To Sum it All Up (RGM JOUR 4250)

By Sarah Copeland

Now that we are at the end of the semester, I realize how much my Race, Gender, and the Media course has covered. What was so great about this class was that every class’s lesson was based on the first class.

The very first week of this semester, our class went over the basic media theories that would be addressed throughout the semester. This includes Stereotypes and Schemas, Agenda Setting, Symbolic Annihilation, Framing, Hegemony, and Semiotics. Every one of these theories was vital when analyzing topics throughout the semester. I even use these theories in my blogs to prove my points.

Here’s how each of these theories relates to a topic we have discussed:

  • The representation of women and other minorities in the media: Stereotyping, Agenda Setting, Symbolic Annihilation, Framing, and Hegemony.
    • Basically, any story about minorities is told in a stereotypical way that shows how the media wants the public to think about minorities. The media also symbolically annihilates some minorities by not representing them at all (Native Americans). The fact that media controls the information and represents it the way they see fit is Framing. And, since white males are in control of most media, Hegemony is shown.
  • Advertising Images and other depictions:Stereotyping, Symbolic Annihilation, Framing, and Hegemony.
    • Yet another way the media shows how it views the population. Advertising symbolically annihilates any minority or ethnic group they view as unimportant. Ads stereotype the role of men and women, which also shows framing and hegemony.
  • The role of the LGBTQ community in the media: Symbolic Annihilation and Hegemony.
    • Or the lack thereof of the LGBTQ community in the media. Here again, we see the dominance of the social group in control of the media.
  • The representation of women in sports and video games: Stereotyping, Symbolic Annihilation, and Hegemony.
    • Again, the role women seem to have in the media when it comes to sports shows stereotyping. Even though women have come far and are very equal to men in sports, they are still rarely shown on sports channels in comparison to men’s sports. This stereotypes women’s athletic abilities and well as symbolically annihilates them from this topic. There is also intense stereotypes in video games, especially those that depict women as damsels in distress or do not have women as strong main characters. Since men dominate sports and the video game depictions of women, it proves hegemony.
  • Hispanics and Latinos in the media: Stereotyping, Symbolic Annihilation, Agenda Setting, and Hegemony.
    • This was the most recent class lesson we analyzed. I never realized how incorrectly they have been represented in the media. They are just as, or perhaps more, stereotyped than women. They also have very low representation at all, showing symbolic annihilation and how the media doesn’t care for us to think of them through their agenda setting.

Here’s what I’ve noticed: Hegemony is involved in all of these topics. Why? Because there’s a point. The United States of America is made up of more minorities than Whites. However, though they are outnumbered, white males are still the dominant power that controls the media. This is why our media is flawed. Our media doesn’t show the truth of minorities or any subject the dominant group would rather ignore.

If anything, this shows that there needs to be change. I think that was the main point of this class. Not only did our professor teach us media literacy, but our professor taught us to see that change must happen. Our media so easily fails at showing true depictions of our world, and it needs to be fixed.

References:

Everbach, T. (2016). JOUR 4250 Race, gender and media: A methods approach. Lecture presented at JOUR 4250 in Gateway Center, Denton.

 

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Female Portrayal in Video Games (RGM JOUR 4250)

By Sarah Copeland

Why do girls in video games always have to look sexy?!?!

Okay, real quick, I just want to point out that I am a girl and I play video games. Not a lot, but definitely some good ones. My sister plays even more than I do and she is an extreme feminist. So I know she, like I do as well, ignores the slutty outfits that female video game characters are clothed in. We also ignore the lack of women in some of our favorite games.

Now I will say that some games are getting better. I play Team Fortress 2 a lot and I grew up playing Half-Life. If you don’t know those games, all you really need to know is that the female count is near zero if not actually zero. However, Half-Life 2’s co-lead character is female and she’s kickass! And a game similar to TF2 called “Overwatch” has several female characters. I can’t really say that these female characters get better outfits, but they aren’t as slutty as other games I know of.

Recently in my class, we watched a YouTube video about the “damsels in distress” represented in video games posted by FeministFrequency. The video basically points out all the stereotypical female representation in video games. It points out how the girls are weak and sexy and how the manly male characters have to save the day. The video also points out some interesting facts about older video games and even games that didn’t get released. It’s a very interesting watch and I recommend it highly.

The main argument that comes from presenting this information is: female representation needs to be improved. I feel as if I continue making the same argument throughout so many past blog posts, but I keep learning about and finding new subjects that have the same problem. It is shown in sports, in the media, in advertising, in movies, and in video games. There is always the same issue on female representation. How did we get to this point? Why do we let it continue? Again, I am without an answer, and again, the more I notice these issues, the more I wish it could be fixed soon.

 

References:

Sarkeesian, A. (Director), McIntosh, J. (Producer). (2013). Damsel in distress: part 1 – tropes vs women in video games [Video file]. Retrieved December 1, 2016, from  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6p5AZp7r_Q

The Difference Between Male and Female Athletes (RGM JOUR 4250)

By Sarah Copeland

I apologize for the continual blog posts about women representation. But there are just so many issues that need to be addressed! I always considered myself a feminist while I viewed my sister as an extreme feminist. I think that my Race, Gender, and the Media course is making me more and more like my sister after every class. I now have more heated discussions with my boyfriend concerning the topics we discuss in class. I know he plays the devil’s advocate sometimes when we discuss topics such as women’s roles in the media, but I now get more carried away and angry at the points he makes. Now I want to address something that isn’t deniable: Women and sports.

Here’s something that was pointed out in class the other day: most television sports news centers focus solely on men’s sports rather than women’s. Think about the last thing you saw covered on television about sports. It was probably football or men’s basketball or probably even hockey. Heck, even other countries’ men’s soccer is on television at sports bars rather than women’s sports. Do you realize how fantastic our women’s soccer team is or how great our women league plays basketball?

Another point made was that the women’s sports that are shown tend to be things like volleyball where the women’s uniforms consist of a sports bra and tiny, booty shorts. I know I previously wrote about the Rio Olympics but let’s consider the games again. Which gained more media coverage: Men’s swimming or women’s? Women’s gymnastics or men’s? Women’s sand volleyball or men’s? Those should be easy to answer: men’s swimming, women’s gymnastics, and women’s sand volleyball. Isn’t it interesting that the sports that show women in the most revealing uniforms are the most popular? Yet, when it comes to actual talent, men’s sports are depicted more in the media. People constantly point out sexism in sports such as this article from Some News.

It’s all in the wording. Why are male athletes depicted as great for who they are, yet female athletes are described along with something feminine that takes the glory away from them? Sarah Grieves from a Cambridge team studying these differences says, “We found things like men being described as fastest, strong, biggest. For women, it’s unmarried, married, references to their age. There is an inequality there.” This comes from a New York Times article titled “Sure, these women are winning Olympic medals, but are they single?” This points out the fundamental problem: we only care specifically about what male athletes accomplish based on their skills with no side comment. Whereas a female athlete might have won a medal, but she must have been coached by someone great, married to someone better or some other fact that basically overshadows her accomplishment.

It surprises me that I never really noticed how men’s sports were mainly covered on the news. I go to physical therapy twice a week where they consistently have a sports channel on the TV. It wasn’t until after this class that I noticed women’s sports was rarely ever covered by that news channel. Why does this happen? Don’t women athletes work just as hard as male athletes? Will athletic sexism ever end?

 

References:

Baker, M. (2016, August 16). The 5 most sexist moments in media coverage at the 2016 Olympics. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://www.someecards.com/news/sports/sexist-olympic-coverage-rio-2016/
Rogers, K. (2016, August 18). Sure, these women are winning Olympic medals, but are they single. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/19/sports/olympics/sexism-olympics-women.html?_r=0

The Outstanding Issue of Miss Representation (RGM JOUR 4250)

By Sarah Copeland

I’m usually the type of person who keeps my opinions to myself, or at least to my close friends. I don’t try and force my opinion on anyone or think that my opinion is always the correct opinion. That being said, the following blog post will have a lot to do with my personal opinion. I couldn’t avoid it. After a recent class in my Race, Gender, and the Media course, I became very heated about the subject of women in the media. We watched a documentary called “Miss Representation”. I highly suggest finding a way to watch this film because it is very well made and reveals a lot of information that I think few people take into consideration.

Anyway, throughout the film I got angrier and angrier. The main point, presented early on in the documentary, is that the media is a messenger and a strong messenger. And the public learns more information from the media than any other source (Newsom 2011). Therefore, the representation of women on television, through commercials, through music videos, and any other form they take visually, is important to analyze.

How often on television are women used as sex objects? What about damsels in distress? Female characters are rarely a strong main character who avoids drama. This documentary points this out very well while also proving how women are under-represented and are often portrayed disparagingly.

As women, we see the impossible in media. We see models and a plethora of incredibly beautiful women that we, as mortals, can never live up to. Not only does this give young women a false view of what they should be, it also gives men a belief on what they think women should be and therefore how to treat women. Obviously, this is an important matter because the media has too strong a hold on our beliefs and attitudes.

How do we fix this? How do we, as women, prove ourselves to be more than what we are depicted on screen? This is yet another reason I became angry. I didn’t have any good answers. So, as a conclusion to this blog, I request your opinions on how this could be rectified. Are we already progressing? Or do we need to make some serious changes? We, as women, need stronger role models and correct representation, and we need to fix this now.

 

References:

Newsom, J. S. (Director), Newsom, J. S. (Producer), & Congdon, J., Raskin, J., & Dietrich, C. (Screenwriters). (2011). Miss Representation [Video file]. United States of America. Retrieved December 1, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZYpAuUzDhU

Gender Equality and the Bechdel Test (RGM JOUR 4250)

By Sarah Copeland

There is a common trend throughout my Race, Gender, and the Media course and that is the representation of women in media. This topic definitely gives me a lot to write about. There are so many facets in which females are misrepresented or underrepresented and not many people realize this. For example the Bechdel Test.

I was recently out at dinner with a couple of my closest girl friends. One of which is a strong feminist. When the conversation seemed to die, I brought up the Bechdel Test that I had learned of in my class. That one friend knew of it and, like myself, had strong opinions of the test and anything that failed the test. However, my other friends needed an explanation:

The Bechdel Test states: for a given work of fiction to pass the test, the work must 1) have at least two women in it, who 2) talk to each other, about 3) something other than a man (Garber 2015). ( If you would like further history/background to this test, view this article.)

After my explanation, I proceeded to pull up the list of movies that pass and fail the Bechdel Test.

One friend, however, questioned the purpose of this test. The rest of us were shocked, but she honestly was questioning the point. Why is it important, she asked, why does it matter and is this not just another feminist complaint? So, I’ll answer that here and now and hope that these questions satisfy anyone with the same query.

To be straightforward, this test is a basic system that measures the gender equality in any fictional work may it be a film, a show, a book, or etc. (Garber 2015). Furthermore, it calls attention to the fact that an abundance of female characters in films is not substantial. They fall short in comparison to the male characters also in the same film and are often portrayed as “one-dimensional and male-dependent” (Waletzko 2015).

The only problem is, just because fiction works pass this test does not ensure that it shows true gender equality. The article, “Why the Bechdel Test Fails Feminism” does a great job of pointing out why this is true, specifically using Disney movies to prove it. It is a very well-written article and worth the full read.

All in all, this test is a great way to discuss the failures of most films. It is important, though, to realize that just because a film passes the test, does not mean that the female characters are vital in any way. So, though it shows a certain measure of the value of a film, the Bechdel Test is not an accurate assessment of gender equality. But it is a good start.

 

References:

Bechdel Test Movie List. (n.d.). Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://bechdeltest.com/
Garber, M. (2015, August 25). Call It the ‘Bechdel-Wallace Test’. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/08/call-it-the-bechdel-wallace-test/402259/
Waletzko, A. (2015, June 27). Why the Bechdel Test Fails Feminism. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anna-waletzko/why-the-bechdel-test-fails-feminism_b_7139510.html

We Ruined Disney (RGM JOUR 4250)

By Sarah Copeland

Before I begin I want to make it clear that I am a huge Disney fan. I love everything Disney and I hate to highlight its flaws, but I must agree with the rest of my classmates.

Just to give some brief background information, last class some of my peers presented their first project to the class. Our first project was to analyze some form of media and write a content analysis based on outstanding themes we observed such as sexism, racism, etc.

To be fair, we ruined plenty of other things during the project presentations along with Disney. I chose to reveal the overwhelming amount of sexism present in the 1940s by analyzing the movie “A League of Their Own.” Other students used movies like “Bridesmaids” or cartoons like “Steven Universe” to highlight negative and degrading portions of products that we previously enjoyed. This includes Disney.

If you didn’t already know, Disney can rather easily influence children, especially little girls that just want to be like a Disney princess. This is an important factor when observing Disney movies and determining what disturbing themes are common. The student who focused on Disney movies as the topic of her project opened the discussion on the movie “The Little Mermaid” during our previous class.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of negative themes in “The Little Mermaid” like during the scene where Ursula sings the “Poor Unfortunate Souls” song. One thing that the student did not point out during her presentation that I want to discuss is how Ursula says the phrase: “You have your looks, your pretty face, and don’t underestimate the power of body language.”

This song is packed full of negative instructions to girls. Throughout the song, Disney creators, through the villain voice of Ursula, basically state that girls don’t need their voices to get the guy. Based on this song, a girl’s body is the only truly important mechanism to make a boy interested in them. On top of that horrible implication, the song continues to say that men don’t like girls that talk too much and that girls should just keep their mouth shut anyway because they will be happier that way. Basically, according to Disney, a girl shouldn’t care about how smart or conversational she is but should be concerned about the way she looks because that’s how she will win her man. Not to mention that, to Disney, a happily ever after with Prince Charming is the only thing desirable for a girl.

There are several other negative things I could point out about Disney. These include things like the impossible standards of body image it sets forth when designing princesses. Every princess is a Barbie doll with impossibly tiny waists and flawless hair. I think the most important negative theme I can point out, though, is how Disney creates weak female characters whose only care in the world is her getting her man. Of course, there are exceptions, like Mulan, but most of the old princess movies follow the same exhausted story line.

I still love Disney, and I still think that the old princess movies are great stories. I honestly hope my future children will grow up watching these same movies. However, knowing that Disney has such a high influence, I think it is important for parents to ensure their children aren’t taking everything the Disney movies present to heart.Sorry to say, but Disney isn’t perfect.

School’s Sexist Dress Codes (RGM JOUR 4250)

By Sarah Copeland

Unfair dress codes are singling girls out as the reason that boys in school do not pay attention. School districts are implying that it is the girls’ fault that boys can’t pay attention, yet we don’t shame the boys for ogling girls’ bodies. The reasons behind strict dress codes in schools are blatantly sexist and need to be addressed (no pun intended).

I have always felt strongly about this topic ever since I was in high school. I thought it was insane how many rules there were to restrict girls’ clothing when the boys had little to no stress over the matter. I did not know how huge this issue was until I began research on the topic to help me write this blog. Several articles share my distaste for how sexist schools have become concerning the matter of dress codes. Even some powerful movements like “I am more than a distraction” have erupted on the east coast (Zhou 2015).

i-am-more-than-a-distraction

I have read some articles that use the argument that dress codes are to help prepare students for the “next level” past high school (Halkidis 2014). That excuse is beyond ridiculous. The “next level” for students (at least optimistically speaking) is college. College has no dress code and is refreshingly freeing for students when it comes to personal day-to-day decisions. The only need to dress nicely is for special events or important first impressions such as interviews.

First impressions are important, yes, but it is important to realize when those impressions will be made. It is improbable to expect that every day, for 180 days, a student will wear “interview appropriate” clothing in order to “prepare” them for their future. That puts an extreme amount of stress on a teenager. Instead of micro-analyzing every outfit a student (and let’s be honest, it really is only the girl students) are wearing and stating it’s to “help them understand” what would be appropriate for a job interview, why not just hold a school lecture to prepare all students (Halkidis 2014)?

Overall, it’s truly the girls losing out on their education through the distractions that dress codes bring forward. When they are called out and sent out of class for their outfit, it disrupts their learning. I fail to see how this is NOT a sexist act. The school districts with oppressive, unfair dress codes are basically saying, “We don’t want to distract the boys so please leave and change your clothes.” I feel like that is rather obvious sexism.

Another issue comes from learning where would girls even find appropriate clothes! I used to work in retail at a tween girls’ store. The hardest things for parents to find was always clothing that would be school appropriate. I apologize, but shorts that are long enough to be considered “dress code appropriate” are ugly. They are unflattering and, usually, don’t even exist. The majority of clothing stores that girls can shop at don’t offer longer length shorts, skirts or dresses.

On top of all that, it is not the school’s job to tell students what they can wear. It is the school’s job to teach and educate students. Of course, there is always a limit. Neither girl nor boy students should show up to school in bathing suits. However, it is the parent’s responsibility to enforce proper dress codes upon their children.

Enough of this “boys will be boys” crap that allows school districts get away with showing sexism to girls. It’s unfair, it’s demeaning and it’s infuriating.

References:

Bates, L. (2015, May 22). How School Dress Codes Shame Girls and Perpetuate Rape Culture. Retrieved October 13, 2016, from http://time.com/3892965/everydaysexism-school-dress-codes-rape-culture/
Halkidis, A. (2014, December 1). Students Say Dress Codes More for Girls Than Boys. Retrieved October 13, 2016, from http://womensenews.org/2014/12/students-say-dress-codes-more-for-girls-than-boys/
Menza, K. (2015, January 19). Debate: Are School Dress Codes Sexist? Retrieved October 13, 2016, from http://choices.scholastic.com/story/debate-are-school-dress-codes-sexist
Zhou, L. (2015, October 20). The Sexism of School Dress Codes. Retrieved October 13, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/10/school-dress-codes-are-problematic/410962/