Media is everywhere. Although cliché, we are constantly bombarded, knowingly or not, with information and messages that they carry; in our homes and workplaces, in stores, in every site we visit, in the transportation that we use. Media unarguably is powerful; it shapes cultures, it forms opinions. The problem lays not in all media, but the mainstream media that scarily possesses almost the whole media pie! 80 % is owned by 5 big companies, run or owned, by white men! This is shocking if one thinks these numbers. Where is the diversity in that? Is there any?
No different voices or different approaches on news and topics. Same voices are constantly heard and the images they portray, especially to young girls, are not diverse either. As Rebecca Richards Bullen says, “Girls as passive, boys as active, boys with trucks and super heroes, girls with Barbies, dollhouses and kitchens: constantly interpreting these social messages, youth are trying to fit into the stereotypical gender messages showing traditional roles of men and women.” Unfortunately no female voices or minorities, in general, are proportionally represented, despite the fact that we are the majority of the population. In the Youth Media Reporter’s article, Barbara Wiener says, “Although half our population are girls and women, less than one quarter of them are in positions to make major decisions. That seems odd. Or maybe not, if you understand how rarely girls are supported to share their perspective.”
This false female representation follows in the news media industry where the picture is not painted any differently. Women occupy mostly inferior positions and rarely are decision makers. What they are wearing is more important than what they are saying. As Michelle Filgate says, (referring to Katie Couric,) in an article in The Women’s Media Center, “I fielded countless public viewer e-mails in her first few weeks on air where people would write in about what she was wearing.” The women journalists are mostly for the “lighter” news and the white males are more likely to provide us with the “heavy” news such as political and economic topics. Examples of women that excel do exist, but sadly, are few and not represented in diverse areas like they should be. Women like Diana Sawyer or Katie Couric are simply exceptions and not enough to fill the huge gap. The lack of female voices, our misrepresentation, combined with the need for “real” news, adds to the necessity for more alternative media! The need for minority representation is apparent.
Mona Eltahawy is an alternative voice. She is a voice to be heard! Mona Eltahawy is a freelance Egyptian journalist that currently lives in New York. She is an award-winning columnist and was the first Egyptian journalist to live and work for a western news agency in Israel. (Mona Eltahawy’s website) She is a lecturer, who whenever is asked to give speeches in colleges, forums etc or simply comment, she openly condemns the hypocrisy that we all encounter around us. She uses her voice to speak for all the “voiceless” people, especially women. As a Muslim woman and as a columnist on Arab-Muslim issues, she addresses problems that women face with emphasis in the Islamic world. She strives to eliminate stereotypes that do exist for people of the Islamic faith. As she states, “Confusion is a great tool against stereotypes.” To that she adds, “I want to challenge the average news viewer, but not only them.” She wants to challenge both sides; stereotypes that exist for Muslims in the American world, and the stereotypes that also exist for Americans in the Arab world. As an activist and feminist, Mona Eltahawy is a loud, fearless person that does not avoid conflict and speaks her mind against anyone and everywhere! Voices like hers are what we need. People like Mona Eltahawy should be example for young girls to lookup to and follow.
As she states, ‘She connects with the world through social media.” She blogs, she is on Facebook, she Twitters (she says, “Twitter connects me to everything I care about and Twitter is ruining my life, I’m a Twitterholic!)
Check her Website….Follow her on Twitter….”Like” her on Facebook….Read her Blog!!!