July 27, 2010

Interview with The Daily Femme

Filed under: Featured Feminist — Tags: , , , — Melanie @ 10:54 am

Originally posted at The Daily Femme on July 26, 2010.

Interviewed by Cherie

The minute I saw Melanie Klein’s photographs of students standing against a massive collage of models found in magazines, I wanted to know more about her work. As a Women Studies and Sociology lecturer in a Southern California College, Melanie Klein has been studying how the objectification of women in the media has a negative psychological, social, physical, and mental impact on the average woman. Covering the likes of Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears in her courses but also on her blog, Feminist Fatale, Melanie deconstructs media representations of women from a feminist perspective. In this interview she focuses on the dominant beauty paradigm in our celebrity-driven culture and explains what she means by the term “empower-tainment.”  She also tells us how reducing her own media consumption changed the way she looked at other women and gave her self-esteem a much-needed boost.

Can you share how you decided to create the project “What does a real woman look like?” with your students? What were their reactions to your idea?

I teach Women Studies and Sociology at Santa Monica College and this project came from a course I taught called “Women in Pop Culture” where we addressed representations of women in the media and discussed how a certain image of beauty affects women across class, weight, size etc.  We also discussed what George Gerbner of the Annenberg School of Communications called “cultivation” to explain how a media saturated environment impacts our perceptions, morals and values. Cultivation refers to the endless stream of repetitive images manufactured by the media. Millions of images that we view over our lifetime carry the exact same body idea and so we decided to cut out hundreds of them, paste them up on a wall and then take photos of the women against the collage to underscore the juxtaposition. The students were really moved by it and standing against this collage elicited a visceral and emotional response that illustrated how daunting and depressing these images can be.

Do you encourage men to join your class discussions and be featured as writers on your website?

It is interesting because while I encourage men joining my women studies courses and am happy to have men offering guest posts on my site, Feminist Fatale, I very much appreciate female only space. There have to be some cultural spaces that we distinctly set aside for women and so I am torn about the inclusion of males on blogs. I love some of the amazing men like David Dismore who is a regular contributor to Ms, Byron Hurt and Michael Kimmel who make incredible additions to the movement. However women’s voices are underrepresented in mass media and blogs are a way to self publish and get the word out.  I don’t know if Feminist Fatale would feature a male blogger and I don’t know how I would react if I saw a permanent male blogger on some of the feminist sites that I read.

For the complete interview, click here.

1 Comment »

  1. That’s my friend Tani!!! She’s amazing in this video! Everyone is!

    Comment by Vida Starr — March 27, 2011 @ 9:34 am

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