeremy Lin"

Jeremy Lin of the NY Knicks

“ Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.”
It’s crazy how a single tweet can transform into a racial issue. This is what Floyd Mayweather, the undefeated U.S. boxer tweeted not even 24 hours ago and he’s getting serious backlash for it.
       Of course it will be news for Jeremy Lin, an American with Taiwanese roots, to be the talk of the town right now because that in and of it is different but it’s also about his skills on the court. Shucks, if I dropped 20 or so points every game, especially with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire- Knicks star-players being out due to injuries, outscoring great players like Kobe Bryant and doing all this while coming from a low ranked college league (Harvard), my name would be all over the internet and sports shows too! Does LeBron not get praise for his swift moves and “money” shots? Or is Jordan not deemed as one of the greatest ball players of all time? Am I mistaken because I thought these players were African American as well?
How about Jason Whitlock’s (Fox Sports writer) tweet, “Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple of inches of pain tonight,” clearly referring to J-Lin’s anatomy. Whitlock was eventually fired for his tweet but the fact still remains that stereotyping and relying on schema is still strong today as it’s ever been.
       We all know the schema about Asian males: extremely smart, nerdy, computer geniuses, short in height, into Pokemon and anime, small penis, strict family, owns a Chinese Restaurant and the list goes on. Its sad that J-Lin can’t quite get the respect he deserves because of his race.

My question to you guys is: Do you think, based off your own knowledge about race in the media and our readings, Jeremy Lin always have his race card played before his skills on the court? Why or why not? 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Media Moment, "A Tale of Desperation & Restraining Orders"

Helen Gurley Brown, an author and long-time editor of the women's magazine Cosmopoltian

An article, titled "A Tale of Desperation & Restraining Orders," appeared in the February 10th, 2012 edition of the New York Times, written by Ginia Bellafante for her Big City column at the paper.  Its subject is the current sex scandal involving the general manager of the New York Yankees, Brian Cashman, and a certain Ms. Neathway.   The sex scandal itself is not of any particular interest, considering that it is just the story of yet another public figure who has strayed from the marital bed only to have the affair become national news.  What makes this article different, and, what connects it specifically to our recent class discussions, is the way the author explicitly associates the desperation of Ms. Neathway to the unrealistic lifestyle emphasized in women's media such as Cosmopolitan.  Bellafante writes,

"This story, though, is ultimately less about the alleged philandering of a powerful married man and more about the desperation that can afflict a certain kind of woman who comes to New York with glamorous ambitions and fails spectacularly to meet them.... Ms. Neathway’s drama is conveniently unfolding on the 50th anniversary of the publication of “Sex and the Single Girl,” Helen Gurley Brown’s loopy summons to erotic liberation. Having inaugurated a giddy new culture of urban single life, the book assured women that, with the right steps, dazzling careers and wealthy men would all be theirs."

While Gurley Brown is surely a controversial and provocative figure, this statement and the insinuations it makes appears both bizarre and tenuous.  The woman involved in this scandal has a criminal record and 13 restraining orders against her - she is obviously an unstable character who has a number of ingrained psychological problems with harassment and relationship boundaries.  Although I am no fan of Gurley Brown, the magazine she led for decades, or her 'take' on what it means to be a successful woman in the modern age, I think that the parallel Bellafonte created between these subjects is unfair to both and somewhat arbitrary. 

My question to my classmates on this media is:
         Do you see some sort of viable cultural connection between the lifestyle glamorized by Helen Gurley Brown in her 1962 book, Sex and the Single Girl (which we read about for class, in "Inventing the Cosmo Girl," by Laurie Ouellette), or as editor of Cosmopolitan, and the behavior of Ms. Neathway or Mr. Cashman in this news story?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Discussion Points for "Inventing the Cosmo Girl: Class Identity and Girl-Style American Dreams."

- I wrote this as if I were writing a letter to Helen Gurley Brown, whom this article is written about. What are your thoughts?
Helen Gurley Brown's books

Dear Ms. Helen Gurley Brown,
            So let me get this straight, according to you, all I need to do is purchase a push-up bra, apply makeup and wear fine materials, smell delicious and I’ll get a great husband, a decent job and move up a few rungs on the economic ladder? Well by golly gee, where’s the nearest Saks?
It’s one thing to recommend how to’s and give tips on womanhood but to suggest a lifestyle and the means to get there is a bit preposterous Ms. Brown. Your writings don’t help us women acquire the “American Dream” any more than Maury Povich does with relationships.  Let’s get one thing clear, the “American Dream” is a dream in and of itself- being a homeowner with a spouse, two kids, one dog and a white picket fence won’t bring anyone true happiness and neither will any of your books or articles. Helping women become dependent gold-diggers rather than independent respectable females to potentially move up to the “high class” is not quite the best thing for women of any age to read. Using things to get men and men to get things mean nothing if you aren’t content with you being you in the most basic form. You’re basically creating a fa├žade and being that your books are internationally distributed and articles are read nationally, so many women will heed to your advice and nine times out of ten fail miserably. No amount of makeup, behavioral and sexual suggestions or your how to weed out the “perfect” husband ideas will make a woman more womanly, sexual, give her the upper hand nor bring her class.
            What I can applaud you for Ms. Brown, is speaking and writing what you feel is truth especially on taboo topics like a woman’s sexuality, class roles, economics etc. Not many women could have done that in the 1960’s and many don’t have the galls to do it now. Kudos to your fearlessness. Now that is what women need more of.
 Thanks for your time,
Joanna- Marie B.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Lesbian kiss at Seattle ballpark stirs up gay-friendly town

"Most of the time, a kiss is just a kiss in the stands at Seattle Mariners games. The crowd hardly even pays attention when fans smooch. But then last week, a lesbian complained that an usher at Safeco Field asked her to stop kissing her date because it was making another fan uncomfortable!"

The usher said that a women had complained to him about their kissing with the excuse that there were kids in the crowd! I found this scene somewhat unecessary.

What's so different about two men kissing? Or a male and female kissing? Then that would'nt be considered shoving their sexuality in your face?

Here is the article:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Media Moments, "If I Were A Poor Black Kid"

On December 12, 2011, Forbes magazine online published a column from Gene Marks, a self described "middle aged white guy who comes from a middle class white background." The essay was titled: "If I Were A Poor Black Kid" and contained a list of advice for poor black kids on how to make it in America.

"I would use Skype to study with other students who also want to do well in my school," was one suggestion from Marks. Because, obviously, all poor families have computers and high speed internet at home.

Marks also encourage black kids to capitalize on rich white people's desire for tokenized diversity.

"Most private schools I know are filled to the brim with the 1%," writes Marks. "That’s because these schools are exclusive and expensive, costing anywhere between $20 and $50k per year. But there’s a secret about them. Most have scholarship programs. Most have boards of trustees that want to give opportunities to kids that can’t afford the tuition . . . Trust me, they want to show diversity. They want to show smiling, smart kids of many different colors and races on their fundraising brochures."

According to Marks, following this roadmap of technology, good grades, and scholarships will inevitably lead to success. He concludes: "Because a poor black kid who gets good grades, has a part time job and becomes proficient with a technical skill will go to college. There is financial aid available. There are programs available. And no matter what he or she majors in that person will have opportunities. They will find jobs in a country of business owners like me who are starved for smart, skilled people. They will succeed."

Well, I guess that's it. Gene Marks, an accountant, Forbes magazine contributor, and middle class white guy has just solved the problem of racial inequality and lack of access to opportunity and education.

Though the patneralism of the article is blatant, it is not particularly suprising. This type of thinking is common in the American pysche, even if it is not always so obviously stated. So what happened when a Forbes columnist solved the centuries-old problem of racial inequality on the internet? Did the poor black children of America reply with a collective, "Thank you!"? Did people ignore this column, since there is way too much opinion-spouting on the internet anyway? Not quite.

The response was swift, sharp and prolific. Writing for The Root Elon James White replied with incredulousness and sarcasm:

"Mr. Gene just wants to give us some of that patented #WhiteLove™ that he has laying around the house. With a healthy sprinkling, poor ignorant black children can rise above their station into the magical world of reasonable participation in society!"

White continued, "How in the world can this man create this checklist of things and not realize that he's requesting that kids do something extraordinary simply to not continue to be in poverty: forget their surroundings.Forget any issues with their parents, the issues their parents might have, like perhaps not eating every night. Forget poor schools with overcrowded classrooms and teachers who can barely keep the class together. School systems that pass children along because they simply can't keep them."

More excellent responses came from Akiba Solomon in COLORLINES, Cord Jefferson writing for Good, and a satirical response in the Atlantic called, "If I Were a Middle-Aged White Guy."

The response to the column even became news itself -- with NPR doing a story on the controversey.

The success of this story was, in my opnion, the public shaming of Gene marks. The absurdity of his opinions were ripped open, he was mocked, and even Memed. Gene Marks is, at least on the internet, a bit of a joke. But does being mocked online have ramifications outside of the virtual world? Did these responses open up a critical conversation about opportunity and race? Or did they only circulate in a small online world, moving through like-minded circles?

My question for the class is: how does the case of "If I Were a Poor Black Kid" and Gene Marks relate to our study of gender and the media? What does this case tell us about assumptions of priviledge? If you want to think about this a little more, check out another column written by Marks -- "Why most women will never become CEOS."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Media Moment: Women, Sex, and Music

Here is an article I wanted to share with the rest of the class. It is an article talking about women in the music industry. It discusses how women try to be molded by their managers and others to look sexy and appealing to viewers and the media. As someone myself who works at a music studio I have over heard managers talking to their female artists about appeal. Some even encourage them to make their music "more sexy".


Blog Like a Blogger

Let's get started in Blogger . . . here are the basics of posting.

1. From the Dashboard, click on NEW POST.

2. There are two tabs -- Edit Html and Compose. Start off in Compose.

3. Write your text or paste it from another word processing programming.

4. Use the bold, italic, color, font, and size options to make your text pop.

5. Spell check by clicking on the ABC/blue check button.

6. Make it pretty! Always include a visual element -- either a video or photo. I guess I better follow my own advice, eh?

7. To add a photo, click on the photo image button. Browse for the image on your computer or upload it from a url. Chose the size and position.

8. To post a video, get the embed code. This is different than the url of the video. In YouTube you find it by clicking on Share.

8. Copy the embed code. Now go to the Edit Html tab and paste it where you want it.

9. Hyperlinks make blogging fun. You can reference articles, artists, blogs and other online sources. You can get creative with which words you chose as the hyperlink. A word of warning! Hyperlinks take readers away from your page, so use them wisely and not excessively. To add a hyperlink, highlight the text and click on the link button. (Next to the text color box.) Paste the url of your link.

10. You can preview the blog before you post, to see if it looks clean and fascinating.

11. When you are ready, hit PUBLISH POST. Don't worry, you can always re-edit it.

12. Another Hunter College instructor, Martyna Starosta, has some great ideas on how to write engaging blog entries.

13. One more thing . . . what do you get when you combine blogging and 3rd wave feminism? Aha! These.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Media Moment, "NEW: Nontraditional Employment for Women."

Halfway asleep on the train, I spotted this Media Moment:

OR check out the website if you aren't able to see my picture clear (just to get an insight of what NEW is):

It's an advertisement for NEW (Nontraditional Employment for Women) which is a program that offers free training and job placement to women in what we commonly know as "manly" jobs. They specifically mention Building and Construction, Transportation and Public Utilities. Why not break down the social barriers/stereotypes even further? I mean, didn't this movement start since Rosie the Riveter (whose slogan coincidentally, or maybe not so coincidentally, bares similarity to the NEW ad) back in the 40's? 
J. Howard Miller poster 

Coming from a family with way more testosterone than estrogen, my first thought was, "Go Ladies!" Show that "We Can Do It!" all, even in the most testosterone-ridden workplace. But then I wondered (probably because of the Deconstructing Media Kit) what is NEW not telling potential applicants? Yes, it's an enthusiastic message that may leave us with the utmost pride for our vajayjay's but can't it be possible that these women face serious sexual harassment in these fields? Are they really respected as not only competent employees but also females who are going beyond socially constructed limits? Are they just as safe as their male counterparts on job sites? Are the union benefits the same for both sexes?

I came across this study on the Department of Labor website entitled Women in the Construction Workplace: Providing Equitable Safety and Health Protection  ( basically stating that there are definite examples of a hostile workplace environment for women by male  coworkers, sexual harassment, isolation from others, lack of proper restrooms and the list goes on. The article's abstract declares, "Many of the identified problems are amenable to change through engineering, behavioral, or administrative intervention. The recommendations in this report are directed at employers, labor unions, manufacturers, training programs, supervisors, and workers. Improving the work conditions for women in the construction trades will not only ensure their health and safety, it will also serve to attract and retain women as workers during a critical time of labor shortages in this industry."

So, based on this information and maybe even your own experience... Do you think women have to maintain conventional masculine character traits to advance in or be socially accepted in nontraditional job environments?