Saturday, April 9, 2011

beautiful puppets

A troll could be an anchor, as long as he's a male troll. Take Tim Russert, for example. He is not a traditionally attractive person, but people take him seriously,his is respected in the media world for his sharp wit and journalistic clout.

The involvement of women in the news media has increased since the start of news broadcasts some 60 years ago. Though women are more visible in television news, the news that they cover has tended to be human-interest pieces, or segments on and fashion and cooking. Still often, female broadcast journalists have been regarded for their physical beauty, special importance is placed on their appearance, as if a woman's wardrobe or hair style is a carefully calculated ploy to advance her career. Female journalists are beginning to break from their past role traditionally manicured puppets of the news. Awareness of the lack of feminine presence in important behind-the-scenes sector just began in the late 1970's. This is reflected in Barbara Murray Eddings'
Women in Broadcasting.
"Summer of 1977 found the industry in a defensive posture with the publication of the United States Civil Rights Commission report 'Window Dressing on the Set', which charged that women and members of minority groups were almost totally excluded from decision-making positions in TV and that their actual employment status was misrepresented by the local stations. The news segment of the study covering commercial and public TV stations in the top forty markets during 1974-1975 found that white males made 88.6% of the monitored appearances of TV correspondents during that period and that most important stories were reported by men."

This hasn't changed enough. The media is harmful rather than helpful for girls. In the evolvement of our media, women have not been important players at all, but passive subjects that perpetuate gender inequalities. The news media has not been a vehicle for the advancement, and instead has been stifling.
This holds true for written media. Women have published under male pseudonyms so that they may be taken seriously, which robs them of their due recognition. Says Kristen Anderberg, street performer and contributer to alternative media,-

"Due to these types of double standards and sexism, women writers have used male pseudonyms in the past. Sometimes women scientists published under male names to be taken seriously. The aftermath of this is that many great women scientists have been forgotten as written works are often what connects us to our past. Additionally, women have not gotten credit for scientific writings that have been influential when writing as males."

The reading by Rebecca Richards Bullen demonstrated how media tools are misused by women- because of the small sector of femininity shown mainstream media, we turn this media on themselves so that we are constrained rather than liberated. We are damaged in our self- criticisms, confused and muddled by 'non inclusive' images, and stricken by our lack of resemblance to them.

"Sadly, the constant exposure of sexualization, objectification and images of gender stereotypes directly contribute to girls’ lack of self- and body-confidence, as well as depression and eating disorders. As a result, girls who do explore media tools often use these to mimic overt sexualization, sending or posting videos/images of themselves to a predominantly male audience. In effect, the behavior reinforces this harmful gender role stereotype."

Most American girls don't look like this, but Miley Cyrus has been a representation of pre-teens in our media. We learn by example, and children mimic what they want to resemble. Miley is supposed to be a positive image, a "real" girl. Disney, one of the largest and most powerful media players, trusted and revered for its 'wholesome' media fails to provide representations of variant body type and ethnicity.

And all of this diminishes the value of the female opinion. We are poisoned by self-doubt. Mainstream media has conditioned us that a woman is a beautiful puppet, valuable and important for her appeal in delivering borrowed information. We doubt our own opinions. Scholar of Feminist literary criticism Naomi Wolf writes-
"These psychological and social barriers to women's opinionated public speech make it literally not worth it, in many women's minds, to run for office, contradict an adversary or take a controversial public stance.'"

Alternative Media wholly produced by women is a vehicle for female seekers and writers of news, untainted by the mainstream binding tradition.
The Artemis Fund, Inc. is an example of such media. The fund is a self-deemed 'radical feminist' non-profit organization which "works to promote the human rights of women and girls". Based in Northampton, Massachusetts, the artemis fund has orchestrated the 'Not For Sale Media Project', the creation and display of homemade posters to raise awareness about the problems of prostitution and sex-trafficking. Which are perhaps more pressing than our wars in the middle east, but covered far, far less in the news.

"The Not For Sale Media Project is a mobilization of feminist media makers and grassroots activists that are creatively challenging the mass media's normalization of prostitution, pornography, and other forms of sexual abuse through the creation and distribution of alternative media. We are creating alternative forms of media that encourage individuals and communities to think more critically about the buying and selling of women's bodies; the commodification of sex and sexuality; impacts on individuals and groups of people; and alternative visions of sex and sexuality free of power abuse, violence, and hierarchy."

The Artemis Fund encourages contribution, their mission homepage states:
"We envision and work to create just, egalitarian, respectful, noncoercive relationships, structures and institutions."
The Artemis Fund Inc, was established in 1998, and works to create media that promotes women's social justice and encourages 'cultural creativity'. The fund organizes and supports feminist projects, series of film, and art and spoken word for the common goal of equity.
Though media like this is not as readily available for consumption by girls and women, The popularity of blogging and the internet as a fixture in our culture in the last two decades has allowed such media to be seen and known and contributed to.

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