Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Just something to take a look at...

Not sure if you guys have seen this yet...But holy shit. This photoshopping madness has to stop.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Reflection 1: Representation in the media

We've been focusing on the mis-respresention of minorities in the media, but also women as a whole. I had to remind myself that although minorities clearly appear less in popular media than Caucasian women, the media forces ideas of conformation onto all women in other ways beside skin color or religion. I wanted to reflect upon our discussion and readings from the third week because they have been the building blocks of our current discussions.
The third week we discussed the articles “Stuart Hall and Cultural Studies” and "Inventing the Cosmo Girl" and I thought about these readings specifically when I saw a blog about this Maxim image, which I had seen a few years ago. A friend of the blogger mentions something about shaving and how it only became a societal norm a century ago. She says, "if one were to dig just an inch deep into the origins of what is considered ‘girly’ as of this moment, he would see cunning marketers of previously unneeded products all the way. A screaming example: shaving one’s legs etc was not introduced as a norm till about may be a century ago or so, and for thousands of years before that femme fatales did just fine a la naturale. So it’s all a matter of taste and culture." I know this is a fairly simple statement but it reignited the ideas presented in the third week's discussion/ readings. Hall states, “in the case of our Cosmo woman, the surface meaning is a woman, but the reason that image was put together in the way it was has little to do with being a woman, naturally speaking (page 4).” In the Maxim image it seems the Cosmo woman would be the bikini-clad "cured" feminist. In class we spoke about the given meaning vs. the true meaning, the Maxim image brought me to these ideas since there is an agenda in creating a feeling the woman on the far left is somehow unfeminine, while the one on the far right is perfect. The discussion from the third week brought up these ideas, which have continued to appear in more recent discussions when we speak about who controls the media that's often presented to the masses. Ultimately, powerful men (mainly white) and politicians or industry producers play a part in controlling advertisements and media, and they are the ones who would benefit from all women not questioning their roles. By leading women away from "dangerous" thoughts about cutting off penises to more simplistic thoughts about sexy cars, societal roles won't change and men can remain the dominate sex. The discussion from the third week, as well as more recent discussions, have continued to enforce my thoughts that the media producers are mainly men, and therefore we don't see as many powerful women in mainstream media productions.

Tenzin- Reflection

I wanted to reflect on the discussion of Asian Women in the media. It was interesting to learn about the stereotypes and the typecasted characters that are found in Hollywood films that I wasn't aware of. Perhaps due to the fact that there aren't so many Asian characters that are worth remembering, these are the characters without complexities or purpose, in Hollywood films. I didn't realize how difficult Hollywood has made it for Asian actors when it belittles them into these roles that are meant to be made fun of. The emasculated males, the hyper-sexed females, the ignorant and backwards citizens of a far away exoticized land. I grew up watching cinemas of different countries. As a Tibetan-American born in Brooklyn, NY, I not only grew up with Hollywood but I also grew up with Bollywood (mostly Bollywood for a good part of my childhood), Korean films and a mix of other cinema. I also watched Japanese anime growing up. It was great to grow up with a multitude of media where the central characters ranged from different background with all their complexities that made them interesting and important characters. After watching the documentary in class and after hearing about the struggles that these early Asian American actors had when auditioning and the offense that they had felt, I feel bad for Asian American actors today. It makes me think that they really do have a raw deal even if their passion is acting. As an Asian-American, I have also felt the pressures of these silly roles, roles in which people think are true. For instance, at work, I constantly have to explain myself at least once a week, of my background, when I came to the states or the meaning behind my name. I am all for innocent curiosity but why is that Asian Americans always have to explain themselves. Could it be the exocitized image that has been perpetuated on us that stimulates their nerves to ask how long I have been in this country? Whatever it is, I too am hopeful that there will be an acceptance of a whole diversity of people in the media. I hope to contribute to this when I make films surrounding Tibetan communities.

Media Moment

Thought I would share this video of talk show host, Julie Chen, where she revealed she got plastic surgery for "Asian eyes" because her boss and manager said she looked disinterested when interviewing people. It reminded me of hegemonic society catering to people in the lower classes, while still reinforcing their patriarchal ideals. The idea of beauty is aesthetically tailored to people who benefit from patriarchy.

Reflection #2: Simply Some Thoughts

After our class last week, I had my beliefs about Asian (mis)representation and stereotyping in the media largely upheld. However, when I began to consider that class in the context of some of our other discussions, a disturbing trend became clear to me for the first time. Although we've spent the last few weeks talking about women of different ethnicities--all with rich cultural histories--there seems to be some common, demeaning ground in how they're all portrayed in the mainstream media. I look back to our discussions and readings for black women, Latin women, and Asian women, and they all seem to feature at their core a kind of binary between a hypersexual/devious representation and a more submissive one, with no intermediate for any group. Indeed, though we have yet to have a discussion on the topic yet, the same binary seems to exist for representations of Muslim women based on our weekly readings, as the popular tropes seem to be that of the "exotic belly dancer" or the "voiceless burqa wearer."

Taking any group of people and portraying them in such a binary is reductive and patently ridiculous and harmful, but what does it say about our society that we can take such a rich tapestry and distort every bit of it in the same way? What factors lead to this disappointing distortion? I've been making jokes to those around me that all of the reading and studying I'm doing for this class is showing me that "everything is messed up, has been for a long time, and I don't see how anything is going to get much better." When I said that a month ago, it was accompanied by a chuckle, but the deeper we go into everything, I'm concerned that I might have been exactly right. However, this class's readings show that a lot of good work is being done, though, and I suppose that is important--I just wish they'd reach a broader audience rather than, say, Sex and the City 2 or something in that vein. That leads me to an intriguing question: can serious scholarly work be successfully woven into popular entertainment? What are the stakes if that cannot be managed?

Reflection #1: Underrepresentation

Even after a week, I still find myself stunned that up until last week's class I was completely ignorant about the lack of Asian American women in our media. It was incredible how as a class we struggled to name Asian American women in our media simply because so few of them exist. I was somewhat aware of the stereotypes of Asian American women going into our class that day but did not realize how the underrepresentation of Asian American is equally important.

With this in mind, I'm ashamed to say that for our discussion on Muslim women in the media no one comes to mind. I think those of us who want to be conscious of the oppression minorities face particularly in the media often forget how underrepresentation is just as important as misrepresentation in their oppression. There was only one Muslim male in my graduating class in high school and so for many of the people I graduated with he is the only Muslim they know. This leaves room for those individuals to be more heavily influenced by racist stereotypes since Muslims are so underrepresented in my community and I think this is mirrored in our media.

When Asians, Muslims  or any one particular race or ethnicity are underrepresented in the media the very few representations of those groups become more heavily weighted and therefore have greater significance. This is especially dangerous because more often than not these representations are skewed and inaccurate, only perpetuating greater oppression.

Reflection #1: More About Latinas in the Media

As a half-Latina, I am particularly sensitive to this topic and more and more things came to mind while we were discussing it in class. I hit on something in discussion that no one really commented on further, which is what about the Latinas in the media that don't "look" Latina?
If you click this link, you can see a list of many celebs who don't fit the Latina stereotype: Stars You Never Knew Were Latino. Some examples are: Kat Von D, Sara Paxton, Alexis Bledel and Demi Lovato.
Part of the reason I wouldn't go into acting is because I don't think I fit any particular role...I'm too white to be Latina and too exotic to be white. I used to have dreams of being on Broadway but the more I observe, most shows only cast blondes as their leads.
It really is sad because people who aren't Latino don't see it this way. They think it's so easy to just go and make it big when in reality it seems like Broadway and Hollywood don't have any room for us. While Hollywood and Broadway aren't where I want to be anymore, as an aspiring singer-songwriter, I only hope that the world doesn't question my music as well.

Reflection 1 - Latinas and the Media

Bradley W.Gorham uses his article “Considerations of Media Effects: The Social Psychology of Stereotypes: Implications for the Media Audiences” to reinforce some of the topics explored during our discussion focused on Latin Women. His analysis allows the readers to identify traits of racial prejudice encouraged by the media that have become embedded into our cultural schemas and therefore our behavioral approaches. These automatic responses are so deeply ingrained in our collective mentality that we tend to marginalize certain groups of individuals without recognizing our actions.
Unfortunately, the effects are far more unsettling than just huge gaps between communities. We have taught minorities to discriminate against their own members and pushed them into a cycle of insecurity and shame. As a result, the identity of smaller communities is getting lost among western popular culture. Dominant societies have created specific boundaries and expectations for subjugated groups, which we naturally tend to comply with without questioning.
In the case of Latin women, mainstream media has grossly diminished the meaning of femininity: dark features, voluptuous bodies, seductive personalities, loud, and fiery, while still submissive and unintelligent are their only significance. In order for Latinas to be accepted as public images in a global market they are forced to play stereotypical roles that barely comply with reality. Sofia Vergara, a natural blonde and flawless English speaker, has learned how to exaggerate her accent, adopting purposeful mistakes in her speech and a darker hair color to please television networks. Her efforts can only allow her to play a stereotypical role in the most relevant point of her career: a loud, over sexualized housewife who uses her looks and dishonest tricks to reach her objectives.
How could we possibly expect more from Latin actresses Like Sofia, when a simple web search of “movies with Latinas” results in huge amounts of online pornography? The images created by the entertainment industry completely dominate our perceptions and demands, stimulating unconscious racial prejudice and marking our interactions with those unfamiliar to us. It is our responsibility as to demand respectful and equal environments for all people, prioritizing minorities that are susceptible to manipulation from 

Women in the Media: Reflection No. 2 - Does a Black "Roseanne" Exist?

While scrolling through my fellow classmates' reflections, Lemonia's caught my eye. She spoke once again of how influential Roseanne has been for her, both the sitcom and the woman for whom it's named. In class, when we spoke about the show, our discussion spawned into a discussion of other sitcoms that made up our childhood, and one question popped into my mind. Have we ever had a black equivalent to "Roseanne?"

We discussed a number of 'black' sitcoms, such as "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Smart Guy," "The Cosby Show"… but even those programs lacked what "Roseanne" was doing. "Roseanne" wasn't just a show about a struggling lower-middle class family in Middle America. It was also a show where a strong, independent-thinking woman (and later, independent business owner) was head of her household and never let her husband boss her around. "The Cosby Show" probably came closest to it, with Claire Huxtable a wise and intelligent business woman who was also a great mother and an equal partner in her marriage, but it wasn't the "Phylicia Rashad Show."

I'd be really curious to know if any of you have an answer. Setting aside the even more obvious problem of a lack of prominent black people in sitcoms today, is there, or has there ever been a black equivalent to "Roseanne?"

Women in the Media: A Reflection

Often at the start of class, we'll begin our weekly discussion of the readings by breaking down the traits discussed of a particular class of women. Many of them are stereotypical or are poorly used to define a set of women based on what the media tells us these women are like. What's interesting to me, more so than the lists we compile, is that we tend to affiliate each trait on the whiteboard with each and every famous woman who we've listed on the other side of the board. What this indicates, at least to me, is that popular culture is often one dimensional, especially in the United States.

The United States is not a nation made up of one class, race or creed. Each and every day, we're surrounded by people of all shapes, sizes and colors in school, at work, on our commutes… and yet, that diversity has yet to resonate with those who are making the media we consume. Every Spanish housewife on TV looks like a Sofia Vergara ("Modern Family"), an Eva Longoria ("Desperate Housewives") or a Constance Marie ("George Lopez"), all slim and beautiful, loud and outgoing. Every white girl on a TV sitcom fits the anorexic-like model made famous by the female cast of "Friends." The list goes on.

Yes, this is a very general critique, and yes, we've discussed it in class before on a number of occasions, but our weekly use of the whiteboard, and the way we mix and match traits, has me thinking about these generalizations more and more. It became even more obvious how little certain types of people are shown in TV and film when my classmates and I found it difficult to point out prominent Asian women in the know. Our list during last week's class was feeble, but not shocking. Still, even with a lesser amount of names, the lines we connected all intertwined. We connected almost every trait with every actress, and that's telling of a substantial problem in Hollywood.

Reflection Post 1

I thoroughly enjoy class discussions because it allows everyone to express their own experiences as every single person’s lives are different. Overall, I feel as though this class has caused me to become extremely more critical about the images that surround me every single day.  I am constantly analyzing visuals of women I see whether it be on subway ads, television plots or their roles in films.
The other day I went to the movies and decided to hit the bathroom before it began. I was startled by the signs on the bathroom door.

 I can now use symbiotics to try and uncover underlying messages within images such as this. This picture shows representations of two genders by the standards of the 21st century. The woman no longer is seen wearing a triangular cartoon-like dress but rather is displayed as a curvy big breasted person. This is an example of how in which the media is further instilling ideas of what it is to be a “woman.”
On the other hand, this “womanly” figure contradicts the other belief that to be beautiful, one must be thin. I always feel uneasy when the topic of beauty is discussed. I understand that the standard of beauty that society has created includes an ideal look that perpetuates this notion that being “white, blonde haired and blue eyed” is beautiful. I am white. I have blonde hair and blue eyes. However, I do not look like these people that we see on display. I feel as though I constantly struggle with the fact that I have been given these characteristics but I still do not portray this notion of beauty. I’m hope that I am articulating how I feel in a way that is understandable as I have been having a lot of trouble putting this feeling into words. 
I suppose I would have to say that a question that has arose from all of this would be how in which can I move forward from simply analyzing the issues that I am continuously seeing. What can I do to change these depictions of women in the media? How can I bring forth the problems I see from my mind to a tangible action that changes the way women are presented? I want to take this knowledge and use it to make a change.

Kaitlyn Harrington

Monday, October 28, 2013

Reflections on Class

The one thing that really hit me in class discussions is to what extent everyone is forced into categories. We all need to be able to check off appropriate boxes on applications. We get divided from humans to men and women to different skin colors, nationalities, cultures, relgions, beliefs, opinion, clothing sizes, etc. If we all get so caught up on our differences of course we will all end up being "othered" and the hegemony will divide and conquer us all. I remember, when I was little, on state exams I used to check off the "other" box since I was taught by the people around me that Asian meant Chinese or Japanese, since Indian wasn't a category I feel like I was subconsciously othered from the beginning. Just because countries have borders and limits doesn't mean our minds also have to have limits and we exclude people. The stereotypes that are held against us we reject, but when there are stereotypes against other group we accept them as the truth. Since we are othered we like to "other" people as well. In the same way that we have begun to stop and think about media messages pertaining to women we need to apply that all across the media spectrum. We have to catch ourselves and a discursive attitude must be adopted towards all people. The media has to become smarter and realize its effects because these days the youth absorb more from them than their own parents. If in my generation I felt othered, to what extent does the youth now feel othered and will feel in the future. We need to get past our differences and gain more knowedge about others and ourselves, ignorance can no longer be considered bliss.      

Eyelid Mania (Media Moment)

Eyelid Mania

After a very long break from listening to Korean music, I decided to get back into it and watch a few videos today. It wasn't until I had a number of friends grouped around me and talking about popular plastic surgery that I realized that they had no idea how popular it was for Asian women to glue or tape their eyelids to create a double lid.

One of the horrific things in this video for me, a video that my same group of friends watched in slight horror, was the fact that this woman was using what she called an "eyelid fork" to help create a fold. But what is even more horrifying is the fact that many women simply go under the knife to have what they believe is more appealing eyes.

What do you guys think about this? I had to post it, especially since I have so many Chinese and Korean friends who believe that their eyes are not as attractive as "white eyes." I personally think that it does not matter, and while they all have the right to do whatever they want to their body, its also a little scary the extreme that some would go through.

Reflection 1

I want to reflect on the class so far as a whole, and on a few specific aspects. Overall, all of our class sessions have been really engaging. I like that we are learning about the different stereotypes and representations of different ethnic women. It has taught me that not every woman experiences this media-driven world the same way. One specific aspect I liked was when we collected stereotypes together as a class and then looked for celebrities and then realized that they all fit the stereotypes. It is shocking every time how influential media is to us.
I must admit that last class, I did not know any of the names of the Asian celebrities. I never realized that I was so ignorant to that ethnic group and I am glad that now I know. I will definitely keep an eye open for Asian women in different media.
When we were talking about Latina women in the media, I wanted to comment on the text about Ugly Betty but I never got a chance. My cousin who, just like me, is 1/8th Puerto Rican, actually checked off the Hispanic box when applying to colleges and got accepted to Cornell University which she also attended. I always wondered if that is why she got in. She is a very smart girl but it still makes you wonder. She might look more Puerto Rican than me, she isn't blonde and blue-eyed like me.
I'm excited to see how the rest of the semester will go but I am sure it'll be just as engaging as it has been.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Reflection 1- Derewko Torres

I’ve reflected on what I have learned so far and I am proud to say is a lot. Most importantly I am a person that over indulges in films and television shows, ads and magazines. To me it is a very important part in of my life especially because I someday wish to work as a Director for a film or TV show. Hence, learning about some of the negatives things media brings to the audience is depressing.

On a side note I don’t always want to feel like I have to decode everything I watch. Like the AD shown in class “watch what you watch” because honestly if it wasn’t for this class I probably would have never given it much thought. I would like to add that as a Latino person the topic of Latina stereotypes really spoke to me. In particular the article by Debra Merskin it informed me on the three common Latina stereotypes. Also, the article What Does Race Have to do With Ugly Betty? By Jennifer Esposito because it still has me a bit perplexed just because I am unsure about what I would have done in Betty’s situation… if I was offered a job because I meet their “quota” what would I do? 

Class Reflection #1 - the media's erasure of diversity and dissent

Something that we touched upon during our class discussion last week was the fact that most of the examples of representation in the media in the documentary we watched were people from East Asia. The American media, although it may have improved in recent years, does not do a good job of representing the true diversity of Asia, which is the most diverse place in the world.

That discussion ties a lot into this week’s readings about the Middle East, all of which demonstrate the media’s tendency to collapse entire regions and populations into singular images (e.g. Middle Eastern women as covered up and silent.) The documentary we watched also showcased the media's oversimplification of complex cultures, politics, peoples, and places.

The mainstream media make it seem as if there is only one narrative about all of the peoples, countries, and cultures of Asia. When people are not exposed to diversity, it’s often difficult for them to picture other people as having emotions and desires similar to their own. When you’re exposed to a broader, more realistic variety of stories and people, however, you’re more likely to find common ground with others.

I think that the lack of diversity presented in the media may be a deliberate form of social control. The perpetuation of stereotypes lead people to see one another as separated by race, rather than seeing the common experiences of oppression (esp. economic) that bind them (although everyone experiences oppression in different ways, the oppression all comes from pretty much the same places.) We see one another as color-coded enemies, which directs our attention away from the harm rendered by the dominant institutions and leads us to commit violence against each other instead.
Do you think that the media’s perpetuation of stereotypes is part of a “divide and conquer” plan to keep populations from colluding and overthrowing dominant institutions? Or are stereotypes perpetuated in the media out of habit or because it’s easier for us, as simple humans, to conceive of the world in terms of all-encompassing mental schemas?

- amanda fox-rouch

Reflection #1

To be honest, I can't really think of anything I wanted to say in class that I have not said already. However, there is one discussion in particular that I feel stood out from all the rest.

Our first student-led discussion I felt was really strong, probably because it was a more general discussion about women in the media as a whole. Don't get me wrong, I love our discussions on the different groups of women in the media, but our first discussion just seemed like everyone had something to say about each and every person's reading.

I really meant what I said when I mentioned how much the show Roseanne influenced me to become the person I am today. The show touched on so many subjects of an everyday life in a family home. Subjects that were taboo, such as masturbation and pre-marital sex, and even racism on modern times were just some of the things that the show touched upon throughout the series.

Roseanne is such an inspiration to me, because she was the one that ran things in the house. It was not one of those typical American sitcoms, where the husband was the one in charge in the home, and the woman stayed home all day to care for everyone. It was her way or the highway, and everyone in the Connor home knew it. Roseanne was a loving mother, but was also the type of mother to get in her kid's face if they were out of line. She also didn't care what everyone else thought of her. She lived her life the way she wanted to, and wore the clothes that she felt most comfortable in.

Our class discussions are something I look forward to each and every week. The possibilities in our discussions are endless, and I love that we can share our personal thoughts and experiences amongst each other.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Reflection 1

In our last class, I realized that all minority women in the media deal with different stereotypes associated with their race. However, all women deal with sexual expectations. If they are not stereotyped as the virginal, naive woman, they are characterized as the overly sexual, exotic woman. There is no in between.

The class discussion affirmed what I had thought previously. When asked, the class named Asian women, but Asian women from either China, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, or Japan. The reason this happened is because the media portrays Asians as only from those countries. I too, was ignorant of this until I was applying to colleges. I was born in New York, but my parents are from Guyana, South America. Guyana is the only non-Spanish speaking country in South America, and considered part of the Caribbean. However, my ancestors are from India. For some time, when asked to fill out questions from the census or school related forms asking what my race was, I would check Other because I did not know what I was considered. Then, a teacher I had, informed me that because my ancestors were from India, I should check Asian. I then realized that Asia consists of so many more countries than what the media portrays and there are a lot of people that are not represented in the media, including myself. Even the articles we read about stereotypes of Asian women, did not include all of Asia, just Asians that are displayed in the media. I guess that was because there are little to none representations of the widely known understanding of Asians to begin with, much less all of Asia.

The discussion made me think of our discussions in the beginning of the semester about the hierarchy in the media of the dominant rich, white, upper-class, man. Media is tailored to their interests, rather than to everyone in society.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Media Moment #3: Motorboating Breast Exam

WARNING: You may be deeply disturbed if you watch this video. Don't say I didn't warn you.

There has been a video floating around the internet titled "Motorboating for Breast Cancer Awareness", where a group of men would donate $20 for every woman that would let him put his face between her breasts and make a motorboat-type sound (hence the term motorboating). I wanted to post the video, but the video has been made private since the last time I witnessed it. Let's just say I cringed for a good 2 minutes and couldn't force myself to keep watching. It was for a good cause, no?

Well, I just found this video, where a woman is being examined by a muppet, and I am deeply appalled. A breast exam is no laughing matter.

Any thoughts?

Gorillas aren't sexist. MediaMoment2

Media moment 2.

I read this NPR Article titled 'Why Gorillas aren't sexist and Orangutans don't rape'.
In this article, a gorilla in a Chinese zoo received worldwide media attention for his supposed 'sexist' behavior in which he nipped at female gorillas and disliked the company of them. She also mentions the behavior of some Orangutans that physically restrains female Orangutangs and mates with her. She says that according to academic literature these male Orangutangs are raping these female Orangutans.

The author of this post, Barbara King, then investigates whether the words 'rape' and 'sexist', terms that have derived from human experiences, are accurately assigned to these situations. King illustrates that the terms are human inventions meant to express "institutionalized male dominance". Erin Tarver a professor of philosophy backs her claim as she states

First of all, when we look at the non-human world through gender-colored-glasses, which is what we do when we describe it using gendered language, it's hardly a shock that we "see" our own gender patterns everywhere. Second, these kinds of perceptions can end up justifying bad social practices. Once we believe that male domination is just natural, it's a very small step to believing that it's inevitable—and, for some people, that it's divinely ordained or otherwise meant to be.
I found this piece interesting because it made me realize the importance of language and meaning. We ascribe certain words without thinking of the implications of its true meaning. Popular uses of language is used for the experience of the hegemonic structure. How many times have we said 'Fireman' instead of 'Fire Fighter', 'mail man' instead of 'mail carrier' or 'mail person'? It can be difficult to realize how truly gendered our language is when it is embedded into our everyday way of speaking.

My Question would be:
Have you noticed improvement in the common language that is spoken (that gravitates towards gender equality)? If not, what other examples can you think of that illustrates just how gendered our language has become?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Media Moment- Derewko Torres- Extra

                        Did Rihanna cross some sort of line?

The always controversial celebrity got kicked out from a mosque in Abu Dhabi because she was taking pictures without permission. She was acting inappropriately in a sacred place wearing her own version of burka. Women of Islam religion wear a Burka for religious purposes. 
Did she cross some sort of line wearing a "burka" to make a sort of fashion statement? or is she standing for something else? Should this be controversial? Is it wrong?

Media Moment, "Better Out Than In: Day 19"

This is the street artist Bansky's nineteenth installment in his residency within New York. This work appears on a Staten Island street and is centered around an anthill. When I first viewed this teaser for the piece, I didn't have much of a reaction. As it zooms out to it's final frame, the womanly shape can be made out and the vaginal imagery comes full circle. While I didn't have much of a reaction to this piece, I'm interested in what the rest of you folks have to say about this. How do you feel upon your first viewing? Can you parse out any deeper meaning than this piece's appearance? Do you feel that the artist by making the most private part of a woman literally equivalent to the street, to be stomped on and stepped over is objectifying here? Do you feel that having a tiny community centered around a vaginal representation says something about matriarchy? Perhaps there's a play on the queen ant to be made here? What do you guys think?

- Will Burkhardt

Media Moment 2: Stop Telling Women to Smile (Art Series)

As a woman, have you ever been told to "smile" by a random man on the street, in the workplace, or at school? Why is there a schema associating women with having to be light, perky, and bubbly at all hours of the day? Are we not entitled to basic human emotions that aren't exclusively happy?

Stop Telling Women To Smile is a street art series for the public. "The work attempts to address gender based street harassment by placing drawn portraits of women, composed with captions that speak directly to offenders, outside in public spaces," describes the artist and creator, Tatyana Fazlailzadeh. (via "about")
Tatyana works to bring attention to the street harassment women face. As a young woman myself in our urban environment, harassment is worrying enough when going home alone late at night on public transit. To be told to "smile" by a man has no context. Do we have to always be a pleasing object of beauty and entertainment to males?; Always feminine, never a frown to be seen? Society needs to stop condoning men's offensive behavior, and this is a powerful installation giving women a voice against street harassment.

2nd Media Moment: Nicki Minaj

I saw this ad while walking down the street and it immediately caught my eye, for all the wrong reasons. The look on Nicki Minaj's face is fairly ridiculous and whatever she is wearing seriously accentuates her boobs, making it clear they are a focal point of the advertisement. I've never heard of this brand but they are clearly using Minaj and her body to sell their product. Is that an issue, or is it ok for a company to use whatever means neccessary to make their product popular?

I also read a blog which was talking about the ad campaign and very clearly talks about Minaj herself being a "brand" and therefore a product to sell to the masses. It also talks about how it is similar to Diddy's relationship to Ciroq and I immediately thought about the difference between using a male celebrity to sell a product and a female celeb. It always seems the female celeb, no matter how well known she is, generally uses her body (in part) to sell the product.
Has anyone else seen this difference? Do you think male celebrities are sometimes used in the same way as female celebrities or is it as detrimental to use male sexuality to sell a product?

Media Moment #2, Melissa McCarthy Elle Magazine Cover

This latest Elle magazine cover recently sparked controversy. Leaving aside the obvious airbrushing, the powers that be decided that it would be best to keep Melissa McCarthy, a plus-sized actress, entirely covered up, hiding her body under an unflattering, oversized coat. A month earlier, on the cover of the September 2013 issue, Kate Upton appeared in a body hugging red dress.  

Supposedly, the powers that be must have decided for McCarthy that she had something to hide.

Monday, October 21, 2013

MM2: Zebra F***ing Katz-- "Ima Read"

This video was brought to my attention in my literary theory course, of all places. It's the video for the song "Ima Read" by underground rapper/performance artist Zebra Katz:
In that class, we were talking about it in the context of how it uses repetition, but I think there is a ton of interesting stuff in here regarding gender, as well--but before one can truly ascertain what's going on, some context is needed to clarify some things. According to this article on the New York Times website, "reading" is a reference to Ball culture, which (according to our good friend Wikipedia) is a subculture in the LGBT community where people walk (i.e. compete) for prizes. To "read" someone in this context it to "insult them in the bitchiest way imaginable," which certainly fits with a lot of the lyrics, including the opening hook ("Ima take that bitch to college/Ima give that bitch some knowledge"). Indeed, the word "bitch" is used 87 times over the song's four minutes.

In an interview he did with The Guardian, Katz (whose name offstage is Ojay Morgan), admits to attempting to reclaim the word, trying to 'numb' its effect. "Being different yourself gives you the power to make other people think differently," said Katz/Morgan, who's openly gay and identifies as "black, queer, and other."

As an outsider to ball culture, I worry that the song's message could be (and perhaps already is) misconstrued; what Katz means to be empowering could be seen as misogynist and what he intends as a celebration of a certain culture could be lost in the mainstream. Hell, even my professor admitted that at first, he took it as "just another one of those danceable, misogynist tunes." As of writing this, "Ima Read" has generated over 1.5 million views on YouTube. How many of those viewers will be satisfied with thinking it's only that, when there's a lot more going on here?

What are your impressions of the song? Do you think it succeeds in transforming the word "bitch?" Also, I'd love to hear about your semiotic interpretations of the video--even though I haven't addressed them at all in this writing I think it warrants its own discussion (we have black people in whiteface, androgynous twins, odd professor garb, and a black-and-white presentation, for starters).

Media Moment 2, "Fox News guest blames Missouri teen: 'I'm not saying she deserved to be raped but...'"

I chose to post about this because it was reminiscent of the Steubenville High School rape case where a young girl was raped by the football players of the school who are portrayed like glorious, all star athletes. On top of that, some news outlets will say that the rapists are the actual victims because of all that they've had to endure when in reality, the person who was raped will struggle and endure a greater amount of pain. In this case a 14 year old girl was raped by a 17 year old boy when she was drunk and then was left passed out on the front porch of her house in the freezing cold. After all this the charges against the boy were dropped. You can read what happened that night from Daisy herself, the girl who was raped, here. This Fox News guest blames Daisy for the rape and makes me truly disgusted that a person like this exists, especially because he is a lawyer who seems to have no evidence against Daisy and goes on victim blaming. Something in particular that struck me was when he said " But what did she expect to happen at 1 a.m. in the morning after sneaking out?". Oh, I don't know, maybe she expected to go out and come back home fine? What do you think, do you think that she should have been more responsible? Do you agree with this lawyer?

Read more here:

Kim K's After Baby Bod

Media Moment #2

So as I was scrolling through my instagram feed the other day and a picture of Kim Kardashian in a tiny white bathing suit was posted by her.  This picture was put up for her to show off her new body after having her daughter North West.  I do not understand what made her think it was okay to post this picture so that the whole world could see it.  1. Because she has like no clothing on and 2. because she now has a child and as a mother these types of pictures should not be all over the internet.  The fact that Kim let her body be degraded like that made me extremely frustrated and made me question how she looks at herself.  Did anyone else feel uncomfortable looking at this picture?

Media Moment 2: Work Bitch

I know this isn't necessarily new, but I think it's something to be discussed. Don't get me wrong, I love Britney. I've loved her every since "Hit Me Baby" but there is something extremely disturbing about this song and mostly, the video. Pay close attention to 2:01, I almost couldn't bring myself to watch the rest of the video after she pretty much starts whipping the other dancers.
Between her, Rihanna's video for "Pour It Up", and all this talk of Miley, there is definitely something that needs to be said about women in the music industry. This hits home because I am actually a singer-songwriter that is trying to make it in this business without going down that road. Let me know what you guys think!

Pens: Now for Women

The Ellen Show-Bic "for her" pens

She did a funny, saracastic skit for what a commercial for Bic "for her" pens might be. While the video is funny and I guess I can understand the marketing technique of standing out on the shelves and having colorful pens I think in the video Ellen brings up the connection between opinions and being able to write. She sarcastically says in the fake commercial to the young girl that she can write down opinions and throw them out because nobody cares about them anyway. While many products like to re-sell their products using different taglines the product and video made me think of hegemonic tactics that like to add emphasis on the seperate male and female spheres. Maybe subconciously writing and "legit" opinions are attributed to men and not women? But NOW there are pens for women because NOW its socially allowable.  

Media Moment 2: Gold isn't food, fools

Gold isn’t food. It’s not even food for the soul; in fact, I’d even argue that gold damages the soul. The existence of the capitalist economic system necessitates that the human spirit be downplayed and diminished on a large scale.

So why does this Bloomingdale’s ad from Nylon Magazine give the impression that jewelry is suitable sustenance for women in metaphorical sense?

Well, because it’s a fashion ad. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this class, it’s that the fashion and advertising industries are particularly brutal to women. Pair them up, and you’ve got one lethal, nearly unstoppable, misogynistic duo.

This ad implies a link between wealth and and a woman’s self-worth. The jewelry (which appears to be made of gold) represents wealth, while the model represents beauty. This implies that if you want to be beautiful, you have to be wealthy. This messages appeals to women who already have the means to purchase jewelry from Bloomingdale’s as well as those who aspire to that ideal.

It also suggests a link between a woman’s self-worth and her outer appearances. The ad portrays a skinny model consuming a plate of gold jewelry, which downplays the importance of nutrition and suggests that actual food isn’t important. Being attractive is really all that matters.

This is problematic because eating disorders are basically rooted in this line of thinking. If you want to be attractive according to dominant standards, you have to be skinny. And in order to be skinny, sometimes you have to eat gold chains instead of hamburgers.

Really, though, the dominant ideas perpetuated in mainstream media and advertising regarding women’s “proper” relationships with food validate and encourage eating disorders and habits of self-harm.

What do you think? How does this Bloomingdale’s ad reinforce dominant norms and ideas surrounding wealth, outer appearances, and the relationship that a woman should have with the food that she eats? What messages does this send to women living in poverty?

- amanda fox-rouch

Another day in NYC - Judah Felder

has anyone seen this advertisement before? I found it so disturbing!
thoughts on such ..."services "

props to whoever did this by Hunters 6 train station!

Media Moment 2: Miley Cyrus

We have discussed Miley Cyrus a few times in class when discussing women and the media but this particular photo of her stuck out to me. In an obvious attempt to shy away from her Disney persona, Miley Cyrus has redefined herself as a highly sexualized musician. As a result, she has been heavily criticized but at the same time has become quite popularized. Whether it be in photographs, music videos, or even at award shows, Miley Cyrus has now become synonymous with twerking and nudity and infamous for sticking out her tongue. Her new persona has made her millions but at the same time has cost her any chance of being taken seriously as an artist as well as any chance of accurately representing young women her age and being a role model for her young Disney fans.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Media Moment 2 - Women in Animation: Natasha Allegri's Bee and Puppycat

Natasha Allegri's Bee and Puppycat was originally released as a two part web series this past summer on Cartoon Hangover, a subdivision of Fred Seibert's animation company Frederator. Frederator has published popular cartoons such as The Fairly Odd Parents, Chalkzone, and Adventure Time. They created their web channel Cartoon Hangover this last year to publish cartoons online that maintain the integrity of the original visions of their creators. Their freshman series "Bravest Warriors" by one of my idols, Pen Ward, became an instant sensation and created more room for amateurs to try their hand at creating webtoons for the YouTube Channel. This is where Natasha Allegri comes into the picture. She is a character designer and storyboard artist for Adventure Time who was originally discovered through Tumblr for her animated Gifs. After pitching her cartoon to Fred Seibert, it was picked up as a 10 minute short that would be released in two separate parts. When it was originally released in July, I watched it and was instantly hooked to the strange language and comedy. The first part may have only been 5 minutes, but I still managed to watch it ~10 times in the first day. 
Right now Cartoon Hangover has created a Kickstarter with the goal of making Bee and Puppycat a series, and one of their selling points is that this is the first Cartoon created by a woman that is not just for other women. Fred Seibert has said in several interviews that in his 20 something years in the animation industry, he often found that cartoons by women with lead female characters never lasted very long. One interviewer brought up "Daria", a popular 90's show on MTV that starred a monotone and sarcastic high school girl that became popular with both teenage boys and girls. Fred was quick to point out that even though Daria saw great success with both men and women with a female lead character, the creators and producers were all men. Natasha may become the first woman in the field of animation to create a show with a female lead character that has the following and potential to become commercially successful. The Kickstarter has already reached half of its $600,000 goal in less than a week.

What "girl" cartoons have you enjoyed growing up and what makes them "for girls"? 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Role Model

This video gives a personal point of view of how family effects our representation as individuals. It explores how the expectations for men and women differ, and how children notice more than you think.

Media Moment 3: Cliteracy

I thought this video about Cliteracy  was a good personal point of view from an artist. I thought it fit well with the lack of female representation and knowledge that's out there about females that we had been discussing in class.

What do you think?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Media Moment #2

This ad may as well have been from the 1940-1960's era. Brinks is advertising their locks as useful to the housewife who always has her hands full. The image displays a woman holding laundry/ groceries while talking on the phone.Women's gender role in their eyes is still on the level of the ever busy housewife who has multiple responsibilities around the home, rendering her unable to open doors normally because her hands are literally always full running errands. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Media Moment #2: Gender Roles in Same-Sex Relationships

I think the caption in the advertisement pretty much speaks for itself. Any thoughts? I'd love to hear them. :)

Media Moment 2 - Lack of Diversity on SNL

Recently, SNL has been criticized for its lack of diversity since the announcement of its six new cast members who are "five white men and one fair-skinned woman of mixed descent (a high-profile addition to the writing staff is black stand-up comic Michael Che)." And in the show's whole history, they have only had 4 black female cast members on the sketch comedy show and there has never been an Asian or Hispanic comedian in the cast. The only 2 black cast members of this season, Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah (who plays the president) spoke out about the controversy which you can read about here:

I would like to focus on Kenan Thompson's remarks. He said, “It’s just a tough part of the business,” Thompson says. “Like in auditions, they (producers) just never find ones that are ready.” While I am a fan of Kenan Thompson and SNL, this statement is so misguided. If SNL's producers can't find comedians who are women of color, they are not looking hard enough. From Jessica Williams on The Daily Show to Issa Rae on The Mis-Adventures of an Awkward Black Girl to Mindy Kaling on The Mindy Project, there are absolutely hilarious women of color in the media and I am sure there are more women of color out there that need to be discovered. Women of color are already lacking in the media, more so in comedy, and producers need to make more of an effort to bring women of color into the show. Logically, it would make sense. Kenan Thompson already said he will not be playing women on the show anymore, which is understandable. Chris Rock has said, "The black community doesn’t have that many movies, so if there’s only four black movies in a year and two of them star black men in dresses, I could see how that would upset some people." SNL needs funny women to play celebrities like Michelle Obama, Oprah, and Beyonce. They can be an asset to the show.

What do you think? Do you think producers are at fault? Or do you think that women of color are not getting the chances to be prepared to be “ready” for something like SNL? How much of an effect do you think stereotypes of women of color play into the casting in comedy shows?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Media Moment 2: New Obsession- The 'Thigh Gap'


The article " 'Thigh Gap' : Reflections On Teenage Girls Latest Obsession" , by Silvia Pagan Westphal is about a mother and her thoughts and concerns about this new fad for teen girls and young adults. She talks about the conflicting world of images, and how media and social networking sites contribute to these problems. She also touches on how family members influence the way a young girl sees themselves.

After reading the article I looked up thigh gap in the search engine and what I found was saddening. The Tumblr, @Carasthighgap twitter page, and the Sexy Thigh Gap photos at were really a negative I thought. I saw that on the Tumblr page a lot of the photos were celebrities or models and the Twitter page is an ode to model Cara Delevingne.

Why do girls feel the need to post half naked pictures on social networking sites?
How do you think Photoshop affects girls? 
How can we educate girls more on genetics and being healthy?
If you had any questions to add?