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.

 

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

Finding My Passion and Sticking to It

By: Sarah Copeland

 

One thing my mother always taught me while I was growing up was to think before you speak and, if you are going to speak, make sure it comes out right. Now, as a college student trying to graduate with a major in public relations, I realize how important that lesson really was.

Honestly, I would never have pictured myself where I am now. Math was always my strong suit. Unlike English classes, where there was an essay for every exam asking to analyze a certain poem or ancient novel by a famous author, math never had to be interpreted. It was what it was and I liked that. Find the value of X. Easy. I flew through calculus two in high school with a solid A and thought I was better at math than any other subject. There was only one problem: there was absolutely no career of interest for me that had to do with math. No way was I going to be an accountant or a mathematician. I liked math but not that much. So, I ignored deciding on a major, figuring I would find out when I got to college.

It wasn’t until the Dean of Honors College talked to me at an introductory meeting that things really changed. She was impressed with my SAT scores in the math section and promptly told me how I would make a good engineer. I burst into tears. This was not the career path I wanted at all. Actually, it would take another year for me to find out what I wanted.

I learned about public relations some time before my sophomore year. Because of my mother, I had always known when people had said the wrong thing. I also knew when they made mistakes and even noticed how well of a job they did when they apologized. For instance, we may not all remember what happened with Johnson& Johnson Tylenol but I’m sure all of us know about what happened with Blue Bell. What I didn’t know was that there was a career that handled those situations. Of course, public relations is such a broad subject that I really didn’t know much about it when I decided to claim PR as my major. But I took the plunge anyways.

All I can say is that it is a good thing that I am a decent student. The Mayborn School of Journalism at UNT doesn’t make it easy. If you don’t love what you are studying you won’t make it through. I powered through the media writing courses, hating every second I had to write a news story. But they were required before I could reach PR courses. I can’t say it got any easier once I finally took the classes I was working so hard to reach. One thing I learned, though, is that public relations is different for everyone. PR may be all about social media for one person and all about nonprofits for another. For me, my public relations goal is about maintaining relationships through how you verbally communicate (aka: External Affairs maybe even leaning towards HR work). This again comes from what my mother taught me and partially from the part of my personality that wants everyone to be happy.

I now find myself, as a junior, taking a capstone course in PR. According to the professor, this is a challenging choice. My professor’s knowledge of the course, and of public relations in general, makes me anxious. I’m currently trying not to drown from “drinking from the fire hose”, a phrase used by my professor which relates to another class but is still relevant for her communications course. All I can say is that, after two years of study, I still love public relations and eagerly await going out into the real world.

drinking20from20the20firehosePhoto By: InvetorSpot

We’ll see how it goes.

Bye for now,

Sarah