Friday, April 8, 2011

Supporting Our Girls and Their Media Organizations.

Women and minorities (especially women minorites), in the news industry are not major decision makers. According to Barbara Wiener, "Although half our population are girls and women, less than one quarter of them are in positions to make major decisions." And Wiener's article seems to accredit this to both the lack of gender-specific media literacy and the fact that girls are not supported to share their perspectives.

Barbara Wiener believes that to change the staggeringly low percentage of women in decision making positions, we need more youth media programs that focus on girls. Wiener said in Highlighting Girls In Youth Media, "working with an awareness of girls' development, we can help teenage girls construct images and stories that empower them and add diversity to the media landscape." Even though sometimes youth media programs can have limited impact on mainstream media outlets, it is very important that they exist. Psycologically preparing girls to interpret and critique the swarm of mainstream media will help their attitudes about themselves and in turn empower them. And an empowered generation of women might therefore be encouraged to create alternative media outlets and strive for positions within media where they can make the decisions. Where they can add diverse material that will help to empower the next generation of girls and women. As Wiener said, when a girl in a youth program "sees her work in public, she becomes more powerful, her perspectives matter, and the effect ripples throughout her life and society."

A large contribution to women not being in positions of power in the news media industry is the emphasis on stereotypes and gender roles throughout all media and society at large. At a young age "girls, specifically young girls, are bombarded with images of women as powerless, passive victims noted primarily for their bodies and sex rather than their minds and capabilities." With stereotypes and restricting gender roles such as this, how can we expect our young girls to grow up with confidence? We can't, which is why it is important that gender-specific literacy be taught to our young girls. How can we expect girls to want power when they are constantly shown images of women without it? We can't, which is why it is important that they be taught their voices do matter and they are not powerless.

Bullen like Wiener believes youth media programs can help in battling the acceptance of such crippling gender roles and can "encourage thinking beyond socialized gender norms." Youth media programs can help girls to explore media that does not help them in fitting the normal passive female stereotype. It will help them to explore media that convey alternative messages that give them confidence. Instead of becoming powerless to media a girl can learn to use media and "take the power from media."

As beautiful an idea "taking the power from media" is, it is not without it's struggle. Youth women and minority media organizations, who have tried to do just that, have been under attack from more powerful media sources. Grace Smith's article outlines the struggle Arab Women in the Arts and Media organization encountered, when they were accused of being an extremist organization which was "hawking T-shirts that glorified Palestinian terror." When in fact, AWAAM's T-shirts were meant for Arab American girls to "express that they are part of NYC society...and shaking off oppression."

When The Post published articles depicting AWAAM as an extremist Muslim organization they were looking to silence the organization, or at least slander it to rid it of any credibility. However, it is important that youth media organizations or really any media source to stay strong and fight back, as AWAAM did. AWAAM's response video is an examplpe of young female minorites, the least respected in news media, utilizing their media literacy and the power of their voices. More girls need to be taught and encouraged that they too can utilize these tools.

Women News Network (

Women News Network is an important alternative news media source because it brings all women together in it's sharing of women's stories internationally. It is empowering to hear of the sufferings that women have over come. To hear that despite the many obstacles put in a woman's way she can over come these obstacles. And even the heart breaking stories are important because they provide us with an understanding of what must be done to stop future sufferings.

Women News Network which uses "the highest standard in journalism", was founded in 2006 by Lys Anzia who started a writing assignment to cover global women's news for the UN Commission on the Status of Women in 2006. From that, Anzia saw the need that the stories and sufferings of women world wide be reported. WNN has received much recognition from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organiztion and helped to train other news media source in the quality of reporting.

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