Why does pop culture culture reduce women and men to such limiting stereotypes? Why are reality TV’s stock characters (The Desperate Bachelorette, The Angry Black Woman, The Douchebag Dude) so regressive? Find out in the town that creates them at the L.A. book launch for Reality Bites Back! Expect critical media commentary, revealing insights about gender in pop culture — and lots of laughs.
The authors will read from and sign their books. And after: schmoozing. What could be better? Oh, it is free.
With “Not Ever, Rape Crisis Scotland has launched Scotlands first ever TV campaign aimed at tackling women-blaming attitudes to rape. The advert was launched on Monday 28 June, and was broadcast for the first time that night during coverage of Brazil’s World Cup match. It will continue to be shown over the next 9 weeks on STV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.
“Not Ever” addresses women-blaming attitudes towards rape such as claims that dressing provocatively, being drunk or flirting with men are contributory factors. Its hard-hitting approach is intended to make people stop in their tracks, and to shake out and challenge ingrained prejudices many people have towards women who have been raped.
Ok. Yes. I’ll admit it. Tina Fey cracked me up with the whole “ran out of room on the labia” thing! But, my reaction is pretty well versed in this quote/comment from Dustin Time beneath the Huffington Post article (one of the only comments with a pro-woman stance that didn’t think bashing McGee was the appropriate avenue to traverse) :
Yeah, but on the other hand… it’s sort of perverse for women sympathetic to Bullock to direct their venom at this relatively powerless, easy-target female instead of James himself–the one who made the vows to Bullock, the one who clearly didn’t need a temptress to stray sordidly…
So much for sisterhood.
I agree, DustinTime. Fey also did a sketch that that poked fun at one of Tiger Woods’ mistresses, as well. I think that all of the laughs tie right back into Melanie’s post about female relationships. I doubt that Bullock and McGee will ever be friends, or even friendly (despite today’s apology), but to blindly laugh at Tina’s jokes and not recognize that we’re perpetuating the cycle of false, harmful, damaging female relationships and stereotypes is basically accepting that their existence is inevitable.
Anita Sarkeesian rocked WAM! LA Thursday night. We can’t wait for her to return to LA. Check out her incredible playlist. Originally posted at Feminist Frequency, March 26, 2010. Cross-posted with permission.
I had such a fantastic time presenting at Women, Action and Media (WAM) in LA on March 25th, 2010. I curated a show of online videos including remixes, vlogs, vids and short documentaries made by women. Staying true with WAM’s mission, these videos represent women taking action through media to talk about issues important to their lives and talking back to the media that so often misrepresents, stereotypes and victimizes us.
This clip was originally posted at BitchMedia last year. In an interview where Lady Gaga is asked about the sexually explicit lyrics in her songs and her sexually provocative persona, she calls the interviewer out on the ancient sexual double-standard that has existed between men and women for literally thousands of years. It’s so ingrained in our cultural consciousness that Jessica Valenti made it the title of a recent book, He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 Other Double-Standards.
If she’s singing about f*****, she’s a slut and a bad role model. If he’s singing about f*****, sticking his d*** in her ear or some other female orifice, slapping her on the a** or what have you, he’s a rock star, a rapper, a happenin’ celebrity…or just a regular guy. It’s a tired, restricting and one-dimensional double-standard that does not serve our society in any way. Good for Gaga for calling him out on it.
Ah, but then it continues. Hmmm. If she’s making a critical statement like that, could she… be a (gulp) feminist?
Nope. Gaga loses points when she perpetuates the stereotype of the man-hating, gender separatist feminist who hates men ( and wants to cut their balls off). There are tons of stereotypes that keep people otherwise supportive of feminist values and goals away from the movement. Man-hating happens to be the number one reason.
Sadly, her former statement was trumped by the latter and proves that most people continue to know more about the stereotypes than they do about the history of the movement, the women and men that organized and sacrficed for rights most people take for granted and it’s core principles. Equality. Freedom.
So often we women are quick to judge other women and I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone given the suspicion and competition that is encouraged between girls and women in the media and the culture at large.
Skinny bitch. Slut. Ho.
Those are just some of the names we hurl at other women that we don’t think we have anything in common with. We judge other women on their hair, clothing, color, size and relationship status. We assume that we won’t like one another and don’t bother to take a chance. Now, I am not saying we’ll have commonalities and connections with every women we may come across but we certainly have the potential for connection and solidarity with a more diverse group of women than we imagine.
I wrote about this in September 2008 after I returned from one of the many women-centered retreats I have helped organize and attended with my teacher, Nita Rubio, and the women I have circled with over the years. But, since that last retreat, I entered my second trimester, had a beautiful baby boy and lost my sense of self and sisterhood in the process.
It’s easy to do when you’re recovering from a c-section and adjusting to the needs of new baby. Somewhere in the process my individual identity got mixed up with the dirty diapers and pumping.
This past weekend was my first weekend away from my boy since he was born last February. It was my first weekend immersed with a group of women that gathered with intention in a sacred female space in over a year.
I forgot how much I needed this despite my clear sense of longing and isolation as I nurtured my newborn babe.
Even so, I found myself with the same tendency to judge. We were 13 women among the Joshua Trees of the desert, away from partners, children, and careers. I have known many of the women for years in circle, many I had never met. Despite teaching Women’s Studies and lecturing on the division that is encouraged among women and despite the enriching experiences I have had with my community of women, I still find myself quick to stereotype and judge.
As always, I was confronted with my judgements and the walls I erected hastily were smashed and I was able to meet a plethora of amazing women of various walks of life. I am grateful for the ability to move past these superficial boundaries more quickly than I was able to as a young woman but the fact that these judgements still arise is noteworthy and troubling.
By the end of our 4 days communing together in the desert over delicious food, in the hot tub, in the sacred dance, late night wine, laughter and deep conversation I felt deep gratitude for the lessons I was offered and the reminder that we women have a lot to offer one another if we can move beyond our culturally embedded assumptions and suspicions.
Sisterhood is still powerful.
To read Nita Rubio’s post on this past weekend, click here.
Picture taken by Nita Rubio. Joshua Tree Highlands, 2010.
Research showed that in 101 top-grossing G-rated movies released between 1990 and 2005, three out of four characters were male. Girls accounted for only 17 percent of the film’s narrators and 17 percent of the characters in crowd scenes. Only seven of the 101 movies were nearly gender-balanced, with a ratio of less than 1.5 males per 1 female character. “Although many people would argue that things seem to be getting better, our data shows that this is not the case,” says the principal investigator, Stacy L. Smith, an associate professor at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication, where the research was carried out.
What was revealed was not only the disparity of images between male and female characters but the typical gender socialization that continues throughout adulthood. As media analyst George Gerbner pointed out many years ago, it is not the introduction of one image or message that causes a change in one’s attitude of one’s self or the worl they inhabit that is worth noting. It is the repetitive and continuous stream of images that consistently reinforce the same values and norms from our earliest years throughout the life course. This concept is know as cultivation. Cultivation refers to the stability of these prolific messages versus the change-oriented model.
When one considers the process of cultivation in a media saturated culture, it is the seemingly benign, obvious messages that we don’t consciously take note of that constructs our sense of reality. In turn, this framework informs and shapes our expectations of who we and others should be and we consider these attitudes and behaviors as normative and natural.
Considering the work of Stacy Smith, Jackson Katz, Byron Hurt, Sut Jhally, Jean Kilbourne and many others that have actively studied gender and the media, it is not surprising that media directed at children hardly differs from media directed at adult men and women. Cartoons aimed at girls and boys carry the same messages/plots/themes/characters that “chick flicks” and “dick flicks” reinforce in adulthood.
Girls/women are encouraged to focus on beauty and relationships with men, After all, you must be beautiful to get a guy. Boys/men are encouraged to be tough, adventurous and independent. Considering the prolific and ubiquitous nature of the contemporary media, it is no surprise that young girls strive to be beautiful through more and more extreme measures. They are repeatedly told early on that girls/women must be beautiful in order to be validated in order to be considered worthy of a relationship. Boys/men are told repeatedly that real boys/men are tough and independent or they are considered weak and effeminate.
Essentialism, the notion that gendered behavior is inherent and “natural,” is not surprising considering a climate that cultivates attitudes, behaviors and expectations of girls/women and boys/men within a structured environment that provides a steady stream of images that constantly reinforce themselves. The images become unremarkable or un-noteworthy.
In this mediated cultural climate, negative sanctions in the form of derogatory names and physical punishment is also unsurprising. If gendered characteristics and their expected behaviors are sen as inevitable and natural, punishment for one’s transgression is seen as inevitable. And, that’s where the danger resides.