Friday, April 8, 2011

Alternatve Media to Teach Women of The Future

According to the last US census, women make up 51 percent of the US population. This has been the case for quite some time. However, in todays media rich world, women own less than 5 percent of TV stations and 6 percent of radio stations nationwide. The figures are even more frightening when you think about women owning newspapers and magazines. There the numbers are virtually zero given that the newspapers and magazines are part of the big 6 conglomerates owned by white males. Within these conglomerates, “women hold only 3 per cent of executive positions in the media (“The Glass Ceiling Persists,” Annenberg, 2003). Women also hold only a quarter of jobs as syndicated opinion writers in newspapers nationwide” ( Pollitt 2005). The statistics for minority women are non-existent when compared to these numbers. At daily newspapers in the U.S., women and people of color remain under-represented. Nearly 90 percent of reporters/writers and newsroom supervisors are white and about two-thirds are male. Hundreds of newspapers in this country employ NO minorities as full-time staff. (

What does this mean for our girls who will grow to be women in this media nightmare? Where are the women in positions of power to teach and emancipate them? As parents of young girls, we may try to get them involved in news and current events. We may try to give them the best education and opportunities available to them. However, girls today ages 12-18 will usually take all of their media content from the web and magazines. They read Seventeen, Teen Vogue and others like that to teach them all about relationships, beauty, and possibly current events. This months Seventeen magazine for example, has articles on college life and health topics for teens tucked away between beauty and fashion articles and advertisements. When it comes to magazines, is this all there is for girls to look forward to to gain their media knowledge?

Thank goodness, there are alternatives. Organizations like the Girls Scouts that have been around since 1912, now have 3.2 million girls in their organization; have a supplemental magazine and a new girl empowerment campaign, website and movement. There are also magazines like New Moon. This magazine is owned and operated by a mother and her two daughters. New Moon and its accompanying web site has current event articles and celebrates girls for who they are, empowering them. They take submissions from girls as well as women writers all in an effort to have a full, solid perspective of girls empowerment today.

Then there is my favorite of the magazines, Teen Voices. This magazine and its adjoining web site was founded in 1988 by two women from Massachusetts. They believed in the power of girls and young women to create social change through writing and art. Over 20 years later, they are still the only alternative magazine created by and for girls in the country. They have learned that media created by, for, and about teen girls is a vital and important force for positive social change. Their current spring/summer issue contains articles on Sexting, Child Marriage, Runaway Teens, poetry, artwork, fiction, and current young girls' thoughts. It also includes an interview with Donna Brazile, the first African-American woman to serve as a presidential campaign manager. Brazile has worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 to 2000, including the campaigns of former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. In addition, she is a professor, newspaper columnist, political commentator, and author of the best-selling memoir Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics. She was also named one of Essence magazine’s “Top 50 Women in America.

With media changing swiftly, women must find ways to seize back their share of messages that go out to the pubic. I believe the best way for that to happen is with magazines like Teen Voices. Only with teaching girls from a young age, will they have the knowledge and wherewithal to tackle the media messages that have been created to date.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely, i agree with you.Even before a child is born, gender stereotypes are at work.Gender-typed messages are everywhere.The growing number of young women who challenge traditional male dominant gender rules indicates that societal change in the direction of greater flexibility is possible.